Monday, July 21, 2014

Left-side PADDLE!...by Ben Hazlett

Rafting is one of my favorite things to do.  Maybe its the thrill of it or perhaps it is the beauty of canyons you can only access by river.  Whatever the reason, some of my best memories during college were the 2 summers I spent in Moab, Utah working for my uncle's company World Wide River Expeditions.  They actually paid us to go rafting all summer!  Not only was it fun, but I really feel like I learned a lot of great things.  I got to know my uncle Steve, my aunt Nikki and my cousins and I was able to spend a lot of time with my Grandpa & Grandma.  Not to mention that it was the "magic of Moab" that brought Mary and me together.
 Back to the "great things" I mentioned learning... there were lots of skills I acquired and life lessons from parallels such as always being prepare, staying in the current to make the fastest progress, learning to read the water for danger, and always remember that if you are the guide and you fall out... get back in before any of your passengers notice or you will not get a tip!  Believe it or not, rafting has even taught me to be a better parent. 

For instance, as a guide you knew that there were dangers to be found in even the small rapids and you also knew that some rapids needed to be taken head on, while others were only safe if by going around the huge life sucking hole. Yet, some times, you could only do so much if your passengers didn't do their job. There were many times when I would scream "left-side PADDLE" only to have the right-side paddle harder and the left-side give up entirely.  This would of course send us spinning into the rapids.  Often, at that point most of the passengers would dive into the bottom of the raft while those left on the sides would involuntarily go swimming.  
I often look at my kids and think "why can't you just listen to me!"  They really are good kids, but all to often I forget that sometimes you have to fall out of the raft to learn how to stay in and sometimes you have to get stuck on the rocks so you realize why to avoid them in the future.  And yet, so many times I feel like I'm right back on the river screaming PADDLE! while watching as the boat begins to spin out of control. Almost always, though, little hands reach up and say "daddy, I love you" and suddenly I jump back in the guide position and keep on rowing. 

Often I wonder to, if God thinks that about us.  How many times do we know what is right and choose not to do it only to be surprised by the perverbial wall of water the smacks us in the face.  I can just see God yelling at us "Left-side, PADDLE!"  I hope I can learn to listen more and trust in the most qualified Guide ever so that I can not only navigate the rivers of life, but enjoy the trip too!