In our scripture today, the Holy Spirit is described as a river. Jesus used the same term in the Gospel of John when He predicted the outpouring of His Holy Spirit on believers at Pentecost.
On a recent holiday in the northern part of the US State of Georgia, our family went ‘tubing’on the Chattahoochee River, which involved floating on inner tubes through various currents and scenery for about two hours. As our voyage progressed, the Lord pointed out to me several truths about how His Holy Spirit is like a river.
First, we had to enter the river. The river was always flowing and we could have stood at its banks all day and watched it move, but we couldn’t participate in its movement until we entered. Once in the river, we didn’t really control where we went or what speed we travelled. The river dictated that. Sometimes we felt (and really were) completely out of control as the river rushed us along. Other times we were moving slowly - a time of rest before the next rapids. We got stuck on rocks along the way and had to take some action to get unstuck. In these situations, it always proved much more effective to work with the flow of the river, rather than against it.
Occasionally, various other ‘tubers’ would join us on our journey. The river brought us together and even if we’d wanted to separate, the river didn’t allow us. Then they would drift on – the river moving them as it pleased. In all this, we did have some control within the river. In fact, the more physically fit the tubers were, the more effect they could have on where they travelled within the river. Still, in many cases, regardless of the fitness of the tubers, the river determined the path.
So it is with life in the Spirit. We must choose to enter into that life. It may look exciting and we may be drawn to the river, but we must make the choice to surrender to the river and enter in. If we choose to enter in, the Spirit carries us along. At times, we feel swept along, completely out of control. At other times, we wonder why we aren’t moving faster or why others seem to be passing us on our journey. Sometimes we get stuck in our journey and we find ourselves trying to fight the current of the river. Occasionally, the Lord links our lives with others for a period time in the river – for encouragement, friendship and help.
We can help navigate the river that is life in the Spirit more effectively if we maintain good spiritual health and discipline – spending time in the Scriptures and in prayer. But in the end, surrender to the Spirit’s power and flow is required - trusting the river to carry us to the finish line where we hope to hear “well done, you good and faithful servant.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your Spirit. Help me not to fight the river of Your Spirit and to be thankful in the journey You’ve laid out for me – for the fast times, the slow times and for all the people You bring me into relationship with on my voyage. Amen.
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