Personal Growth
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Not a River You Can Just Wade In

Wisdom is less like a deep ocean and more like the force of a river. The power of the river is in its ability to adapt to its environment, change its course when necessary, and yet find its way towards its destiny. – Erwin McManus

I read these words recently in a book titled The Way of the Warrior. I was immediately taken back a couple of summers ago when we took a trip out to Colorado. The quote evoked a very specific memory I had of a river we stayed near for a night. There are few places in that area of the country that don’t romance the soul. I remember taking the kids down to the rocky bank and deciding to take a swim. The river had some rapids visible upriver and downriver, but the spot we were at appeared deep enough and slow enough to wade in, chill out, and relax a little.

After committing to just past knee deep I was suddenly taken aback and surprised by the sheer force of the river against my body. It was deceiving and unseen. As I inched forward to waist deep, I realized this was as far as I was going to venture. The current was simply dangerous, in a wild and beautiful way. Something to be respected and not toyed with.

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The Holy Spirit, the source of life defining wisdom, is not a deep, vast ocean to be be searched. He’s a driving force to be reckon with, undeterred as it relentlessly pushes towards the destination God has set. Like a strong river, the Spirit is on the move. Graceful, yet intentional. And in spite of all evil attempts to interrupt the flow, the Spirit meets each threat, presses into it, adapts, and counters to defy the enemy. That is the nature of our Lord and His Spirit. Undeterred. Resolved.

So My word that comes from My mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do. – Isaiah 55:11, HCSB

I am a little uncomfortable writing about the subject of the Holy Spirit, because I humbly grapple with understanding it and I want to be careful in how I relay my thoughts. After all… He is dangerous, in a wild and beautiful way. This is what I do know and scripture is clear on: We are urged and commanded by Christ to “seek” Him. As we seek, we are drawn further into the river until we “submit” to the current. And this takes courage on our part. It takes faith.

Where will the force of the Spirit take me? What is around the bend I cannot see? What unseen obstacle will I crash up against? Am I willing to submit to the force that is the Will of God? To be involved and totally submitted to what He is doing and where He is going?

There are times when I have picked my feet up and allowed the flow to take me forward. I have to confess I have also swam against the current, reached and grasped at low hanging branches, and tried to swim to slower moving water. But there is grace and Jesus is patient. He reminds me to trust and embrace both adventure and adversity, because the Lord is a God of process.

Maybe the best way to study the nature of the Holy Spirit is to read through the Book of Acts. From Chapter 2 forward, the forceful river of the Holy Spirit is unleashed and the various characters in the story are swept up in it. It is obvious that they do not know what is around the corner, but over and over they seek and submit. Paul gives specifics in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Comfortable and safe? No. But by embracing it, the Lord told Paul that through it all “My grace is enough for you…” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Here is the truth: Your purpose in life is defined in the center of the river. As followers of The Way, we are being called closer to the center, and deeper into His ever moving presence.

This entry was posted in: Personal Growth


J.J. is married to Christine Cole and they have been at Southern Hills since 2006. Their children are Gabby (9y/o) and Tyler (7 y/o). J.J. serves as a deacon at the church, and he is a police officer with the City of Carrollton.

1 Comment

  1. That’s a great article. Thank you for giving your time and talent. The river is very scary at times, but around the the bend can be calm for a little way to allow for rest. It just requires trust and patience.

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