“Although we are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same river of life.” (Chief Oren Lyons)
That was the quote from a Native American in today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. It is easy to conjure up mental images of boats of all type, sizes and color floating or motoring along the vast river of life. One can even imagine clusters of people floating along on inner tubes (perhaps those are the retirees). But it’s harder to imagine being swept along by the river with nothing, no canoe or boat, not even an inner tube; but, that is the fate of the homeless. They are still there, in the river that the rest of us are on, but with no support at all. Perhaps they are just floating on the surface or maybe frantically dog paddling to keep afloat.
There is a tendency to try to ignore those people, lumping them in with the debris that we may also see floating in the river; however, we really can’t ignore the fact that, “there but for the grace of God go I.” They are other human beings; members of our tribe of humans who need and deserve our help. We cannot sweep them under the rug or pretend that they are not there, in the river with us. There may not be room in your boat for another rider; but perhaps there is a spare life vest in your boat that you could toss to them to help. If you look, you may find that there are programs already in place in your area to provide some assistance and help to the homeless. If so, maybe you can volunteer in those programs or at least contribute to them.
There are others floating along the river of life in vessels that are sinking. They may be depressed or suffering other mental issues or perhaps trapped in abusive relationships. Perhaps they have sent up flares of distress for other to see. Again, it is easy to try to look the other way, ignore their calls for help and by-pass their sinking boat, but it is not the right things to do. Hold out your hand and pull them back up as they sink. Sometimes just encouraging them to abandon that abusive, sinking ship is enough
The river of life that we are all on is not always a calm, peaceful stream. It has rough patches, like the rapids in real rivers. There are dangerous rocks and even waterfalls that we must navigate from time to time. Those times test our boats and us. If we have a boat with a strong keel, we have a better chance at survival. The best keel of all for life’s boats is a strong faith in God. That faith will not only keep our boat afloat, but it will also provide us with a rudder of compassion that will guide us to help those that we see along the way who don’t even have a boat.
In the Bible we read – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17). Therefore, the message is to thank God for the strong boat that he has provided for you in order to enjoy life’s ride down life’s river and to be ready to offer help to others whose boat may be sinking or who don’t even have a boat.
We maybe be all ON the river of life, but there are those who are IN the river and need our help. Be ready to throw a lifeline.