The other day I was reminiscing about a great adventure I
had early in my ministry. I was with a team taking a group of Cree boys on a
canoe trip to York Factory in Northern Manitoba. York Factory was one of the
early Hudson Bay Company outposts. Furs were taken by river there and goods
from England were shipped there and barged down to Winnipeg. The plan for our
trip is that we would paddle 3 – 4 days with the current to York Factory and we
would drop off drums of gasoline on the way so we could motor back against the
current. The whole trip would take less than a week (or so the planners
We left on the first of July. I was wearing a borrowed parka
and kneeling on a life jacket that would never fit my outfit. It snowed all
that first day and I prayed for sunshine. The next day in answer to my prayers
the sun broke out and along with it came the black flies! As the pinkest person
for miles around I became the tastiest treat for every black fly in the north.
I began to pray for snow! I tried to hold up my end with paddling but spent
much of the day swatting at the maddening swarm of black flies that homed in on
me. At dusk we stopped and our guides Angus and Joe made a kind of make shift
tepee and set a fire inside using green boughs as fuel. Angus said to me in his
limited English “Stand there!” I stood in the smoke for as long as I could stand.
I came out black as soot except for the trails my tears had left on my cheeks.
Joe instructed that I was not to wash. I obeyed and I was not bothered by black
flies the rest of the trip.
A few days into our trip we came to some rapids which were
considered too dangerous for the boys to shoot, so they were put ashore while
the adults took the canoes through the white water. I was startled to realise
that by adults they meant me! Most of these kids knew more about canoes than I
ever would. Joe said, “Follow me and do what I do.” I don’t think I had ever
before studied and copied anyone as closely, all the time praying! You’ve
probably guessed that I survived the adventure.
Life as a Jesus follower is a lot like that canoe trip. It
ought to be an adventure as we experience the abundant life Jesus promised
those who would follow Him. We will often find ourselves in situations which
are beyond us. In times like this I hear the words of my guide saying “Keep
your eye on me and do as I do.” Joe taught me an important lesson; if I am to
make it through the white water of life I must study my Guide and Saviour, and copy Him