Friday, April 17, 2009

The River

There is a river in RS that flows through a campground and nature reserve. The river is fairly shallow and calm with small rapids at first, and then descends in a series of progressively larger waterfalls, some of which are small enough that one can jump off of them.
Recently, we were at a birthday party at the campground and I was standing in the water with several of the younger children. They were playing in the water, which was about ankle deep and I was chatting with one of the other parents and feeling proud of myself that I was doing my part in getting a bit wet and playing with the kids. The kids got off into some slightly deeper water, and as I was reaching to help one of them, I pulled up the leg of my swimsuit so it wouldn’t get wet. She asked me, “what are you doing?” and I said that I didn’t want to get wet, to which she replied something to the effect of “but you’re in a river!”

Later, I went down to spend time with our nine year old son who was jumping off the waterfalls. At the time, he was jumping off a five meter high waterfall with his friends. I watched him jump several times, and then I thought, “well, if a nine year old can do it, so can I!” I stripped off my shirt, told the boys I was going to jump, and started to work my way over to the edge of the rock. All of a sudden, the waterfall looked very high. I started to think, “you know, I really like this rock – it’s a perfectly good rock. Why would I want to jump off such a good rock? This waterfall is really high!” The water below seemed to swim around a bit. But then, two kids jumped right next to me, so what could I do?

I planned my strategy – I would jump off, keep my legs straight, and go in like an arrow. So, I screwed up my courage and jumped, scrunching myself up, closing my eyes, and unceremoniously landing rear-end first. Somewhat chagrined, but proud that I had jumped, I tried again – it looked just as high the second time, and as I gingerly moved toward the edge, I slipped, and had the choice of painfully falling down on the edge or pushing myself out and landing even more painfully than the first time. So, it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.

A week or so later, I was reflecting on the John 3:34, where John the Baptist ways that “God gives the Spirit without limit.” As I mulled on this, all of a sudden God brought my experience at the river to mind. As we know, water is representative of the Holy Spirit. He told me “you have been content to stand in the ankle deep water and feel proud of yourself that you’re getting wet. However, you really don’t want to get wet or uncomfortable, even though you are in the river! What I want is for you is to plunge all the way in, even though you know it’s going to be cold and scary!” God gives the Spirit without limit, but we have to choose whether or not we’re going to play in the shallows and look good, or whether we’re going to take the risk to jump off our nice comfortable rock into the scary unknown of all that God’s Spirit wants to do in and through us. I’m jumping. How about you?

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