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Crossing the river

A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people

July 13, 1999



Maybe you've never run into this kind of problem, but it really brought me to a stop. My best friend and I were backpacking in New Hampshire, and our trail crossed a river.

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My friend crossed easily, stepping from rock to rock. I, on the other hand, got about halfway across - and froze. She came back and took my backpack, but even then I couldn't do it. I felt like a major idiot because she'd already crossed the river twice, and I couldn't get off the same spot.

The problem was that the space between the rocks looked so huge to me. I was too scared to jump because the water looked deep.

Well, God had already helped me several times on this trip. So it seemed like a good idea to ask God for help again. And I started praying.

Sometimes things from the Bible help you pray. I'd already been helped by a psalm in the Bible. It says to God, "You make my feet run as fast as those of a deer, and you help me stand on the mountains." That thought of being confident in the mountains like a deer that can jump from rock to rock really helped. And also in that psalm it says, "You clear the way for me, and now I won't stumble" (Ps. 18:33, 36, Contemporary English Version). These thoughts seemed to be just what I needed to get over my fear. I started thinking I could trust God to help me get across that gap.

But the distance between the rocks still seemed immense.

Then I thought of Jesus, who even walked on water. I didn't exactly feel up to trying that. But the point of Jesus' life was to show people that God loves them, and that we really have all the qualities and thoughts we need in order to do good things in our lives.

To me, that meant God had given me enough intelligence to figure out how to get across a river. And enough trust for me to let Him lead me. And enough courage to stop being afraid.

So I looked down at the rocks again. And this time I saw how I could walk a little bit down the side of the rock I was on, so that the distance to the next rock wasn't so gigantic. I was still really praying to feel God with me. Then I jumped.

And I made it!

After that, it didn't seem so far between the other rocks, and I easily crossed to the other side, where my friend was wearing a grin about a mile wide. We both screamed and yelled with happiness.

What if you don't have to cross a river? Maybe for you, the scary things are different - having no friends. Dealing with things not being good at home. Seeing big changes coming at school this fall. But praying to God can help you, too.

God helps us because He loves us. And the love of God is not limited to people who are good-looking or rich or who have their act totally together. He helps all of us. God is Love. Something I always remember says, "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 13).

Yes, God really does love YOU. He will help you, just as He helped me during that backpacking trip. To get God's help, you just need to turn to Him. Ask Him to show you what to do next, or how to choose the right thing, or how to stick with what you think is right.

Then listen. The answer you get may be different from the one I got there on the rock. But you'll be able to tell that you're hearing God's voice, because what comes to you will feel good and loving. And it will help you find the path that you need to follow.

When you get your answer, take that step, and trust God to lead you to the next one, and the next one, and the one after that. And you'll get across your own particular "river," just as I got across mine.

Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalms 61:1, 2