After a week of helping chaperone a dozen splendid youth from our church at UniDiversity, I was often posed the question “how was it?” As I only half facetiously told my fellow Life Class members the Sunday morning after our return, “it’s good to be in a room full of adults.”

However, as the Sunday School lesson progressed, my mind wandered back to the events of the previous week, particularly our river tubing expedition. The Little River was broad, quiet and moved us along slowly and gently at first. Initially, it was peaceful and serene, so much so that I even found it a bit boring.

However, soon I espied the first “rapids,” a tame bit of turbulence caused by shallower waters and the rock bed. Folk had to get out of their inner tubes and walk over them, and I naturally followed suit. Once past, we shot somewhat more briskly down river until the deeper waters and slower pace returned.

Thus it continued for the ensuing two hours downriver; slow stretches followed by shallow, rocky passages, plus one more element: the occasional large, singular submerged rock on which we could run aground. If we couldn’t push off with our arms or legs, we would have to get out of our tubes, step away, free ourselves, then resume our float.

Psalm 139 was one of the lectionary texts the next Sunday. When in class we got to verse five which speaks of God “hemming” us in, the Little River excursion popped back in my mind. Without the rocks that pose a challenge, we would languidly float down the “lazy river” tempted to ease into a state of boredom. We would never experience the hastening, challenging pace. And if we never got out of the comfort of our inner tubes, we surely would be “stuck.”

Monday morning found me back at my customary water aerobics class at ACAC. Same question, same answer: “It’s good to be in a pool full of adults.” And again, my mind wandered back to the Little River, this time with a new twist.

There I was in a tame, flat bottomed pool in Short Pump. Guiding my classmate and me was an experienced leader. For her standing on the pool deck, the exercise movements were relatively easy. For us there was the resistance of the water. Plus, she was a conditioned athlete.

The analogy struck me. The safety of the pool (read “church”) enabled the instructor (read “pastor”, etc.) to strengthen us when we face more challenging situations.

In a matter of weeks, those dozen teens will be headed back to school. No doubt they, like us, will face some rapids. My prayer is that River (yes “River”) Road Church, Baptist will provide them the coaches, classes, and activities they need to navigate their passages.