My view every morning for almost the last eight weeks has been the banks of Cane River in Natchitoches, Louisiana (If you can’t pronounce the city name, don’t feel bad, neither can anybody else from out of state). Anyway, I look at the river, I’ve fallen in it, I’ve fished in it, I’ve paddled kayaks in it, and taken speed boat rides in it. I’ve crossed its bridges, and watched concerts on its banks.
Here’s the thing: It’s not a river at all.
Looking at it, you might swear otherwise. When the wind blows, the surface water looks like there’s actually a current. Plus it is long and thin, the way you expect a river to be.
But what we call Cane River is really just a lake. About 184 years ago, it used to be part of the Red River, until the river changed its course, and abandoned this 32 mile stretch of its old self. But bear with me, there’s a point to this gee-whiz commentary. You see, while Cane River was a real river, it had an inflow from above, and an outflow downstream. It was coming from somewhere and going somewhere 24/7. It was part of a continuum, complete with river commerce, and boat traffic of all kinds.
But it’s been sitting still now for nearly two centuries. The only boat traffic is recreational.
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38). Believers in Christ don’t have a lake within them. They have rivers. That means movement, current, an inflow of the Holy Spirit and an outflow of ministry and good works, of life giving words, and heavenly traffic.
I don’t want to be the guy who remembers when, long ago, I used to have a river flowing, but these days, I’ve got a lake. That usually happens when you keep learning things about God, but the things you learn aren’t for the sake of enriching your relationship with Him anymore. And whatever relationship with Him you’re currently holding onto becomes self-contained, never seeming to flow forward to reach that next person. If there’s water traffic, it’s never anything larger or more serious than a jet ski.
The secret is out. We’re supposed to have rivers. People downstream are waiting for what we have. And if a river doesn’t flow, that might be the cruelest joke of all.