Guiding on the Arkansas River is an entirely engaging experience. When one is paddling through a rapid, all the focus is on the water straight ahead. As a guide, my viewpoint has been from the river. I immerse myself in each trip by talking with my guests and concentrating on the direction of my boat. Being present in the moment is an important skill. However, there is also a danger of tunnel vision when only one perspective is seen.
Throughout the last four seasons, I have been almost exclusively a river guide. Meaning, I have not spent much time in the mountains, on the rock, or driving shuttle vehicles. However, late in this last season I began running the shuttle for a few river trips. The shuttle driver is responsible to drop off, take pictures of, and pick up the rafts. The Bighorn Sheep Canyon portion of the Arkansas is paralleled by highway 50 which offers a clear view of the river and the boats running it. Although I only needed to take pictures of our company’s boats, I was able to watch many different companies and guides run the rapids. I was struck by how many people watched and chatted about the boats as they splashed through. While I am aware of the photographers when I am guiding, I never paused to consider their perspective.
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12
Sitting by the side of the river, instead of being on it, gave me a new mindset. With the highway right beside it, the river is a bit of a fishbowl. There are lots of people who watch you as you raft and even through the Royal Gorge where no road is built, there is a train full of curious observers. I believe that there are some similarities found here between guiding and our walk with the Lord. There is far more exposure to observation on the river than I realized and in life, people often notice our actions and attitudes more than we suspect. I don’t know the names of many guides from the other companies, but I began to learn their personalities and characters by watching their interactions with their guests or their reactions when things didn’t go according to plan. As Christians, our witness is never turned off and we are under observation by the world. People watch us and inspect our behavior when trials come. If we live a consistent and faithful life, it will be noticed by those around. Our lives will cause others to wonder about the joy that we have found.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
God calls us to excellence in all things and honor in our conduct. Certainly, God knows all our thoughts and ultimately, we are accountable to Him. But those around you likely notice more than you realize. Like children watching their parents, very little escapes detection and the impact on lives is real. Be attentive in the little things and cognizant of the bystander. We will fall short of God’s holy law again and again. That is the sad reality of a broken world. However, the Lord’s grace surpasses all and what is carried inside a heart will make its way to the surface. Live out of the love that Christ has extended to you. Dwell in His presence and the light will radiate up through the everyday activities. Your calling is an anointed one and your life has importance.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
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