Surrendering to the Flow

Kingdom of God, Prayer, Solitude, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Growth

Every so often when I am sitting in prayerful contemplation, an image captures my attention. Sometimes it is an actual object that I am physically looking at, like a cross on my desk or a bird in the sky or a tree branch blowing in the wind. Other times it is something I see in my mind’s eye.

And usually, as I reflect upon whatever it is, I can sense and receive what I understand to be thoughts, insights, and experiences from God himself.

These moments are not spooky and otherworldly. They occur naturally.

In these moments, I am not striving to “get a word from God.” I am simply choosing to be present to him. And as I am present to him, I seem to notice him more often.

God is everywhere. His presence fills the earth. And if we will simply slow down, turn aside, and notice, our entire day can be filled with unique interactions with him. Each and every day.

So one recent morning when I was in prayer, I was “sitting with Jesus” in a few moments of silence and stillness. And an image came to my mind.

I pictured a river. Not a huge river like the Mississippi. But also not a tiny creek. It was the kind of river you might find in a deep gorge in the middle of a national park somewhere. Perhaps 60-70 feet in width. I have rafted and canoed several times in similar locations.

The river in my imagination had a strong and steady flow. It was not in a rush. There were some twists and turns. Along its path were stones and boulders, some small, some massive. But the flow was continual and uninhibited. It was flowing with purpose.

For a few moments, I lingered in that scene. I listened to the sound of the water moving over the rocks. I felt its mist on my face.

And then this thought occurred to me. When you stand by a river, what captures your attention is not any particular droplet of water within the river. But it’s the river itself. Its movement and flow.

And as I was reflecting, I considered myself as a water droplet within the river. That’s what each of us are. Just a tiny, minuscule part of a much larger body of water moving in a singular direction.

God’s mission and movement upon the earth is like a river that is constantly flowing. The river’s flow does not originate with me or you or anyone else. It’s a river that has been flowing from the beginning of time itself, springing from God’s loving nature.

We cannot manufacture or engineer its flow. Nor can we control it, stop it, re-direct it, or manipulate it in any way. As water droplets, we are powerless to do so.

We can only simply choose to surrender and allow ourselves (our agendas, our wills, our desires) to be carried by its current.

As a tiny water droplet, I am not intended to stand out and be remembered or noticed. Those whose chief aim is to be remembered will be forgotten and dismayed.

Life is found in simply choosing to surrender and allowing oneself to be carried by the current of his mighty love. It’s a river that flows from one generation to the next, from one person to the next, until it reaches its ultimate destination.

 

(The painting is “Rapids on the Knife River” by Don Luce)

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Beatitudes, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Growth, Suffering

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

As modern Western Christians when we read the word “peace” in the Bible we build a fence around it. We shrink it down to size. We define it as “inner peace.” “Emotional peace.” “Spiritual peace.” “Peace of mind.” “Peace in my heart.”

Undoubtedly, Jesus gives us all of those things. But if that’s all we think of, we are limiting the biblical concept of peace in a way that is not warranted in Scripture and is not endorsed by Jesus.

In a world that is drunk on hatred and hostility, it is the kingdom of Jesus Christ that brings peace. Shalom. The prophets talked about it incessantly as a recurrent theme. Here’s just one familiar example.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Peace among hostile groups. Peace among the nations. World peace.

It’s the wish of dippy beauty queens. But it’s also the dream of the prophets.

A Few Takeaways from The Apprentice Gathering

Books, Church Leadership, Kingdom of God, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Growth

This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend The Apprentice Gathering at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. I arrived on Wednesday night and spent the next three days gleaning from some of the top leaders in the field of Christian spiritual formation.

I first heard about this event several months ago when I stumbled upon it while googling some info on Greg Boyd, who happened to be one of the speakers.

Greg is one of my absolute favorite modern theologians/pastors/authors. Since buying one of his books in Books-a-Million back in 2009, I have followed his work with great interest. He has had an immeasurable impact on my theology and the way I think about God. Possibly more than anyone else. It was a huge honor just to meet him and say “thanks” in person.