Many of the kids had never been on any kind of outdoor adventure. They may have tramped through the wooded lot behind Grandma and Grandpa’s house but for many of them it was the first time they had been in a setting like this.
Most of my suburban raised youth group kids had never been on white water when we arrived in southern WV to ride the New River. With a mix of fear and excitement we loaded up the bus to head down to the launch point and setout on a fun filled day of discovery and exertion.
I have to admit that there are many things about being a youth pastor that I don’t miss, but being on the water with those kids is one of all-time favorite memories. There is something about being in God’s good creation that moves us. But there is something extra special when we embark on an adventure that demands reliance and inspires wonder.
I will never forget the look in Nathan’s eyes as we approached the New River to begin our day of rafting. He could hear the river before he could see it. Puzzlement gave way to nervous excitement as it slowly dawned on him that the powerful roar filling his ears was the first of many rapids we would ride that day.
That day the kids learned many things about their God and they encountered his creation. In our boat we talked about God’s care and concern for us as a mother deer and her fawn came to the edge of the river to drink as we floated through one of the pools between rapids. We discussed God’s majesty as we gazed up at the cliffs that stretched roughly 500ft. above the power. We laughed and played at “jump rock”. And we wondered after the power and might of our God whose strength exponentially exceeded that of the mighty rapids we were negotiating.
A great deal of ministry happened on the river that day and a great deal of worship. On that river we have been in the sanctuary of the Most High. We had enjoyed the presence of God as we encountered the power of white water.