Here she is! The train bridge we used to walk to...clearly a popular spot...(this is not my pic, I borrowed it off of panoramio.com

I used to spend long summer afternoons beside the river with my friend Sheila.  We would wander down the train tracks behind her house all the way down to the train bridge and then follow some beaten dirt paths to our little spot that we liked to swim by.  We would jump in at one point, and let the current carry us down a little way and then we would either run ourselves up on some shallow, rocky part of the river or paddle off to the side.  Inevitably, we would get out, run back up and let it carry us right back down again. Sometimes we used floaties and other times we would just jump in and let the water swirl around our bodies and effortlessly carry us downstream. Sometimes we would see if we could swim against the current and we would kick and paddle our arms as hard as we could but we always, and quite shortly, lost that battle to the incessant, powerful pull of the river. We were careful to stay in certain areas since we would often be fore-warned of the danger of under-currents that could pull us under.

I’ve always had this metaphor stuck in my head about the life of a Christian and here it is: we are all swimmers in a river.  The river is life and it’s current is the lures and temptation of the world. Like the current of a river can pull and push at us, so the world around us, the devil, and our own flesh seek to pull and push us into all kinds of evil. The pressure it creates entices all of us to just give up and go with the flow. Do not forget that the Devil is always trying to make it look better to give up fighting and  just go with it. The life of a Christian demands that we swim against the current while the world effortlessly floats on by us. The river never stops flowing and it never changes it’s flow of direction, when we choose a moment to give up fighting the current, we lose that ground. Life doesn’t give us second chances and we cannot go back in time,  we don’t get any do-overs. If you sin, that sin happened and its irrevocable. When we give up swimming it means we stop fighting our sin, it means we give in to temptation and we take the easy way out.

God is stronger

Fighting sin is indeed tiresome and exhausting at times just like           constantly trying to swim against the current would be tiresome and  exhausting. This is where something completely nonsensical steps in.  God’s grace. Life may not give second chances but God does. He forgives  us as often as we come to him in repentance. Whenever the world just looks too lovely to let it pass us by and we stop swimming and start floating, when we give up and we lose ground God gives us grace. I believe that God is that shallow part in the river that gives us time to consider what we are doing and what we have done. His grace keeps us safe even in our lack of judgement. Through prayers of fellow Christians and ofcourse, His grace, we may grab hold of a branch for awhile. He hangs onto us  so we don’t go plummeting over a waterfall to our death and destruction.  His grace allows us to realize what we’re doing or what we’ve done and when we repent it is like God plucks us out of the river and puts us back upstream where we were, he strengthens and renews us and we get to try again. That is God’s grace in our daily life.

I know life as a Christian doesn’t make sense in the eyes of the world the same way it wouldn’t make sense for any of us to jump in the river and spend the next hour furiously paddling upstream, seemingly getting nowhere, while people float by on rafts and laugh at us but it’s the life we’re called to live.  God’s grace doesn’t make sense to us either all the time but without it we would foolishly and ignorantly spend our lives floating downstream instead of doing what we ought to do with joy.  Don’t you think that if you swam upstream every day for an hour you would get stronger and better at it? Just some food for thought.

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”    – 1 Timothy 6: 11-12

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