On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
- John 7:37-39
“Let me paraphrase verse 38: ‘From the believer’s inner life there will be a reservoir of enormous, immeasurable power. It will gush forth. It will pour out like a torrential river that causes rapids, waterfalls, and endless movement to the ocean.’ That’s the idea. It’s not a picture of some blasé, passive force. The Spirit of God is the dynamic of life. Like air, the Spirit may be invisible – but never let us be misled with equating invisible with impotent. This Spirit is vital to life.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life
Rev. Swindoll’s paraphrase of John 7:38 ends with an ‘endless movement to the ocean.’
With the recent pummeling of Hurricane Dorian onto the Bahamas, it may have seemed, as the post titled suggests, an endless movement ‘of’ the ocean. Let us keep those still in danger and in pain in our prayers. It will take some time before the Bahamas are back on their feet.
Yet, Jesus used a reference to a river and so did Rev. Swindoll. In desert climates and sometimes in the plains of the US, rivers can seemingly stop flowing. In some cases, there is no water flow at all. In other cases, the small amount of water flow is beneath the surface of the ground.
When we look at a waterfall, especially in a large river with constant flow, we feel the power that Rev. Swindoll suggests.
The Rhein Falls, pictured above, is the largest plains falls in Europe. The Rhein River is possibly the most powerful of rivers in Europe and to see the Rhein Falls is an extremely humbling experience. The tremendous power of the Rhein does not fall very far, but the ground vibrates beneath your feet. Note the Swiss flag. The area around the falls is one of the few locations along the river where Switzerland is on both sides of the Rhein River.
I could have used pictures of Yoho Falls from Canada, Niagara Falls between Canada and the US, Palouse Falls in Washington state or Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Oddly, I cannot find pictures of other falls that I have photographed, like both Yellowstone Falls and Laurel Falls in the Smokies. I like taking pictures of waterfalls. I think that it is the raw power that you can feel as you watch them.
Do you feel that kind of power within you, the power of a continuously flowing large waterfall? I know that at first, when I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I was simply so Joyful to be a child of God that there was little thought given to the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, other than spiritual understanding as I read Scripture. Since I did not cultivate my relationship with Jesus beyond the basic prayer, Bible study, and church going early on, my faith grew, but slowly.
Struggles and suffering provide opportunities to grow stronger in faith, if we let them. When the storm stories start to appear from the Bahamas, who will praise Jesus and who will determine, of their own will, that a loving God could simply not let that happen? C. S. Lewis talked about suffering and the pain of suffering being something of future projecting or past remembrance. For the exact present moment, we can soldier through, and this precise moment isn’t THAT bad. Lewis probably said it better. Yet, once the storm is behind us, some of us do not praise God for delivering us. They curse God for letting it happen. Understand this. When God created the earth, everything was good. When Adam and Eve sinned, the ground became cursed. From a spiritual sense, the hurricane was not God’s fault. Like everything that sinful man does, it puts a small piece of God’s perfect creation out of perfect balance – and calamity is the result.
But now, in recent years, I have strengthened my relationship with Jesus, taking far too long in my opinion – but maybe just right in God’s timeline. I have seen, in little ways, how the power of the Holy Spirit is real and can work in our lives. I am not ready to jump up and down in a Pentecostal church, but I am getting to know the Holy Spirit and recognize His presence.
When we rely fully in God, we can obtain unimaginable power to perform great works that glorify God. But sometimes the greatest work is the small thing that no one notices.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.