Our family enjoyed a wonderful time away in Colorado. We all agreed that we wanted to take a white water rafting trip. We did it before and survived. On the previous trip we were fortunate to be paired with a young, adventurous couple who eagerly volunteered for the front positions in the raft. If you aren’t familiar with this kind of rafting excursion, the guide is always careful to ask for volunteers who are halfway coordinated and don’t mind getting wet to sit at the front of the raft. It sounded like a lot of responsibility and not something that I am geared for. This time our group only included one other person, and she did not have ambitions of riding up front. Our children didn't want the responsibility either, so my husband, Brian, and I took the lead positions. Although a little shaky starting out, we finally got the rhythm down and had a wonderful trip.
Thankfully the river wasn't as rough as I expected based on our previous experience. Whether it was the time of year, the fact that the river was in a different state, or just God's favor I'm not sure, but we had a beautiful experience with only minor injuries. Since I had never been in the important lead position I wasn’t sure what would be required of me to keep the raft on course. I was ready to do all I could to contribute to a successful ride, but all we did was follow our guide's instructions. When he said forward 2, we paddled in unison for two strokes. This I had done before while sitting in the back—it was not different, only wetter. Near the end of our trip I began to ponder the significance of our paddling. I wondered if our paddling really made a difference. I asked our guide if he could have paddled us down this river without our help. Our self-sufficient, adventurous, confident guide quickly responded, Absolutely not. He said that we would have tipped miles back. I felt validated as a participating passenger on this trip.
It's really the same with God. By His own design He created a world that depends on our participation. It's not that God is limited by our choices; it is that He chose to create a world where bringing salvation to every nation depends on the participation of the humans He came to save. We are not asked to do the saving, but we are His witnesses. God is salvation and guides us, but He expects us to witness to who He is. Our guide was an expert at the river after taking trips two times a day every summer for 10 years; he knew where every rock, downed tree or other obstacle lay and could steer us away from collisions with nature. Still, he relied on us to paddle.
Isaiah 43:12-13 says, I have revealed and saved and proclaimed--I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses, declares the Lord, that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it? This verse reveals the true sovereignty of God and His desire for us to be His witnesses.
I may have felt insignificant on the rafting excursion, but I was wrong about that. We could not have made it safely down that 10-mile stretch of rocky river had I not fully participated by listening to my guide. God has given me great significance in the process of saving the people of this world. He depends on my witness to spread the word of salvation to others.