ronniemcbrayer300 maroonKENTUCKY (4/28/13) - When I was a bit younger and a bit braver, a group of friends and I shot the rapids on the Ocoee River in southeast Tennessee. The Ocoee, which I think is the Cherokee word for “terrified rafter” is a world class whitewater adventure.

Now, I’m no world class athlete, and that became evident on the river. I so feared being sucked out of the boat that I literally dug my toenails into the rubber raft I was paddling. But by the time we finished, I was on a first name basis with rapids named Broken Nose, Table Saw, and Diamond Splitter – and it was an incomparable thrill.

Whitewater sports began quite accidentally on this river. The Ocoee is dammed to produce electricity. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has operated their dams for years, and for the longest time, TVA’s production of electricity killed the river. Only a trickle of water, no more than ankle deep in places, flowed through the gorge.

But in the late 1970s a portion of one of their dams broke, sending the full force of the Ocoee through the canyon for the first time in decades. Whitewater outfitters and kayakers jumped all over the opportunity, setting up impromptu river tours. After the dam was repaired, legislators were wise enough to pass laws to protect the recreation that had developed on the river. So, for 112 days a year the Ocoee River is “turned on” for kayaking and rafting enthusiasts.

On the morning I arrived at the river there was nothing but rocks. “How are we going to shoot the rapids when I can rock-jump across the river and never get wet?” I asked my guide. Speaking like a cross between Jedi-Master Yoda and some drug-empowered oracle he said, “Sweat it not, dude. The water is coming.”

He was right. The water was coming. Thirty miles upstream the water had been released. It took a little while to get there, but as I watched, the babbling stream turned into a torrent of whitewater, and the adventure was afoot. The power of those rapids was incredible. I couldn’t dictate to the river with my little paddle and rubber dinghy any more than I could turn on or off the dam’s floodgates.

There was no control over the water; I had to go where it pushed me. Sure, at times I could steer, paddle or even stop, hiding behind a huge rock; but when released over the rapids all I could do was scream, flay at the water, and pray. The power of the water had been unleashed, and we were just along for the ride.

Living out the life of faith is a lot like that. We have our raft, paddle, and are in this boat with our friends on the same journey. What began as a dribble is now an unstoppable flood. We are paddling along best we can, moved by the unleashed Spirit of God.

And sometimes we are more than moved. Sometimes life and faith are not placid escapades of reflection and peace. Instead, the journey of faith becomes a bone-jarring exercise in survival, crashing over the rocks and through the rapids, threatening to drown us. We are often jostled from the security of our raft, forced to scream out of desperation for a rope or lifeline of rescue. We struggle and fight just to keep our noses above the water line.

We may get the relieved opportunity to list in quiet pools, catching our breath and resting our muscles from time to time. But then, the water will pick up and we are on our way again. Sure, there are things we can and should do along the way: Pray, hang on, watch out for our friends, and paddle like our hair is on fire. But ultimately we are riding the wave of God as he does his good will and purpose. His power has been turned on in our lives, and all we have to do is hang on and let it take us where it will.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources. your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

Weather Sponsored by

1 DOW 16,790.19
+13.76 (0.08%)    
2 S&P 1,979.92
-7.13 (-0.36%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,748.36
-32.90 (-0.69%)    

Stock Report Sponsored by

In Other News...

Fall Photography Weekend at Pennyrile Forest Begins Oct. 16-18

DAWSON SPRINGS, Ky. (10/5/15) — Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park will host its Fall Photography Weekend on Oct.… Read More

Juvenile Injured When Vehicle Strikes Electric Pole

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (10/5/15) — A juvenile was injured as a passenger in a vehicle that struck an electric pole this… Read More

Most Read This Week

September 30, 2015 10812

Dawson Woman Dead After Princeton Factory…

by SurfKY News
October 01, 2015 7509

UPDATE: Madisonville Woman Charged after Bank…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 30, 2015 4819

Four Arrested After Allegedly Exposing Children…

by SurfKY News
October 01, 2015 3588

Clay Man Charged with Burglaries; Two Charged…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 3582

Four Charged with Drug Offenses after Motel…

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

September 16, 2015 12694

Mining Accident Fatality - Update

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
September 30, 2015 10812

Dawson Woman Dead After Princeton Factory…

by SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

October 05, 2015 3582

Four Charged with Drug Offenses after Motel…

by SurfKY News
October 06, 2015 2199

County Passes Occupational Tax Ordinance

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 1972

'Here's Your Sign'

by Samantha Carver, SurfKY News
October 06, 2015 1612

Dawson Man Charged with Cultivating Marijuana,…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 1486

Juvenile Injured When Vehicle Strikes Electric…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 1390

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports Released -…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 1289

Dawson Springs Police Reports Released

by SurfKY News
October 06, 2015 1174

Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Charge for Earlington…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 883

UK Biofuels Team Receives Nearly $1 Million from…

by SurfKY News
October 05, 2015 829

HPD Locates Suspect in Abandoned House with Child

by SurfKY News