“When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.” – Ezekiel 47:7-9
The river is a whole world: a perfect system of habitats to support a wealth of life, providing the environment for vivid interactions between all manner of organisms. Plants, animals and other living matter barely large enough to see on a microscope thrive within this unique ecosystem — it’s a phenomenal cornucopia of chemical and physical reactions with dramatic hierarchies of creatures, great and small, depending on intricately interlocking microhabitats of highly variable temperature and oxygenation. All of the lifeforms that depend on the river’s ecosystem to live must also be highly specialized, because the river is a lotic environment: a term referring to the nature of flowing water. Everything that lives within and around the river is customized to not merely live but actually thrive, in a setting of constant flux. A world of dizzying diversity and unsettling upheaval, the river is a dynamic and exciting place to be. We live in our own whirling, kaleidoscopic world: the blessing of God allows us to be in the world of the flesh, while being of a whole different place: the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the place that provides our sustenance, the attitudes and grand designs by which we live our lives. Undefeated, allowing for nothing negative, uniquely dynamic and exciting — the Kingdom is the environment that the Father made ready for us from the moment we were born. Just as the desert would be utterly alien to the lifecycle of a river-dweller, the world has nothing to teach us about the Kingdom that orchestrates our lives. In John 7, Jesus attends the Feast Of The Tabernacle against the advice of his friends and prophesies the coming of the Holy Spirit. He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” We can thrive in the river of the Spirit. Similarly, the fundamental objective of our lives, perfectly encapsulated in the Lord’s Prayer, taught to the disciples by Jesus in Matthew 6 — “on earth, as it is in Heaven” — is that we live as though we stand in the Kingdom of Heaven, not the world: there should be no difference in our outlook. What that means is that our whole spirituality, and therefore our mentality, is based upon where we choose to stand and how we choose to thrive. The very nature of Christ is, and always has been, about refreshment and renewal. Heaven is never arid or parched. No one living in the Kingdom is ever thirsty, and everything lives where the river flows: ‘lotic’, meaning flowing, actually comes from the Latin word meaning ‘washed’, which is oddly appropriate here, but there’s actually a word that perfectly describes what we’re talking about: ‘refocillate’ means to restore strength through refreshment. The trouble is, it’s an obscure word that not many people even know how to pronounce. You’ll have heard all about revival, though — probably with a capital ‘R’ — and the same spiritual principle applies. Revival isn’t just an evangelical event, it’s a community of people all living in the fullness of the river of God. In the Spirit, we live lives of abundance — but more than that, we live in renewal and restoration, meaning we’re not merely always full, but always being replenished. The difference is a significant one. We are refreshed in the Kingdom, revitalized and invigorated. We abide in the chaotic, joyful noise of constantly flowing water, the active, dynamic, energetic, ceaseless, unwearied presence of God: and everything lives where the river flows. Yes, we still live in the world, but we are a part of something entirely apart from that. Where all around us is arid and dry, we have water in the wilderness, as evoked in Psalms 107: “He turns a wilderness into pools of water, / And dry land into watersprings. / There He makes the hungry dwell, / That they may establish a city for a dwelling place, / And sow fields and plant vineyards, / That they may yield a fruitful harvest.” To live at an oasis in the middle of the desert is to occupy a position of enviable power and influence. Everyone and everything relies upon that access to life-giving water, even if they don’t fully understand it themselves. Once their spirit arrives in the presence of God, the dryness in their souls is overcome… and that may be the first time that they realize exactly how thirsty they have been all of their lives. The same is true for all of us. We will never be thirsty again with Christ as the source of our spirits and our lives, because His well never runs dry. In Christ, we are encouraged to expect great things, because all around us teems with optimism, positivity, joy and life everlasting. When we live life in the name of Jesus — literally, as Christians — Heaven pours out refreshment on all of us. We are refreshed forever by His presence. Just as the lotic environment of the river encourages a teeming abundance of life, so the flowing waters of the Spirit can encourage our own lives to blossom and flourish, and to intermingle with the lives of the Kingdom’s own little ecosystem — all of us, everywhere. This is our inheritance, to live where the river flows.
-Article by Ben
“Tuolumne River” by Jim Bahn licensed by CC 2.0