At the age of 13 I experienced the absolute power of a river. During a Memorial Day rafting trip our guide asked if anyone wanted to swim in the rapids without the raft. Maybe my frontal cortex was not fully developed yet or my competitive spirit kicked in when I saw others raise their hands, so I raised mine.
As I jumped into the rushing Colorado River my body quickly turned numb and before I knew it I was swept away into a set of white water rapids. It was a helpless feeling as the river held me completely in its powerful grasp, All I could remember was the guide saying, “keep your legs down river to bounce off the rocks!” But that idea became hopeless as I was plunged under the freezing water bouncing off rocks and being held under by a force that seemed impossible to fight against. Just when I thought this could be the end I popped up 50 yards down stream where the river mellowed and I made my way to the rocky bank. This was an unforgettable moment! Ever sine that day whenever I drive past this section of the Colorado I distinctly recall the time my body was totally controlled by the powerful Colorado while wearing a life jacket that was way too small for me.
Earlier that same year I immersed myself into another River, one even more powerful than the mighty Colorado. It was the River of God’s Amazing Grace. One Sunday night I fell before the cross of Christ with the weight of my sin. I was plunged under this weight, only to be brought up by unseen hands of love and placed on a firm foundation as a New Creation. Instead of feeling numb, I felt alive with love, joy, and peace, which resulted in a river of uncontrollable tears. But at the age of 13 I didn’t fully understand the glorious, awesome, power of the River of God’s Sovereign Grace. Forty years later I’m still trying to grasp the power of Heaven’s River and surrender to the life giving flow of His Love. Through this journey down the River I would like to share a few things the Spirit continues to teach me.
Stay in It = Unlike the Colorado River, there is no safer place to be than in the River of God. You and I were created to flow in Father’s love . This love is powerful, overwhelming at times, and demands that we trust Him completely with our entire lives, but over time we learn that we were created for this and nothing else will satisfy one’s soul like His presence.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Surrender to It = The Colorado was too powerful for me to fight against, my kicking and flailing only zapped me of strength. The River of God demands that I let go of the illusion of being in control and daily die to my selfish will in order to find true life in the River.
“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambitions, shoulder your cross daily, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life.” Luke 9:23-24
Spirit Lead Me = When you stay in the flow and surrender to the sovereign power of God you open up your life for one wild and crazy trip down the River. I have been learning over the past 40 years that I don’t know where the River is always going to take me, yet I must be open to His leading. I’ve also learned that wherever this cascading journey takes me, what is most important is not what I do, rather who I become. The River has a language all of its own and the more you stay in the flow, the more you understand it and a follow it. This is our hope:
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.
My jump into the Colorado almost took my life, so I would not recommend this idea. However, my jump into the powerful River of Grace took my life, and I would most emphatically encourage it. Yes its power can be overwhelming, even scary at times, but the more I Stay in It, Surrender to It, and let the Spirit have His way-the more saturated my soul becomes with a gift that no words can explain. Join me as I continue to cry out “O LORD keep me in the flow…!”