Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Living Waters

My life in Christ used to be like a ride down the river, with me in a canoe paddling furiously. I was navigating well, rowing hard and really making progress. I could go fast! And people admired my rowing ability!

Some were not as adept or wise as I. Some tried to row against the current, which seemed foolhardy and a waste of effort to me. I have even seen some, when their canoes had capsized, try to use their canoes as a barrier against the rushing waters. The chase of a capsized boat often absorbed people’s attention, causing much anxiety and causing some to abandon travel on the water all together.

My use of the canoe was more efficient, keeping me safely separated from the perils of getting dumped into the water. Sometimes I would get splashed by the water or put my hand in it. I might even rest and put my feet in the water, but never leave the safety of my boat. The water was fresh and cool and even a few drops were exhilarating, always a surprise and sometimes a shock. Still, I kept only in safe contact with the water, appreciating the comfort of my boat.

But Jesus, who is the living water, wanted more of me. He wanted me in the water. He could have raised a storm or put an obstacle in the river to throw me out, as I had seen Him do with some, but He knows me. He knew and placed the adventurer in me. So, He presented a tributary that flowed off of the previously known part of the river I had been managing and navigating. I could see down it just a little, then it bent out of sight. The water there was active and louder -- I was intrigued by what surprise it might hold for me.

It required, though, I get out of my boat, that which protected me and with which I had become familiar. I pushed the boat ashore and stowed my gear. I figured I could always come back and get it later.

I waded into those waters and soon, I was up to my neck - in deep - and the waters were fast and churning. It was a wild ride, my favorite kind. Most of the time, the current was white water - fast, bubbly. I had left hard gear behind, but anything else in my pockets and not secured to my body was soon lost, ripped away by the rushing current, although I wouldn’t even notice the loss until later. Even then, I realized I didn’t need those few paltry items.

For all the fury, I was never afraid. Oh, it was difficult, requiring all my strength and perseverance. It was harrowing and unknown, yet I knew I was never really in any danger.

Unlike when I was riding atop of the water, I now was very familiar with wetness. I was soaked. The water was in me as much as I was in it--in my hair, my eyes, ears and mouth. Plus, I discovered my relationship with water had changed.

Previously, I rode the current, using it to my advantage as best as I could. Here, my progress was determined by the river, not by my ferocious rowing. With my boat gone, I was still transported down the same river. Through the rapids which first lured me, I found myself in a large and deep expanse of the river - bottomless, cool, refreshing - where I didn’t need my boat and, in fact, didn’t want it.

Also, here I was less concerned with how much distance or speed I traveled. Now my focus was on the water. It not only carried me, but intrigued me by its depth and beauty. I found I could stretch out and let it wholly support my body or I could dive deep for treasures or cool relief. It also brought great things to me. Sometimes I would just be letting myself experience the feel of the water and the current would bring some new person or object to me.

Some people had gotten into the water of their own accord, answering their instinctive call into the water. They turned out to be fun and easy companions.

Some had been dumped overboard by various and sundry means. Most of them were thrashing and splashing, stirring up the water and making it difficult to focus and relax in the water. It was always good to dive deep to escape their turbulence.

Those still in boats and canoes didn’t seem to be in this part of the water. I imagine they tired of it, went ashore and traveled by other means. I don’t think they are going where I am going.

While I don’t really know the exact whereabouts of my destination, it doesn’t seem to matter, for I am getting the benefits of the water now. I am in it; it is in me!!

Come on in!! The water is fine!

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