Swimming Against the Current

Water is so versatile. It can sit, as still and clear as glass in a sleepy pond. It can rush, violently and chaotically over a waterfall. An ocean will overwhelm you with its vastness, and a stream will calm with its trickle. It can also flow steadily and relentlessly in a river.

I once heard someone compare the spiritual life to a river. We are in the middle, they said, and our goal is to get upstream towards a deeper relationship with God.

We are left with three options. The first is to actively swim with the current. This option is obviously easy, but we very quickly will find ourselves farther from God. The next option is much, much more difficult, we swim upstream, against the current. If we choose this option, we will inevitably be hit by debris that is being swept along by the current, our strength will fade, and we may feel as though we are not making much progress.

When we compare the two options it is clear that one looks much more attractive than the other. Now, let me be clear, I am talking about maintaining a relationship with God, not earning salvation.

The Bible is very clear salvation is a free gift of God, not something that any amount of good works can earn us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

So, while we cannot earn our salvation, it is clear that the depth of our relationship with God is impacted by the choices that we make. We are either being conformed to the world around us or we are being transformed by the renewing of our mind in Christ Jesus. (Romans 12:2)

Our choices either bring us closer to God or drive us further from him.

So far, I only talked about two options, but there is a third. The third option is sneaky and dangerous, and it often takes us farther than we ever intended.

We drift. We just simply do nothing.

This option is by far the easiest because it requires the least amount of effort on our part. We aren’t actively running towards God, but we haven’t decided to sprint the other way either. The problem is, we are still moving.

The current is sweeping us away, sometimes quickly, sometimes so slowly we do not even realize we have moved.

My fear is that far too many people are content to just drift.

Drifting in the current may seem like an innocent enough option, but there is no such thing as inaction when it comes to the spiritual life. We will always either increase in the depth and quality of our relationship with God, or we will decrease. We are either moving closer to God or further away. There is no in-between.

Will you join me in my commitment to swimming against the current? Let’s unashamedly live for Jesus. Let’s happily live different from the current of the culture around us.

Let’s be messengers of truth and neighbors of love.

Let’s swim against the current and not just simply allow it to drag us along.

I Make The Pancakes

One bright Sunday morning in October of 2018 I woke up and was feeling much more awake than I normally do on any given morning. I bounced out to the kitchen, started the coffee, and decided to do something I had only done a handful of times in my life.

I made pancakes.

They were only just alright. (But when are pancakes actually “bad” anyway?)

The next Sunday morning rolled around, and my wife came out to the kitchen and laughed, “you’re making pancakes again? OK!”

It was on the third Sunday in a row at the breakfast table that I boldly proclaimed, “I have decided that I will make pancakes each and every Sunday henceforth.” (Yes, I really did say “henceforth.”)

My wife and friends gave me an exaggerated “oookkk” and called me goofy.

But you know what? I have faithfully made pancakes each and every Sunday since.

You may be wondering why I am writing about making pancakes and my silly Sunday morning routines. The reason is that in this situation, as with every other situation in life, I am learning a lesson.

The lesson is, growth takes time, but it is very rewarding.

You see, when I first started out I couldn’t quite get the right consistency in the batter. The hotcakes were either too thin and floppy or too thick and dry. I also was a novice in the flipping department. And, worst of all, I was impatient and either turned the heat too high or flipped prematurely before the first side was even fully cooked.

Thanks to my wife and friends for eating those inferior pancakes without complaining.

This last Sunday I was able to make the best batch of pancakes that I have ever made…and I hope that next week will only be better.

You see, growth is a process. There are bumps and bruises along the way. You don’t start off perfect (or even close to it) but eventually, with time, you are able to grow. The goal is to be better than you were yesterday. And when it comes to our relationship with Jesus, our goal should always be to be closer to Him tomorrow than we were today.

My love for Jesus is stronger today than it was five years ago, and I pray that five years from now I will love Him even more.

2 Peter 3:18 says to “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

Hebrews 6 encourages us to leave the “elementary” things and move on towards maturity in Christ. And Hebrews 5 warns against staying in the childish immature stage of spiritual development.

We need to grow spiritually.

While it does take time to grow and it certainly is a process, (it’s called Sanctification) we need to realize that we do have a part in the process. In Luke 17 the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith. And I suggest that we do the same.

We cannot expect to grow spiritually if the only time that we talk about Jesus is on a Sunday morning. We cannot expect to increase our prayer life if the only time we pray is before a meal. And we cannot expect to know God better if our exposure to the Bible is only from the “verse of the day.”

I have heard the following statement before from many sources, so I will simply repeat it here…

We must have three daily conversations:

  • We must talk to God (prayer)
  • We must let God talk to us (read our Bible)
  • We must talk about God (sharing the Gospel)

We cannot expect to grow deeper in our faith if we fail to practice it. Just like I could not expect to make good pancakes if I didn’t practice,  17 weeks in a row might I add. (And counting!)

So, friends, I encourage you, just as I am encouraging myself. To make an extra effort this year to be more consistent in your walk with Jesus.

Say no to spiritual immaturity.

Grow closer to Him.