Life is like a river.
At the top of the river sits a beautiful and perfect pool of water that is crystal clear. Drinking from that water renews and refreshes anyone who drinks. The aquatic life that swim and live in that water live forever and are continuously happy.
Out of that pool flows a waterfall that pours into the river. The water comes out of the pool clear and filled with life, but quickly the water is joined by other streams. Streams that are muddy and contaminated. The farther down the river you go, the muddier and rockier the water becomes.
And finally, at the bottom of this river is another waterfall. By this point though, the water is dark and gross. No one can see beyond the falls from the river.
The fish live in the middle of that river. They are born into a place where the scum-filled water chokes them and clouds their vision. The current pulls them farther downstream, only adding to the filth and the strength of the current. Yet streams of clear refreshing water still make their way down.
Some fish sense this clear and refreshing stream and move toward it. It’s not easy. It’s initially difficult because of the other fish riding the current and flailing about. Then navigating rocks and strong currents is tough. As they get farther upstream though, the current gets weaker, and the fish continues gaining in strength to swim upstream. And more importantly, the farther they get upstream, the more of that crystal clear water refreshes and strengthens them.
This, is a picture of the Now and the Not Yet of God’s Kingdom.
Now, the river is muddy and dangerous. Soon enough though, the Great Fish & Game Officer will block the muddy streams and dam the bottom waterfall, turning the entire river into one beautiful and crystal clear pool. Perfect and refreshing forever.
But even now, there are streams of refreshing. The Kingdom is here and available, you just might have to work for it. The fish can’t climb up the waterfall. There’s nothing he can do to get into that pool on his own, yet much of what’s there, he can experience even now.
“Grace isn’t opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning.” Dallas Willard
When others see the fish that is refreshed and swims with ease, they’ll follow. That’s when they begin to sense the streams of refreshing too.
Swim hard, my friends. Swim strong.