Lenten Reader | Day 21

The Spirit

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 7:37-39
When I read this Scripture, I thought of the adventures that I experienced in the 1980's with my two sons in the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area) located in northern Minnesota. We spent a week camping in the wilderness, paddling our canoes from lake to lake, portaging several miles of trails, fishing, cooking, and telling stories around the campfire. In our tents we fell asleep listening to the calling of the loons from across the lake, not to be outdone by the howling of the wolves from far away.  
How does this connect with the passage from John 7:37-39? I feel close to God when I'm in the out of doors – seeing, hearing, and feeling what He has created. I sense the Spirit of God hovering over the waters as I paddle my canoe. As I'm paddling downstream, life is good with very few problems as the fruits of the Spirit are flowing within me. My health is good, and I live comfortably without financial worries. I have a wonderful marriage, and I'm surrounded by beautiful family and friends. God has treated me well as long as I'm going downstream and staying on course. Paddling upstream, however, is more difficult and may put a strain on my relationship with God as I struggle with life's challenges. There are times when the river of living water narrows to a small stream, further challenging my faith. Or even worse, the living water may dry up, creating in me a thirst for a renewed spirit. That's when I go to Jesus and drink so that the rivers of living water will flow within me again.  
Portaging a canoe along the trail strewn with roots and rocks may be a heavy burden, but I know that walking in faith is a step-by-step process that will gradually get me where I'm going if I keep at it. I must learn to walk in the Holy Spirit to experience God's fullness. This journey is about developing a personal relationship with Jesus. It's not about having perfect attendance in Sunday School or memorizing Bible scriptures, but more importantly it is about filling my heart and soul with His Spirit.  
Jim Welch