It’s hard for me to believe that the first month of the New Year has come and gone. It seems like Christmas was a long time ago, but January has really flown by and that doesn’t make any sense to me. I’ve spent the month trying to establish some kind of daily pattern that gets me up refreshed, provides time for exercising, provides time to study and write, provides time to practice the guitar surrounded by consistently eating less (quantity) and more healthy foods. I will soon find out how I’ve done; I have an appointment Friday, Feb 1 to have blood drawn at the lab and I see the doctor a week later for the results. I think I’ve done pretty well this month, but all of the holiday festivities will be included in this timeframe and will also influence the overall results.

But isn’t that true of life in general? We work to improve things that are creating problems or unhappiness in our lives and it often seems we take two steps forward and one backwards. Progress is slow and stressful events can derail our attempts to change; we just mentally throw up our hands and say, “I QUIT!” There are some things we should quit (bad habits), some things we like to quit (“quitting time”), but we must never consider quitting life or attempting to make it better for ourselves and others.

Years ago we went with a couple of friends to raft down the Chattooga River on the Georgia/South Carolina border. We figured it to be a fun-filled day floating in the cool river water. We had a couple of guides in the party and five or six rafts but we didn’t have a guide in our raft and there were only four of us. We learned some hard lessons that day and the Lord had to be watching over us because we came so close to disaster more than once. I learned you are flowing with the river current and if you are not paddling faster than the current is carrying you, you cannot steer the raft; you will go where the current takes you and many times you really don’t want to go where the current takes you. It took us under a rock named “Decapitation Rock” because if you went under the rock you had to dive to the bottom of the raft to keep from bashing your head. So we all dove to the floor and cleared the rock. We also capsized our raft on a rapid called “Bull Sluice” and when I surfaced I was under the upside- down raft. It was most important to paddle and paddle hard when the water was most turbulent. It was an exhausting six hour trip that was nothing like we had imagined; I promised myself that it would be the last time I rafted a river.

So it is with our lives. Even when we feel we are paddling upstream and making little progress, especially during those hard and difficult times, that’s when it is most important to keep paddling.
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12

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