New Leaves

Ocala National Forest, FL

Proverbs 16:18

Mar 06, 2013 by Arthur

Hmmmm….I wonder what is meant by that reference? I suppose it has something to do with a lesson learned, or something like that.

Well, you’re right! It’s about a lesson learned.

We spent a couple of days in the National Forest Park Campground at Juniper Springs, Florida. It is a beautiful setting and it had special significance for Bonnie as she and her family visited there about 50+ years ago. It was fun to take a look at her father’s old pictures and try to determine the location from which he used his real film camera to take a few shots of the area. What a decision he must have faced to figure out what to shoot and what not to shoot. Today with our digital cameras we have more than enough storage space to take hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures. We always say we’re going to “throw away the bad ones and only keep the good ones,” but often we find that the pictures we take simply exist on our storage drives without being viewed more than a few times.

Nevertheless, it was fun to recreate the old pictures’ locations and take new views of old memories. But we wanted to do more. We wanted to make some new memories for ourselves, and we did just that.

We thought that it would be fun to take a little canoe ride down Juniper Springs Creek, otherwise known as the Juniper Springs Canoe Run. So, we made our plans to use the next warm day to rent a canoe and take the 4 1/2 hour “cruise” down the creek. We were told by the Ranger that it was a “challenging trip.” We viewed the video that had been made of a family drifting along pointing out the various sights along the way. It didn’t look too difficult. But the Ranger said, “There are trees that have fallen across the creek and you’ll need to do the “limbo” in order to get under them. And some trees are submerged and you have to be on the lookout so you don’t hit those. There is also some “whitewater” where a spring is bubbling up and you just need to not try to paddle fast through those rapids but just let the rapids take you through. Don’t get in a rush, just take it easy and enjoy yourselves.”

We got our canoe and took along with us a cotton-type bag that contained some sandwiches for lunch as well as drinking water and some snacks. After all, it was a 4 1/2 hour trip and we weren’t starting out till almost 11 am. Just before we put our canoe into the water another ranger said to us, “You’re not taking your computer are you?!” I replied, “No, it’s just our iPad that we use for a camera and video recorder.” “Well,” she replied, “I hope you have a backup of your pictures because you will capsize.”

Now you must understand that for her to tell us that we were definitely going to capsize was sort of an affront to us. After all, we owned a canoe back home. We have been canoeing for years. We just didn’t capsize canoes. And while I didn’t want to say that to her face, nevertheless, I thought it! She did, however, suggest that we purchase a dry bag at the camp store in which we could put our iPad. So, when I went back to the store to get our paddles, I looked at the dry bag and the sticker price of $6 and decided, “Well, what could it hurt? It’s a small investment and I can put my wallet and car keys inside it to keep them dry from the drops of water that naturally come when you change sides using the paddle.” So, I bought it! And, I put our iPod, iPad, car keys, and wallet into the pouch and sealed it up.

Then we began our beautiful canoe trip down the creek. At first we were a little concerned that the shallowness of the water would be a problem. But it wasn’t and as Bonnie remarked several times, it was indeed beautiful and we were rejoicing in God’s creation. But then the current picked up a little and the creek got a little deeper and we came across those trees fallen across the creek and lying beneath the water as well. Yet we continued on without fear, remarking how we could tell the ranger that the warnings of capsizing were over-rated and we had made it through unscathed.

I told Bonnie as we started our trip, “Take out the iPad and let’s chronicle our trip down the creek. And, Oh! You can reverse the camera on the iPad to take a picture of me in the back.” So, she did just that. What fun! What a wondrous God to make all of this for us to enjoy!

After a couple of hours we were getting pretty tired dealing with the constant curves to the left and then to the right and “Watch out there’s a log under water ahead.” The current was getting faster and we found ourselves often being pushed into the bushes and thickets along the creek. There were a few times when we got stuck because of an underwater log sticking up where we didn’t want it to be and had to struggle to get loose. And then it happened. . .we capsized!

It happened pretty quickly and before we knew it we were in the water and making grabs for our thermoses, sandwiches, snack boxes, and iPad floating with the current down the stream. The canoe became full of water and we needed to get it over to the shore in order to empty it and secure our belongings. The water was only waist deep but the current was relentless. We lost the sandwiches and a couple of our thermoses and one of Bonnie’s sandals. Fortunately, the iPad was in the dry bag and we were grateful it was there.

After struggling with the canoe we eventually got our stuff back in it and ourselves too. And we were able to retrieve everything except our sandwiches and their container. We found the other items caught in branches at various curves in the creek. When we saw the bread floating on the water we knew that our sandwiches were history.

No, the reference at the beginning of this article is not about “casting your bread upon the waters.” Rather, the reference is for these words, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Yes, the Lord was teaching me a lesson that day about my pride. Even though I hadn’t boasted to the ranger that we wouldn’t capsize, nevertheless that prideful spirit was within me.

You might say, “Do you think that you may not have capsized if you hadn’t boasted within yourself?” Well, I don’t know. More than likely we would have turned over anyway. Maybe not. But the lesson is still there nonetheless. Even though it’s a little thing, God doesn’t like it and wants to rid all of us of thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. I’m grateful for the capsizing because I’m grateful for God loving me even when my thoughts are not right or when I’m acting in a non-Christlike manner. Even when it’s not being outwardly expressed, there is still work to be done to bring me into conformity with Jesus. I realize I’m not perfect yet and I’m grateful for God’s continuing love and work in me day by day!