Grace Flows; We Follow

We had some landscaping done recently, including newly grass-seeded areas which we have to soak several times a day. Standing there with the hose, as I watch puddles grow in the dips and furrows, and then overflow into trickling, exploring rivulets, I see an analogy of God’s grace and love. How is the course for these mini-streams determined?

Now, we know that water flows ‘downward’, drawn by gravity. Let’s say that the lowest point is God’s purpose, ultimately pre-destined, but the course these rills (our lives) take can be varied, steered, so to speak, by the pebbles and tiny piles of dirt they encounter. Maybe ‘diverted’ is a more appropriate word. After all, we could say that the runoff ‘wants’ to go straight.

We can be like that. A lot like that. We make plans – expectations of direct paths to our goals. Then life happens, our molehills and mountains, and we can either get damned up into angry reservoirs going nowhere, or we adapt and find a new way of least resistance. Around, usually. Sometimes over or through, when we’re full.

My mind ripples, and I see a lazy river and white-water rafting. The easy way and the hard way. But which is which? To travel faster, we have work that paddle in the lazy river. (That’s self-control in the mundane times.) Less effort is needed in the rapids; but quickness, timing, experience, and no small amount of hope and trust are vital to avoid the rocks. (I’d call that ‘going with the flow’ or leaning on the rudder of faith.) In either case, God’s grace and love are the current, and we follow, carried along, like it or not. Or we stubbornly row against His purpose, but not forever.

I remember making paper boats to launch in a road-side brook, and running downstream with it as it made its journey. I’ve heard about messages tucked in bottles and thrown in the sea that take years to reach distant shores. Parts of a missing airliner have washed up on a particular coast, separated by months. All things flowing according to God’s course, and arriving there in God’s timing.

Naturally, God’s blessings are often compared to moving water. “Your Love is Like A River.”  “Waterfall.” “Beneath The Waters (I Will Rise).”

It’s how we respond that I’m thinking about today. Faith is trusting that the water is taking us to where we are meant to go, no matter the intensity of the current. At times, we will need to row, row, row. Other times, we just need to cling to the sides of the raft, trusting our guides, or be a part of the crew working the paddles in unison, to ride the flood safely. In both cases, we’re following the river’s course, and our actions are either simply slowing our progress or making the trip ultimately easier (and more enjoyable, peaceful even).

“Following [Jesus] is not trying to figure out which door to open. Nor is it trying to batter down the entrance, only to find Jesus is not behind that door.
“His new path for us may include unexpected or unwelcome events. But as His plan unfolds, and we follow Him in obedience, we’ll understand at least one of His reasons: greater glory for Jesus.”
(Rebecca Barlow Jordan, Mornings With Jesus)

So, brothers and sisters, be careful that none of you has the evil thoughts that cause so much doubt that you stop following the living God. But encourage each other every day, while you still have something called “today”. Help each other so that none of you will be fooled by sin and become too hard to change. We have the honor of sharing in all that Christ has, if we continue until the end to have the sure faith we had in the beginning.
(Hebrews 3:12-14)

 

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