Problems or Distractions?

On Sunday, my brother Caleb and I went tubing on Deep Creek in western North Carolina. As many of you know, I have been at Southern Adventist University for the last week and a half taking a class for my graduate degree. Since Deep Creek was only a two hour drive away and Caleb wanted to do something on the water, we figured this would be a fun thing to do. Once we rented our inner tubes, we hiked up this mile-long trail along the creek before attempting to float back down to where we were parked. The man who rented the inner tubes to us kindly told us that about one in every two people end up flipping over into the water. Well, guess who the lucky one was. Except I didn't just flip once. I tipped over repeatedly! It seemed I couldn't make it over any kind of rapid without ending up under the water. On my way back up the trail for our second trip, however, I noticed that everyone seemed so relaxed. How could they be relaxed? I was fighting to keep my inner tube upright and it still didn't work! Then a thought hit me. What if they were staying upright successfully because they were relaxed? I figured I'd give it a try. Instead of focusing on the rapids, I simply relaxed, and focused on getting down the river and enjoying the ride. From then on, I never tipped over my inner tube.

Something else dawned on me as I was peacefully floating down the creek. In a movie, the hero will sometimes be fighting against someone who seems to have them matched, strength for strength. There's no way the hero is going to win and he's starting to get tired. Then suddenly, he hears the cry of someone who needs help. Throwing the opponent to the side, the hero rushes to the person's aid as if the opponent never existed and had no more strength than a cardboard cutout. This is the way it was for me on the river. I discovered that, in order to be successful and not get bogged down by things, we need to look at the "rapids" in our lives as distractions, not as problems. If we see them as problems, we focus on them and they become big and powerful. But if we look at them as distractions, then we can brush them aside as we continue towards our goal. The writer of Hebrews had this in mind when he said, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:1, 2). Jesus is our goal. The sins which so easily ensnares us are just distractions. Won't you brush the devil aside and run with endurance the race that is set before you?