The raft is a story or parable that I heard on a podcast to convey how our life changes, and we need to understand what we may need and what tools to navigate the next season.
I will quickly paraphrase the story here.
A person was walking and came upon a river they had to cross to get to the other side. Without any provisions, the person looked around and saw things in nature to build a raft. They worked hard to build a raft and, with hands, feet, and raft, safely landed on the other side. So grateful for the provision, they carried the raft until they reached a forest to trek through. The raft would hit the trees, and the more dense the forest became, they had to make a decision. The raft was left behind, and they traveled freely through the forest.
I loved the parable and the discussion. A few days later, I read about the importance of different perspectives in a relationship. Specifically, the person shared how frustrated she would become when her spouse saw things differently. Instead of accepting and being curious, she was frustrated and angry. Do we celebrate differences or feel isolated because of them?
I shared the story one morning with Parish. We were snuggled up in the beginning hours of the morning. I asked his perspective and discovered we had a lot in common, and he shared a great perspective that I did not see. “How can we leave the raft for someone else and trust that God will provide for our needs when we face the next obstacle?”
We’ve worked on connecting and playing this holiday break. I laughed at all the obstacles in the way and the “rafts” we built together. A destination cancellation due to frozen pipes, researching a new place to go, being overcharged, and having to file a report with Airbnb and practice patience and conflict resolution (we were reimbursed), allergic reactions, and the usual stressors.
My Bible study is anchored to the Exodus story, where God makes a way through the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross safely. They are afraid. God provides the way. The waymaker is there at just the right time. I smile at the connection between the parable and God’s Word. Whenever I read the stories of God’s Word, I put a group of people in a collective. We forget that while they were standing at the Red Sea with Pharoah’s army behind them, there were pregnant women, children running around needing food and fussing, probably some squabbling over who took the last fig. They were humans doing human things while trying to figure life out.
I want to close this post with a thought about celebration and speaking life. A friend shared that we want to go where we feel celebrated. It was about a sense of belonging, not a physical celebration. Knowing when you walk into the room, you are loved. Yesterday, Parish and I were in the community celebrating New Year’s Day with those out. As we walked down Cary Street, we overheard two teenagers chatting about wanting coffee. We shared with them a place about a block away and chit-chatted–wishing each other a Happy New Year! They were so young and full of life. This one teenager looked me in the eye and paused. “You are a beautiful couple.” He was not talking about the physical, but the love and joy that perhaps he felt. I’ll never forget how this young man spoke life into us and celebrated with us in a moment. Simple, quick, and timely.
Let our words celebrate and love this year. Find moments where perhaps someone is building their raft or looking for a new way to navigate the forest ahead of them.
Also, celebrate the work of building rafts and letting things go. It truly is our personal work that counts. Trying to do this for others (controlling them) and feeling shame or guilt in the process keeps us from celebrating. No matter where you are right now, you are right where you are supposed to be, and God is right there with you building rafts and showing you what to let go of.
“God is love, and love is at rock bottom, love is underneath everything when everything falls away, and God is with us, and Love marries us.” (p. 113 of The Waymaker)
You are beautiful.