“Okay, Watkins. You first! Then we’ll take a turn.”
I accepted the challenge that no one could stay on the inner tube for very long. I should have known they were up to something unusual when I noticed my high school buddies grinning while giving me instructions and saying it would be fun. I enjoyed water skiing, but I had never seen or heard of anyone being pulled on an inflated truck tire inner tube behind a boat driven by a 100 horsepower engine. This would be a new experience for my eighteen-year-old body.
I tightened my life jacket, jumped into the lake, wrapped the double-handled ski rope over the top, down under, and up again around the inner tube. Lying with my stomach over the hole in the middle of the tube, I grabbed both handles of the ski rope, watched the boat take out the slack, and yelled, “Go!” The boat lurched forward. The strain on the inner tube caused it to plow into the water and I held on for dear life. After what seemed like forever, the inner tube surfaced on top of the water with me still in the middle. I was hardly able to see because of the splashing water constantly hitting me in the face.
The inner tube swerved side to side as my pals moved the boat back and forth, and it lunged up and down when we encountered the waves of other boats. As I continued to hang on with dogged determination, I realized the strain on the rope was pulling the handles back over the front of the inner tube to the point that my hands were now under the tube trying to hang on. All of a sudden I knew I was in a dilemma. If I let go of the rope handles, they would hit me in the face. If I continued to hang on, I would flip forward and perhaps get tangled in the rope.
At the same time, my buddies decided to really have some fun and made a tight turn with the boat, sending me airborne over the wake. The tube flipped and threw me rolling across the top of the water. For the first time in my life, I saw “stars.” I was nearly unconscious as the water engulfed me. I had no idea which way was up or how long it would take me to get some air. The life jacket fulfilled its purpose, though, and brought me to the surface – face up. What a relief! My friends circled back to pick me up and had to practically drag me into the boat.
We all have times when we don’t know whether to hang on and keep going or to give it all up. Perhaps we Christians experience that to a greater extent because we know we should keep going, but we get exhausted and discouraged. Ultimately something must give. During those times we need to trust the Lord to provide a way through and then follow the necessary steps to keep going forward.
Encourage yourself by taking time away from your daily routine and be refreshed. Spend dedicated time with the Lord in Bible study, prayer, and fasting.