When I was little and went horseback riding with my sisters, I had a hard time keeping up. My problem was that I rode an old appaloosa mare who couldn’t quite keep up with my sisters’ faster horses. But I didn’t mind. That is, until we came to the edge of a river. My sisters on their big horses thought it was fun and exciting to cross the river at the deepest part. They never seemed to notice that my old mare didn’t have the strength of their mounts – we would get ‘stuck’ in the swirling waters. It was scary, but I wasn’t about to let my older siblings know!
But I remember one time when we were wading through the Gorsuch Switch Crossing on the Patapsco River. It had rained earlier that week and the river was brown and swollen. As our horses waded out into the turbulence, I stared at the swirling waters rushing by. It made me scared, dizzy, and I began to lose my balance in the saddle.
The voice of my sister Jay broke through my panic.
“Look up, Joni! Keep looking up!”
Sure enough, as soon as I focused on my sister on the other riverbank, I was able to finish the crossing.
Even though the feeling of sitting on a horse is a long-distant memory, that other feeling… that of becoming frightened by the dizzying sight of swirling waters isn’t so distant. It’s so easy to stare at the many uncertainties swirling around my health, like pain that’s persistent, cancer that haunts, and a disability that’s weakening with age. But then I recall my sister’s words, “Look up!” I remember the courage I gained from looking toward my family waiting on the other side of the river. Every time I feel my courage waning, I remind myself “Look up, Joni! Keep looking up! There’s my Savior and sure footing just ahead!” That’s when my courage is renewed.
Friend, if today’s problems feel dizzying and you’re losing your balance; “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
By Joni Eareckson Tada