…By Wambui

Being a good Christian, following the commandments, praying and reading the Bible regularly is a very safe way to live. It is almost like standing on the bank of the River Nile, watching the millions of gallons of water flowing past, carrying away with its force items as small as ants and as big as trees.

At some point, watching from a distance gets boring; the urge to be a part of the action overcomes you. Almost as if they can hear your thoughts, a group of old friends happen to pass by in a raft, so without a second thought, you grab an oar and head straight into the water. After all, you can swim, so what’s the big deal? For a Christian, that’s the point at which all the do’s and don’ts become stifling, and you feel like you need to shake things up a bit.

For the first 10 minutes, the ride is smooth and uneventful. The scenery is breathtaking and it’s all laughs in the raft. Then the water begins to get rough; there’s a whirlpool coming up ahead. The guy whose idea the ride was shouts, “To the left.” So you all paddle frantically and somehow manage to avoid spinning endlessly at one point in the river. To a Christian, this might be your first hangover. The friend who took you clubbing gave you some bitter soup and voilà!

The sun is still shining and the water is calm again, so all’s good, right? Wait a minute. The water seems to be flowing faster, and there’s a bend ahead. “Is that a rapid?” The girl next to you says, “Yeah, hold on tight, it’ll be rough.” True to her word, all of a sudden, all you can see is water. It’s everywhere. Its force is so much that it yanks your oar right out of your hand, slapping you in the process. You’re holding on so tight that your fingers are paining, and you can feel your shoe coming off, but you can’t let go. A Christian comes to this point when s/he realises that being in the thick of things is not easy. There are lies to keep up with, lifestyles to maintain, appearances to make, and all for what? Just to avoid looking ‘uncool’.

You feel yourself tilting over slowly, slowly, slowly, then you realise that you’re only still breathing because of the air pocket formed by the hollow of the raft. “Am I looking up at my seat?” you ask yourself. Your fingers are numb; you’re holding your breath; the raft is moving away, but you can do nothing – you’re at the water’s mercy. For a Christian, a drowning experience can be a chance for revival. When you realise that you’re helpless, you’re more likely to be open to God’s word. This drowning experience may come in form of drug/alcohol addiction, financial ruin, or a deep sense of loss or emptiness.

As the current sucks you deeper and deeper, and you can’t hold your breath any longer, you give up on the idea of dying peacefully in your sleep, and accept this unexpected, watery death.  Suddenly, the water is calmer, you feel the sun on your head and something soft grazes your knee. Mud? It seems this was not your day to die, so the current pushed you to the river bank. As Christians, do we have people around us who push, pull and prod us to live a good life? Do we do the same to others? Are we accountable to anyone who can keep us from getting into such “watery” situations?

You look around and see one of your friends who is so shaken that she refuses to get into the rescue boat (the drug addict who has refused rehab).  The girl who sat next to you in the raft is now on a stretcher, heavily bandaged on her knee and elbow (a baby and HIV from a “complicated”  relationship).  You look at yourself, see how muddy you are, one shoe missing, and wonder if you’ll ever be able to wear those expensive jeans again (guilt, sense of loss, doubt and anger).  As you pull yourself slowly to your feet, you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I just stay on the river bank in the first place?”

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