Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Stand Up Paddleboards

An Arkie's Faith column from the July 10, 2019, issue of The Mena Star.

“You will be riding with me on the Megalodon,” my daughter said. Everyone had such a good time floating the Ouachita River the week before that we decided to do it again this weekend. Last week six of us floated the river in a rubber raft while the rest of the group used paddleboards. This week the water wasn’t high enough to float in a raft, so we used paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. The Megalodon is a large, very stable, multiple person paddleboard, but I was a bit nervous about riding it. I had never been on a paddleboard. Even though my daughter has lots of experience on paddleboards, I wasn’t sure how I would do.

Once all the paddleboards were inflated, we were ready to head down the river. I crawled onto Megalodon and sat down. As we paddled down the river, I was surprised by how stable the Megalodon was. I had expected more movement. Before long, I was comfortable enough with the board to try a kneeling position. It was easier for me to paddle from that position. When I got the courage to try standing, I was able to balance standing up without any problems. I enjoyed paddling down the river, standing up on the paddleboard.

As we made our way down the river, it started to rain. It was a soft, gentle rain, and the water was beautiful as the raindrops made tiny splashes and rings all over the surface of the river. The rain didn’t last too long, but it rained off and on all day. The scenery on this stretch of the Ouachita River, from Simms to Dragover, was spectacular. There were many beautiful rock formations along the banks of the river. We saw Great Blue Herons fishing in the river. The water was so clear that we could see the fish, including several large Gar. The serenity of the river was occasionally interrupted by frogs croaking and fish jumping and splashing.

I was enjoying going down the river on the paddleboard. I became comfortable standing up and felt stable most of the time. Occasionally I would feel a bit unstable, but by bending my knees and shifting a foot, I was able to regain my balance. Before long, I was quite comfortable and had confidence in my newfound ability to stand up and paddle a paddleboard. We went through several small rapids, and each time I would go from a standing position to a kneeling position before we went through the rapids. As my confidence level rose, I thought, “the next rapids we come to; I will stay standing,”

Before long we came to some small rapids that looked very tame. “I am going to stay standing through these rapids,” I told my daughter. As we started into the rapids, my daughter realized that they were very shallow. “We are going to stick,” she hollered back to me. I knew that when we made that sudden stop, I would not be able to keep my balance. I started to go down into a kneeling position, but before I could get down, the paddleboard came to an abrupt stop, and I was thrown into the water. It was a hard fall into the rocky shallow river, and it hurt. After sitting in the water for a few moments, I realized that even though my leg and my hand were aching, I wasn’t badly hurt. After my daughter dragged the board off the rocks, I crawled back on, and we continued down the river. Although I stood back up, I wasn’t as cocky about my abilities and the next rapids we came to, I kneeled on the board instead of standing up

At Fulton Branch, we stopped for a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips, hummus, cherries, grapes, and cookies. As we ate our lunch, we had a short devotional. We talked about how important stability is in our lives. Stability is important when you are on a paddleboard, but stability is also important in life. In either case, if you lose stability, you will be thrown off. We talked about the things that help make us stable, like family, church, faith, and the Bible.

On, I found the following information. “We think it’s helpful to focus on the most important factor for true beginners: stability. Why is SUP stability so important when buying your first SUP? You need something stable to get your bearings. Becoming familiar with balance and water surface fluctuations involves practice and developing muscle memory. If you start with a narrow board – say a racing or touring design – you will constantly fight the board and lose out on this fundamental phase of learning. Plus it will be less fun. The wider the board, the more stable the platform.”

Just like stability is an important factor for stand up paddle boarding, it is important in our lives. Have you ever felt uneasy, unsettled, or unstable? Or maybe a better question is; who hasn’t? How do we overcome these feelings? George Muller, director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England, had these feelings, but he had a plan for stability. He wrote in His diary on May 9, 1841; "Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted and encouraged.” Isaiah 33:6 (NET) tells us that God “is your constant source of stability; he abundantly provides safety and great wisdom; he gives all this to those who fear him.” When we search for wisdom and knowledge in the Bible, we become more stable in our lives! Let’s aim to spend more time in the Word and gain more stability in our lives.

Author Jim Gerrish writes, “In other articles, I have referred to this age as the ‘Jello Era’ of human history.  In the last twenty or thirty years, we have seen many things shake and tremble before our eyes. These are things we used to trust in, like banks, jobs, companies, governments, family values, etc. In all these areas, and in many more, our world is beginning to look about as stable as a big bowl of Jello. Today, we are all being blasted with the words and opinions of men. The evening newscast is a good example of this. These opinions change by the day. In a week or even in another day these opinions may no longer be considered true. They are like the grass and flowers Peter mentions, but the word of God stands forever. If we build our opinions, our theologies, and our lives upon God’s word, we will be like the man who built his house on the rock.”

Gentle Reader, we all need stability in our lives. Stability is important on a stand up paddleboard, and it is important in every aspect of our lives. Let’s aim to spend more time with God and his word, the Bible. That is the only way to gain more stability in our lives. Don’t let it be said about you; “You are mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures. And you do not know the power of God.” Matthew 22:29 (NIRV)

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