God Is a River
Brad A. Martell of Spokane, WA, USA
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test! -2 Corinthians 13:5
The Salmon River was roaring through the canyon as I drove south on Idaho Highway 95. Water crashed against submerged boulders throwing up three to five feet of frothy whitewater. Weary patches of snow still clung to the pine-tree shaded banks, but with the coming spring would soon melt drop by drop into the surge.
That tremendous force stirs up and carries loose sediments down river. The water cuts into the earth-sometimes gently, sometimes dramatically, eroding its banks and scouring the tenacious pine roots. This time of year, the Salmon River explodes with energy, swirls with constant change, and splashes with transforming promise, creating oxygen-rich waters for life to continue to thrive.
However, this transforming storm of a river can be disconcerting-even frightening. As it courses through the canyon bringing blessings of new and potential life, it also changes life, participating in the larger cycles of life and death. It can be downright scary! Perhaps that is why in Christianity we have many images and metaphors of God being a rock, a foundation, a solid place to build our lives. The hymn, “My Life Flows On in Endless Song” CCS 263, describes God as “that Rock [to which] I’m clinging” (Robert Lowry, xc2xa9Praise Publications, Inc.). The image expresses our reliance on God. God will protect us. If we cling to God during the storms of life, we will be safe and at peace.
But, what if God doesn’t want us to just cling for safety, to hold so tightly to the rock that we never allow our life to “flow on in endless song”? Imagine instead, that God is the rock and the river. Peter Mayer wrote a song entitled “God Is a River.” The chorus is “God is a river, not just a stone / God is a wild, raging rapids /And a slow, meandering flow / God is a deep and narrow passage / And a peaceful, sandy shoal / God is the river, swimmer / So let go” (xc2xa9 2014 Peter Mayer).
What might happen in your life if you let go, if you imagined God as a river to swim in? Let us be courageous enough to let go of the rock to which we are clinging and be swept away into the “wild, raging rapids…slow, meandering flow…deep and narrow passage…[and] peaceful, sandy shoal” of Christ’s mission. (Also, please see “The Long Journey” www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ILcN7LTxaQ&feature=youtu.be )
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver).
Spend a few moments paying attention, wherever you are. Notice your surroundings. What draws your focus? Look more closely at detail and color. Notice what pulls or prods within you. How is the God-in-all-things speaking to you through what you see and feel right here, right now?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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