Rivers can be beautiful things. They can be peaceful and calmly flowing or they can rage in a terrifying and uncontrollable manner. The Spirit of God is often compared with water; if the Spirit is within you, flooding you with a river of God’s grace, what type of river are you showing the world? I believe we must master elements of both the peaceful and rushing waters so that we can most appropriately pour the Spirit of God into the lives of others. We must be sensitive to the needs around us, and securely plugged into the overflowing and living water of Jesus to effectively minister to those in need.
When people encounter us they should feel a sense of peace, much like they would when sitting on the banks of a gently flowing river on a cool day. There should be a serenity about us that is immediately transferrable to those who are near. As followers of Jesus, we know exactly who we are and are intimately familiar with our mission. We don’t need to be concerned with finding our purpose in life, because we already know it. We don’t have to be concerned with the direction our life will flow, because we already know that as well. Armed with that knowledge, we can be confident in any situation. Confidence is calming not only for ourselves but for those around us as well. In addition to confidence, we should exude a sense of peace. We follow the One who is called the Prince of Peace; as a result, we should have a great internal peace that we can share with others.
Our love for others must also flow much like a raging river. Love should rush uncontrollably from us into everyone with whom we have contact. No one should be able to stand next to us without being swept away by love. I imagine this is what it was like to stand next to Jesus. When people meet us, they should sense something different and be overwhelmed by our genuine love for them. I know this may sound strange at first. How does one show love to a total stranger? It’s easier than you might think. Picture that person as if Jesus was standing right next to them. Treat them as if you have no other place to be and that you have all the time in the world to talk to them. Genuinely listen to everything they have to say. Don’t simply hear them, really listen and respond in a way that lets them know you understand what they are saying.
Much like a river, we have the capacity to flow both gently and to rage uncontrollably. Both of these aspects of a river, and of the Spirit, should reside within us; they are the hallmarks of a Christian. There will be times when the love of God so overwhelms us that we cannot help but burst with the energy of a rushing river. At other times we may be so consumed with peace that we are as tranquil as a babbling brook. We are responsible to transfer both of these states to those among us who are in need. Some will need to have the love of Jesus violently wash over them, cleansing them, and renewing them; let the Spirit rush out of you and into their lives. Others though can bear no more and simply need God’s peace to soothe them; gently breathe the Spirit within you into their lives.
Do you have the capacity to rage uncontrollably with the love of God, while at other times to gently speak peace into the life of another? The Spirit of God provides us with the power of both peace and force. We must learn how to use His power and to discern the proper usage given the situation we are in. With work and practice, we can learn to fully utilize the power He has entrusted to us. As the old song says, it’s great to have “peace like a river”; just don’t forget to also cut loose and rage like a roaring, turbulent river. To be most effective, we must master the dichotomy of a forceful peace. This is the essence of God; He is an unrelenting, ever flowing, river of love.