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A Big Raft, Some White Water, and One Freaked Out Little Kid

A Big Raft, Some White Water, and One Freaked Out Little Kid

Chapter one excerpt from John Stanley’s Surrender, a CLC Publication

ISBN 9781619582842 - Coming Soon!

We pulled into the dusty, rocky parking lot of a local rafting company headquartered in a rustic log cabin deep in the woods, about five miles from the Ocoee River. We piled out of our maroon minivan and saw the river guides who, despite living on a river for a whole summer, were surprisingly clean cut. The college- and adult-aged men had a clean shave, washed clothing that wasn’t faded or torn and hair that had recently been cut—a seemingly good, grounded, and acceptable group.

Except for one. In my child mind, he looked like a serial killer. He had a good bit of scruff on his face and long, greasy, curly brown hair that hung just below his shoulders. I was certain it hadn’t been washed since his childhood. He was a bigger man, standing tall at about 6’3” with tree-trunk legs and muscular, beefed-up arms. To me, he looked scary as all get out. This guy was someone you’re taught to run away from when you’re twelve years old, not someone you’d entrust your life to.
Well, wouldn’t you know it? We ended up with that guy as our guide.
Now at twelve, my prayer life was clearly growing. Prayers that would be considered ‘begging’ were few and far between. Yet the moment I found out he was our guide and our only chance of survival, I pleaded to God in every way to be released from the nightmare that had just begun. But sometimes, no matter how hard we beg, there’s a purpose for why we are where we are. In hindsight, I think God probably smiled, maybe even laughed a little and said, “You’ll be fine.” Did I feel that way? Nope.  
Little did I know it would turn out fine, but not until we finished the scariest ride of my life. Everything in between the start and finish line of this little journey is still unnerving when I think back through it all. But in the midst of my personal turmoil, the lesson had already begun.
So, there we were, standing up to our knees in the frigid water. I was just trying to catch my breath and calm myself down as horrid thoughts raced through my mind. What was going to happen to us? As the self-absorbed tween, I also wondered, What is going to happen to me? How long will it take for me to fly out of the raft and drown? I watched the white-water caps slam against the rocks as the river curved a long path to what seemed like certain doom. I was done for. It didn’t look like fun. In fact, it seemed evil. Yet there my parents stood with huge smiles across their faces. My dad was ‘livin’ it up!’ as he would say on virtually any adventurous journey. As I stood with my eyes locked on the terror before me, I made sure my life jacket was secure, my helmet was fastened and the paddle grips were in the right place. Then I took a deep breath and climbed aboard the raft.
Now because I didn’t weigh much, I was put in the back. Heavier people were placed in the front to help keep the raft from flipping front to back when we hit harder rapids, like those ranked class V. I attempted to secure my feet in the grips underneath the seating in front of me, though I didn’t feel it would do much good. In my mind, placing such a little guy in the back of the raft didn’t seem to be a great idea. With one unsteady bounce, I could shoot up and out like a cannonball on some kind of raging rant of destruction.
Oh, and the worst part? The ‘killer guide man’ who was scarier than anyone I’d ever seen sat right behind me. His booming voice could have caused anyone to freeze so, naturally, when we started moving down the river and he screamed, “DIG!”, I froze. It evidently caught his attention that I was doing nothing, so he calmly leaned into my ear and politely said in that scruffy tone, “When I tell you to dig, boy, you dig. Got it?” Now, I don’t know about you, but when someone who looks like he could snap you into kindling leans into your little ear and commands you do what he says, you either pee your pants or you dig. I chose the latter.
As I attempted the first of many failed ‘digs’ in my panicked state, my paddle was barely reaching the water. So my dig, as it was supposed to be, was nothing more than a dip. Still, terrorised and humiliated as I was, I screamed at everyone else at the top of my lungs, “DIG GUYS!” Later, as we made it farther down the river, I’m sure someone in our family wanted to put me out of my misery.
As we continued the terror ride, our guide gave strong directives through every twist and turn. If they weren’t followed to the detail or with the necessary tenacity, he made it crystal clear that we would certainly be in some big trouble. All were doing their part, pulling their weight, except me. I was petrified. 
By the gracious hand of God, we made it down the river. Yes, we survived and finally arrived at our destination. I do believe it was one of the happiest moments of my life. As we gathered on the bus and began to head back, my parents asked me and my brother, “So what did you guys learn about life from that river ride?” I wanted to answer cleverly, “How to die.” Before the words could escape my mouth, my parents laid out their reasoning, plain and simple. Their words were etched in my mind and are still with me to this day: “It’s all about surrender.”
CLC Publications

CLC Publications is the English language publishing house for CLC International. CLC has published books for over 50 years. With the focus being to publish books by trusted authors with a clear and timeless message.

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Surrender (Paperback)
John Stanley
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