Kayaking in the Cold
Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, “rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 (NIV)
One spring after a particularly bitter winter, the melting river ice had nowhere to go, so the water overflowed and sat on top of still-frozen farmland nearby. Banks of snow turned into blocks of ice before melting into messy mud.
They also melted into strange new high waters that tempted kayakers out before the weather was warm. Where I lived, Little Catfish Creek was so high it made surprising lakes around the city. We jumped at the chance to float over parks and between tall trees. We paddled under highways and over railroad tracks. To paraphrase the philosopher Heraclitus, you can never step in the same river twice. Those weird river conditions might never occur in the same way again. We had to experience them.
Environmental experts write wisely about the problems of human attempts to restrain our rivers. That spring, I witnessed it along the banks of the Mississippi, but just for the record, the Bible said it all first. The river wants to flow where it wants to flow, usually wider and more generous in its scope than we human beings are comfortable with.
God’s grace and mercy are like that. Though we try to rein it all in with our rules, our punishments, and our walls, grace wants to go where it wants to go. Mercy wants to flow widely.
Let it flow freely through me, God, let the river of grace flow wide and through me. Amen.
Lillian Daniel serves as Conference Minister with the Michigan Conference UCC. She is the author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To and When “Spiritual But Not Religious” Is Not Enough.