Reflecting on the River
Good morning from the air! I am currently on my way back to Nicaragua from a short conference in San Antonio, Texas. If you are not familiar with San Antonio, it is home to the Riverwalk, a windy river that they have turned into a beautiful spot to walk, eat and generally enjoy yourself. I had heard of the Riverwalk before, but never had the chance to visit San Antonio and experience it in person until now. Below I have included a picture of one of many water features next to the river to give you a small glimpse of the beauty of the Riverwalk, but it does not do it justice. I found my time “down by the river” incredibly enjoyable and a great reminder of how the name of this blog came about. Life is found in the river, which is why I want to take a quick look at it today.
When I say life is found in the river, it probably brings up many mental images. For me, I see a raging river and myself standing on a perfectly good riverbank enjoying the view, but happy that I am not in the middle of it. For many years, my life more or less reflected that image. I saw people doing incredible things to impact the world and was happy to watch them from the sidelines. This is not to say that I wouldn’t occasionally step in to the river by assisting in a ministry that seemed safe to me or that I wouldn’t toss in a life preserver or reach out a branch in the form of a small donation or helping hand. I was typically very willing to take these steps as long as it didn’t mean jumping into the river that at times I didn’t even know God was calling me to. I mean that in no way to minimize the importance of the ministries with whom I was working or the small steps I took to assist those who were in need. In fact, for many people, those are the rivers to which they are called. The difference was and is Nicaragua was the river to which God was calling me and, other than going on short-term mission trips, I was completely against stepping into that one.
Luke, one of the Bible writers, records these words of Jesus- “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses the life for me will save it.” (Luke 9:24, NIV 1984) A moment before Jesus said these words he called those who wanted to be associated with him to actually follow him. As you can see by the words that followed, that was not necessarily an easy task. I believe this is because following Jesus often leads us right into the river and, many times, a river we didn’t even picture entering. In this way, following Jesus means dying to ourselves and allowing him to guide our lives. Fourteen months ago, I experienced this as I moved to Nicaragua. Over the past fourteen months, however, I have also experienced the promise in those words. I have found that the death of my plans has led to the life found through His. I have found a life like none other in the river. Are there rapids? Yes. Do I want to get out sometimes? Absolutely. In the end though, the real life I have found in the midst of the river has far outweighed the challenges.
I believe this life is available to everyone reading this. I also believe the world is in desperate need of people who are willing to get into the river. Will you?
– James Belt