The River of Doom

River of Doom
By: Scott Heaton

It was supposed to be a relaxing day of tubing down the Guadalupe River. But like most things in my life, it didn’t go according to the plan. The water was freezing cold, my tube was deflated, and to top it all off the river was wilder than usual after the recent Texas thunderstorms. It felt more like a six flags roller coaster than a relaxing weekend trip.
After hours of gritting my teeth and flexing my core to stay afloat, I could finally see the end of the aquatic ride from hell. But lo and behold, there was a small sloping waterfall to complete my tubing excursion. I’m sure on any other day it would have been a delightful dip down to the finish, but today it seemed like Niagra Falls.
I sat up on the tube as high as I could and clenched the flaming-hot, sun-soaked rubber of my tube mumbling a silent prayer to the river gods. And then I heard her…
A girl was crying about 10 yards in front of me, holding onto a rock for dear life. She lost her tube somehow and her crocodile tears made her look like she was seeing the Grim Reaper march toward her swinging his bloodstained scythe.
Being the modern gentlemen that I am, I could not let the damsel in distress remain in her state of peril, so I waddled on over to her watery prison and bravely offered her my tube so that she could safely float down the rapids. Without acknowledging my fearless sacrifice, or even voicing the smallest feelings of appreciation, she ripped the tube from under my butt and tumbled down the rapids, not looking once at her savior who was stranded in her former state.
I would like to think I stayed calm in the situation, but freezing water pounding against your sun-burnt chest can rattle the mind of any man. I recalled our so called ‘training’ before we got on the river, from the toothless redneck who droned through his speech that he had probably given everyday for 20 years, “If ya find yerself without yer tube, make sure ya put yer feet in front a ya.”
So I did the only thing I could, I put my feet in front of me and braved the deadly rapids.
Down and down I tumbled crashing into more rocks than I care to remember. While my head came above the water in precious spurts, I could hear the crowd gathered on shore gasping in horror each time I pounded another stone.
“At least I’ll die a hero,” I thought, “That is, if that stupid girl would ever tell anyone what I did.”
But despite my pessimism, I survived the falls and somehow crawled out of the river of doom. My worried friends pulled me out of the river and tried to stifle their concern upon seeing my cuts and bruises. My pride was doing ok, knowing that I had done something noble. Then, the prettiest girl in the group walked up to me, and I thought for sure she would confess her undying love after having seen my selflessness.
She had a towel over her shoulder that she extended my way and bent over so she could whisper in my ear. I thought I could die and go to heaven… that is until she told me,
“Scott, you lost your trunks in the water, and you must’ve rolled through a nest of leeches.”
To this day my friends still call me leech-butt.

Introverts in the Church: Finding Out Place in an Extroverted Culture

The following book review, I think will be helpful to those who are in the church, and specifically to those in the church that have felt like they just don’t fit.

I have been heavily involved in ministry for a few years now, and it is undoubtedly a rewarding enjoyable job, but the fact of the matter is- it’s hard. At times the lifestyle seems to be a whirlwind of frenzied meetings, counseling, and emotionally-charged-busyness. And it was in the midst of feeling like this that I ‘Stumbled Upon’ a book by Adam McHugh called Introverts in the Church.

Let me start off by saying that for the longest time I have considered myself an extrovert, because I do well in crowds and tend to be talkative in a big group. However, this is a common misconception- (very simplified) an extroverted individual is someone who gets energy from being around other people, and an introverted person is one who recharges by being alone. Once I understood this, it became obvious that I was an introvert. The combination of this discovery, and feeling inadequate to do ministry due to the aforesaid feelings, I committed to using some of my Amazon.com gift card money and purchased McHugh’s book.

Here are few quotes that made me jump up and down with excitement, because it is precisely how I felt/feel about ministry in our culture:

“American religion is conspicuous for its messianically pretentious energy, its embarrassingly banal prose, and its impatiently hustling ambition.”

“It’s as if the moment we surrender our lives to Christ we are issued a flashing neon sign that says “GO!” There is a restless energy to evangelicalism that leads to a full schedule and a fast pace. Some have said that, in Christian culture, busyness is next to Godliness. We are always in motion, constantly growing never expanding.”

“We (introverts) don’t avoid social situations like we would a trip to the dentist, but sometimes we avoid them like we might avoid exercise, because we lack the energy for it. Long periods without quiet refueling leave introverts feeling physically exhausted and emotionally hollow.”

I kept reading the limitless artillery of quotes like this and I was thrilled. I thought, “I’m not the only one!” I kept standing up from my recliner to hunt down my wife so I could read her McHugh’s words that so accurately represented my heart.

Introverts in the church helped me to understand, that I’m not bad at ministry, but that I am an introvert in a extroverted ‘business.’ It also helped me to understand that I can still be successful in ministry while offering helpful tips on how to construct a schedule that works well with my introverted-ness. The fact of the matter is- introverts function differently. We require serious amounts of time to collect our thoughts and process alone. And in a culture of church that posts billboards that say things like ‘When Christians rest they rust’ it can be difficult to do this. (By the way I really did see a sign that said that).

So if you feel out of place in ministry, because it seems so overly-busy, or if ministry-related meetings take discipline for you to attend,  or if the words “The Great Commission” make you cringe in guilt and shame, while simultaneously giving you crippling anxiety, please, please read this book.

For those that are concerned that McHugh will essentially advise introverts to retreat from community, you couldn’t be more wrong. He fully knows that community is essential, especially for introverts, and also places a high a value on the Great Commission, and offers helpful ways for introverts to approach our mandate that seems to be so difficult.

This one is a must read.

5 of 5.