So, Tracey and the girls are camping for a few days and Tracey has found a fantastic campsite which is next to a river.
The owners have done a great job of making several points along the river front where people who want to swim can safely get in and out. There are also some wooden platforms to make it easy to get in and out of boats as well. My girls (the children that is, not Tracey) were the most excited about the rope swings that you can swing out over the river and then let go and jump/fall in. That is to say that the girls were the most excited about them until they got close and then they became nervous about using them.
In the end, our eldest swung out and you can just see the top of her head disappearing under the water in the picture.
Her first words after resurfacing were,
‘Awesome, I want to do that again’.
She had dithered about for ages but then she realized what fun the swing could be.
The river contained children splashing, swimming, boating and generally having lots of fun and it reminded me of Ezekiel’s vision of a river flowing from the temple. In the vision, the water got deeper the further from the temple it went and where it flowed, it brought life. The river would purify the dead sea and it would be full of fish and trees would grow along its shores where it flowed.
I belive that the river symbolizes two things.
1. Our salvation
People went to the temple to be made right with God and Ezekiel saw a day when instead of us having to go to a building for forgiveness that God’s forgiveness and salvation would flow out into the world. The death and resurrection of Jesus have made this a reality and now we are offered forgiveness and new life through Jesus.
2. The Holy Spirit (God’s presence living in us)
Jesus linked this living water with the Holy Spirit who was to be given to believers after Jesus went back to heaven (John 7.37-39). He made this link at the feast of Tabernacles during which water was poured down the temple steps to symbolize Ezekiel’s vision. Jesus promises that The Holy Spirit will fill every believer and from Ezekiel’s vision we know that the Spirit in us will produce new life and fruit.
God can turn the desert wasteland of a life into something that is flourishing.
As I think back on the children splashing, swimming, boating and generally having lots of fun it occurs to me that this is what the salvation and presence of the Holy Spirit should be like. These children were living life in all it’s fullness and they were enjoying the gift of the river.
If you are a Christian, what is your faith like? Does it feel like a river or a desert?
You see, Jesus promised a river and life and I hope that we are experiencing what he is offering.
Lots of children were enjoying the river, but all the adults were nice and dry, either watching on the riverbank or in boats.
Jesus said that unless we become like children then we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18.2-4).
Perhaps it’s time for us to let go of the things we are hanging onto and for us to embrace and enjoy the river of life that God is offering to us.