The River and the Dam

I was out enjoying a walk while visiting in my hometown one day and came upon a bridge that had been newly constructed over the river. It was a bridge for walkers, bikers, and horseback riders only--perfect for lingering on and watching "old man river just keep rolliní along." As I gazed down at the water I noticed that quite a pile of debris had collected where a log had fallen across the waterway. Wedged there with it were smaller tree trunks, branches, twigs, and various items that could be listed in the dictionary to define flotsam and jetsam. I even spotted an old boot peeking out of the jumble. In fact, this pile looked well on its way to becoming a full-fledged dam.

Later God used the memory of that scene to teach me the following:

God's love, mercy, and grace are like a river flowing into the lives of our loved ones. However, the river has been dammed by logs, sticks and debris--in other words, sin. Maybe there are branches of impatience and selfishness jammed there and twigs of hurtful ways and disparaging remarks. Our inclination is to tug at the branches and pull at the twigs: "Stop being so sharp with me!" we say; "You only think about yourself. Why donít you try to think about others?" What we don't see, however, is that the twigs and branches are often attached to logs of hurt or anguish and that makes our tugging and pulling--our admonishing and rebuking--futile. Not only that, but the logs themselves are jammed this way and that, so that our efforts to dislodge the dam only serve to wedge the debris even tighter.

God often has a different role for us to play in the lives of our loved ones. Rather than wading in and trying to deal with the sins of another person with our own wisdom, He asks us to sit still on the riverbank, praying and waiting and loving. Then He, who sees the dam from above, can do the job of removing the debris. He knows which twigs are connected to which branches are connected to which logs. He knows which log has to remain for a season while He lifts the one lying on it. His procedure may appear slower than ours, but it is so much more efficient and effective.

A friend, upon hearing this, was moved by the Spirit to apply it to herself and the way she dealt with her own "debris." Following her lead, I, too, began noticing how often I wade in and attempt to rid myself of a sin sticking up out of my own life. Back to the riverbank of prayer, stillness and hopeful waiting I now try to go. From that vantage point I have often been surprised as He reached in for a branch or log I could not even see deep within. Now I have a better understanding of Isaiah 55:8ó

His ways are not our ways, they are HIGHER.


"Learn to move man, through God, by prayer alone."

Hudson Taylor