For thus says the L ORD : “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream… – Isaiah 66:12 (ESV)
The Pearl River looked spectacular. Looking out our hotel window at 1:00am, the neon lights danced on the shimmering ripples below, glimmering in a bright, colorful glow. To these newly arrived first time travelers to China, the view was inviting.
Then came sunrise.
Looking out the same window, at the same river, in the light of day, the reality of the river set in. The beautiful light show of six hours before now had been replaced with what looked like coffee.
With huge tree trunks floating in it.
Nearly six weeks before our arrival in China, and over 1000 miles upstream, the Sichuan province had been rocked with a magnitude 8.0 earthquake which shook much of the country (including Beijing, itself 1000 miles away from the epicenter. The area was still experiencing aftershocks while we were there.
And a lot of silt, earth and debris was flowing down the Pearl River, through Guangzhou and past our hotel on its way to the South China Sea.
There was something else we saw that was quite surprising. There were people swimming in this tree trunk ridden coffee water. Not just once. Every morning. They were undeterred by the poor state of the river. The obstacles and dirt weren’t getting in their way. This was their urban swimming hole. And nothing was going to keep them from it.
I wonder how many of us would remain that resolute in the face of obstacles and ick. When the Lord shines His light on the reality of the situation and the beauty we saw the night before turns to nastiness, do we run away? Do we become disillusioned and just leave? Do we find our peace and comfort gone?
I’ve done it. I’ve let situations – obstacles, other people, the thorn in my own side, difficulties – derail me. I’ve lost my peace and let others run over me. I have forgotten Who my solid rock and firm foundation truly is.
I know how it feels to lose one’s swimming hole.
But what we all need to remember when trouble comes is this: despite the debris, the junk, the floating tree trunks in the polluted water, we still need to jump in and swim. God has placed each of us where we are for a reason. What is that reason? I don’t know. That’s between you and God.
Not only are you where you are for a reason, you are there for a season. Don’t get too connected to your swimming hole. Get connected to God. Follow Jesus. Know that He is with you always. Know that your circumstances are not too hard for the Lord. Know, grow and hang tight to Christ. It may be ugly. But the victory is not up to you.
Shalom dear friends.