The River of Life.

June 30, 2007 at 11:57 am 5 comments

Rivers are full of natural life and illustrative of our Spiritual life. 

Yesterday I floated and fished two sections of the Yakima.  In the morning I floated the river north of Ellensburg for 5+miles, Linda picked me up, we had lunch and then I floated a section starting in the city, floating south for about 5 miles.  The fishing was much better in the upper section than the lower one, though not really worth talking about. 

What was fun was seeing all the life intimately connected with the river.  Trees grow best along rivers, the grass is greener all along it’s banks and the deer, elk, mountain sheep, cows and domestic goats and sheep all find food in it and around it.  Geese, ducks, grouse, chuckers and all kinds of smaller birds make the river their home.  I saw a family of ducks with 7 ducklings swimming along a bank and when they saw me they literally ran upstream.  It was fun to see.  I saw a small family of grouse with babies (any one know what baby grouse are called) no bigger than sparrows and geese with goslings no bigger than robins.

Then there is the life in the river.  Fish grow because there are bugs of all sorts that live on the bottom of the river and float up through the water as nymphs, pop out on top as emergers, get their wings and fly away.  Fly fishermen know these stages of bug life and try to match this life cycle of the bug in order to fool fish.  Dry fly fishing is the most fun, because as the bug gets wings and tries to fly, fish are feeding on the surface.  If you have matched the hatch well you can use your imitation to fool the fish and watch them take your bug.  That is a lot of fun.  But if you want to consistently catch fish you have to know about the nymphs that are under the water, because fish feed about 80% of the time underwater.  Life cycles of bugs teem in the river, fish know it and flyfishers who know it, catch them.

The Yakima River has a number of species of fish that swim its waters.  Rainbow and cutthroat trout, more than one kind of whitefish, and at various times a couple of species of salmon.  The Tribes are working to reintroduce salmon to the river and you often see them floating the river counting salmon for their studies.  I think Bruce Selleg’s first fish on a fly, from the Yakima was a big King Salmon. He almost fell in trying to land it.

The Yakima not only naturally supports life it is also what makes the Yakima Valley the worlds leading producer of apples and multiple other kinds of fruits and vegetables.  During the summer months the Yak is a big irrigation ditch sending millions upon millions of cubic feet of water every day to water the crops the world consumes.

Without the water from the Yakima River the valley is nothing more than a desert.  Life flows in and from the river.

Floating along yesterday I started singing songs about rivers and believe me there are a lot of them.  I could list them here but that would take too much space.  Can you think of any?  If you do put a comment on this post and I will put them all together in another posting. 

One that popped into my head was from the 60’s, when Christian songs other than hymns, were first being written.  We thought it was pretty cool back then as it had motions and participation I think might not fly today.  It went like this:  I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.  Makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.  Opens prison doors sets the captives free.  I’ve got a river of life flowing out of me.  There is more to the song, but as I sang the song and the words filled my brain, I wondered why I had never stopped to think about what it meant.  There is a river of life that flows, somehow, out of me, with the capacity to heal and set people who are in bondage free.  We would sing that song with great enthusiasm but I, at least, never thought about what it meant.

The song comes from these verses: Whoever believes in me, the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.  Knowing his readers would not understand what Jesus was saying,  John adds this explanation: By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed on Him would later receive.  Up to this time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:38-39) 

Rivers, streams and any other body of water or well were known to be life giving to anyone who heard what Jesus had to say.  In much the same way I described it earlier, rivers to those in Jesus day meant life, abundant, life giving and life sustaining.

In Matthew 10, Jesus gives Believers their marching orders: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy, drive out demons.  Freely you have been given, freely give. (v.8)

The writer of the river song I was singing yesterday put those two verses together because he rightly understood when we were given the Holy Spirit there would be a life giving river in us,  when allowed to flow out and on to those around us, some spectacular and amazing things would happen.  People would be healed, people would be set free from all kinds of bondage, and those thought most despicable in the culture would be washed clean and restored to their full life giving potential. 

If I understand at all what rivers are about and what a powerful force for life they are, I cannot accept the premise of many evangelicals that Jesus meant the Spirit was to be in us just for sustaining our salvation, comfort in time of trouble, assistance in acting and thinking appropriately and conviction when we are going the wrong way, as wonderful and good as those gifts of the Spirit are.

Rivers flow, they give life, they cannot be contained and if they are dammed up with no release point they get stagnant and the life goes out of them. The writer of the song got it correct.  The River of the Spirit is in us to flow out of us bringing healing and life to sick, addicted, lost, broken, hurting, outcast, dead people. 

Rivers are life giving, life sustaining and life changing.  By this Jesus meant the Spirit whom believers have NOW received.  I’ve, (you’ve) got a river of life flowing out of me (us).  It makes the lame to walk and the blind to see.  It opens prison doors and sets the captives free.  I’ve (We’ve) got a river of life flowing out of me (us).

If we understand about rivers we understand something really important about the Spirit. 

Do we get it?


Entry filed under: Belief, Charismatic, Christianity, Church, Faith, Fly-Fishing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Miracles, Northwest, Revelation, Supernatural, The Father, Thoughts, Travel.

Yakima River Memories Monday morning meanderings. Vol. 2

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jaclyn  |  February 1, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    The glorious majesty of our Lord can be so clearly revealed when the strength, wholeness of unity, and complex beauty of running water is peacefully absorbed. It can be dangerously overpowering, or soothingly refreashing. Our Lord loves to have us bask in His continued relationship with us and His creations of earth, as we are patient, fishing for our food. I found this blog looking to listen to the song, Peace Like a River. I often have pondered how we are all like a drop in the River of Life, flowing together toward His Heaven. What is your drop doing to bring others along to the source of life, healing and hope?

  • 2. Royal  |  July 1, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    When I spend a day on a river fishing it revives my soul and strips away all my worries. It allows me to connect with the natural world that God created for us and take in some of his unbelievable power. I have often thought of a river and how it flows to the sea as a life cycle and how enriching and life giving it is. I am glad that Greg has pointed out for everyone. By the way a couple songs about rivers are : Tennessee River and Two Tear Drops.

  • 3. Warren Scandrett  |  June 30, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    I don’t want to hinder the serious analogy you delineated so well but I was reminded of the preacher who delivered and anti-alcohol semon concluding with the statement, “we ought to get all the booze in this town and dump it in the river”.
    The song leader anounceed the closing song, “Shall we Gather at the River?”

  • 4. Doug Wright  |  June 30, 2007 at 12:56 pm

    scripture tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. The same Spirit of eternity has not changed regardless to how doctrine might interpret. Thanks for the view of the river contained in the blog.

  • 5. Andy Taylor  |  June 30, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Yo! Greg,
    Lots of great analogies about the ‘river’ in reference to the Spirit of God, the move of God, etc. Here’s my favorite: Ez. 47:9 – “….and everything will live wherever the river goes.” It’s true in the natural….and it is true in the spiritual. Oh, yeah, another good river song: Find Me in the River – Martin Smith – Delirious

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