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River of Life

It takes an adult Chinook Salmon 19 to 20 days to swim from Bonneville Dam all the way up to Idaho in average flow. That’s about 280 river miles that the fish are covering in just under 3 weeks. Given that the conditions are optimal, a salmon can cover about 14 river miles per day, but factors such as flow strength, river depth, and possible obstacles along the way will slow their progress dramatically. In most rivers there are plenty of obstacles in the fish’s way and if the river is high and the current extreme, it might only manage to cover 10, or even fewer miles per day. In an amazing feat of endurance, they ultimately overcome all of this to find their original banks where they were born. They initially travel up to 6000 miles of ocean before reaching the wide open mouth of their river. Then as they continue further upstream, it narrows and the currents, rapids and waterfalls increase, until they finally arrive at their original spawning waters. These waters provide the just right temperature and high amount of oxygen for the adults and eggs laid. These shallow waters also provide a protected environment, for the baby fry to grow to a size that can one day make the same journey back.

Our spiritual journey is much like this description of a river journey. If you are living for God in today’s world, you are swimming upstream. Everyone is going one direction, and you are swimming against the current. How can you get up each day and authentically live for Jesus at your high school, college, job, around your friends, in private, online, and everywhere in between?  The temptations to take the path of least resistance and just go with the flow can seem like the answer when you’re in the moment.

God’s word tells us our journey will not be easy. In some ways this may be how we are assured, that we are on the right path.  Our adversary will engage us more, when we seek the direction to pursue the promised land of our father. (1 Peter 5:8) ensures us that Satan is looking for those he has not yet devoured. He’s watching and will pursue those swimming upstream, because he knows he’s captured those who have stopped swimming and are drifting downstream. Pursuit for God continues our entire lives. Unfortunately, those who are wrapped up in Satan’s snares will not continue to swim but will wash downstream to their own selfish demise.

The path to God will narrow and require us to stay vigilant of ourselves and be intentional with the course we take. Much like a river …the further you go upstream, the more narrow the passage will become, and we are told that there will be few who find it. So we see the importance to keep this path of purity. David in Psalm 119 considers this:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. 12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. 16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Live According to God’s Word

When we commit to follow Jesus, we must realize we are on a different path from most of the world. A path that can be lonely at times. Friends, co-workers, and leaders may even let you down. When you feel lonely, seek friendship and place your faith wholly in Jesus. In his early years, David was often alone with God tending the sheep or fleeing from an enemy. Throughout Psalms, we see that David became a “man after God’s own heart” during those times.  It’s these times in our life that afford us opportunities for greater intimacy with God.

Hide His Word in Your Heart

Satan loves to speak words of compromise to get us to doubt God’s heart for us and God’s word. He tried it with Jesus in the wilderness, when he tempted Him (Luke 4:1-13), and Satan will continue to use this tactic in the life of the believer. The best way to defend this is the same way Jesus did in Luke 4, when He said back to Satan, “It is written.” We read and hide God’s word in our heart so that when temptation comes, we pull that word out and use it as a sword against Satan. (Ephesians 6:10-17) Set aside time to study a chapter a day. Then meditate on his word while driving to work, or during morning coffee, or any other window of opportunity you may have. This will help you consider and make application of his words into your own life and journey.

Seek Your Spiritual Family

Satan loves to attack us, when we are alone and discouraged. Get involved in your small group, a Bible study, a mentor or through accountability with another believer. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) says, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Find fellow believers who have your back and can help you stand in the current!

Although the journey may seem daunting at times God waits patiently for us to come to him, and assures us it is possible because he loves us and does not want to be lost for eternity. (1 Peter 3:9-1) Despite all things we endure in this life -He promises it will all be worth it!