Living Rivers – Look, See, Pray

Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California

My most memorable memories? Certain special people- and a few special places. Yosemite National Park is stunning. I’d only seen the fabulous monochrome photographs by Ansel Adams. Then, due to some of the very special people, Juliet and I had the privilege of driving from Los Angeles up to Yosemite… with a few days to explore the half-tamed wilderness. Oh, it’s safe enough, most of the time… and if you are sensible about bears, flooding rivers, and (last but not least) pesky mosquitoes.

We didn’t see any bears. Sigh. We- well, I- had a run in with those needle nosed mozzies (cost me two legfuls of blood and a LOT of itching). Two minutes of shorts-wearing carelessness by the Merced River cost me dear!

Further upstream the river was wilder, steeper, and pest free. I took pictures (wild lupins, a coyote, mountains and a waterfall or three) thus imprinting memories forever on my brain. To this day, 20-ish years later, I can summon the memories any time I wish to mull over the wonder of the world and the majesty of the Creator. They are as sharp and fresh as I could hope for. Stunning beauty, on a vast scale, full of wondrous creatures and glorious life.

Rivers in Yosemite are both deadly and delightful. In the spring snow-melt the raging waters could whisk you away in a second. A couple of miles downstream, the broader valley meanders are calm, clear, and deep. The trail-walker must pay attention to the rivers- it really can be life or death. To drink may be safe, or perilous. Choose wisely. The rivers are “at your own risk.”

Jesus spoke of rivers, of streams in the wilderness, and they became symbols for the powerful truth of God’s amazing grace. Just as the Merced River can be graceful and quiet, or be a raging torrent, we approach Jesus with a deep thirst and a certain trepidation. If Jesus truly IS the holy Son of God… then dare I approach?

He is- and I can. so can we all if we meet the conditions. John’s Gospel sets out the basis: “Anyone who believes in Him.” Come, thirsty for life as you are, and drink. Better yet, such an approach of trust and obedience is rewarded: the “river of Life,” living water, becomes an inner reality! Life will flow from us like a river into a wilderness, bringing the loving Presence of Christ everywhere we may go.

John 7:38 (NLT)
Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’

It’s not just a “river of Life” for me. It’s the river of Christ’s Love flowing through and from me to others. A wilderness without water becomes dry and dead- a desert. A world without Living Water suffers the same fate. Being part of the “Living River” is purpose for this lifetime and assured hope for eternity- for me and all those who get “splashed” as I pass by: as Jesus comes close and invites us to come and swim safely in living water. That’ll make some marvellous memories.


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