Rocks In the River

A group of us women gathered for a retreat, and as He is fond of doing, the Lord surrounded us — literally — with the words and images and spiritual realities of what He longed to share with us. In this case, His subject was His living waters. As I prepared to lead the group studies there I knew we would focus on John Chapters 4 and 7, where Jesus speaks of streams of living waters that would flow into and go forth from those who drink of him — but the woman who booked the location for our retreat did not!  We landed in a cabin called Rio Casa — River House, at Tres Rios campground — three rivers — so named because the camp is bordered on three sides by three different rivers. One of those rivers flowed behind our cabin, just below the little hill we were perched on.

We had a glorious time there, in which we studied about the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives, exploring what life is meant to look like when one is a child of God that drinks from His Spirit. In the Lord’s power and faithfulness we all experienced renewal and healing, especially from weariness and wounds of the heart and spirit. We were thoroughly refreshed there, and some would say forever changed.

As we gathered on our final morning to worship the Lord, each of the women were radiant and lovely, full of new hope in the Lord’s love and goodness. As we went around the room and shared our “take-aways,” I rejoice in their new joy, yet knew from many retreat experiences what it would be like to return home and step back into the very things they had needed renewal from. “Lord,” I prayed, “do not let the tiniest part of their time with you be robbed, and please establish them firmly in what you have given them hope in.”

The Holy Spirit then drew us outside for our last half hour together, in view and earshot of the river. The Lord had us close our eyes and just listen. Only one sound broke the peaceful quiet of the morning — the lively waters below us. While the flowing waters were unrippled and silent both upstream and downstream from our cabin, a row of large rocks in the river there forced the water to bubble up and around and over, producing the little rapids and their happy notes. After we listened awhile, soaking up that soothing, playful sound, the Lord said,

“Notice, daughters, that it is the rocks that cause the river to make its music. Without the rocks there would be no sound.”    !!!!!!

We opened our eyes and smiled at each other, thoughts racing and playing across our faces, as what He said sunk in. The bubbly lifesounds we were enjoying were only produced as the water flowed around the rocks, which are OBSTACLES to the flow of the water. We quickly and collectively got the “Aha!” moment of understanding that these rocks represented our troubles, wounds, afflictions, weaknesses or circumstances. The fact that the water only produces its music as it washes over those obstacles, is a metaphor worth pondering. May the smiling Spirit who pointed it out to us at the river reveal its meaning in your life.

As for us, we returned home with fresh streams of living water in us, making our music of joy and thanksgiving to the Lord for the life He brings to flow over and around the rocks in our lives!

A Verb Looking For Its Object

In preparing for my most recent Women’s Retreat, the Holy Spirit taught me something new about surrender. Our normal concept of surrender to God is to give everything up, or lay everything down, abandoning ourselves, yielding entirely to Him — and this is certainly true. “But you don’t finish the sentence,” the Holy Spirit said to me…don’t say, ‘I surrender,’ say ‘I surrender to your love!'”

Yet another occasion to love being taught by the Spirit of Christ….He shows me things and connects things I would never have come up with intellectually or theologically.

Surrender is a relational transaction, always something or someone. Dictionary.com says of the verb surrender that it is used with an object, and means:

  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another.
  2. to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.: He surrendered himself to a life of hardship.
  3. to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

For a Christian, the true object of our surrender is the Person who is the only truly good being, the unfailing lover, the one who died to give us real life. At a women's retreat.At that women’s retreat in the Michigan woods I asked each woman to fill in her blank at the end of the sentance, “I surrender to ________.”  A sampling of the answers:

  • I surrender to His goodness
  • I surrender to His rest
  • I surrender to His faithfulness
  • I surrender to His peace
  • I surrender to His grace

I invite you to fill in your own blank, and surrender anew to the Lord who asks you to yield all of your life and being to Him, and gives so much more in exchange!

Bless you in knowing your God,

Tonia