Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Mighty St. Lawrence River

A couple of years ago we stopped for a picnic at one of the Seaway parks on the St. Lawrence River in Ontario. The St. Lawrence inspires awe, draining as it does almost a quarter of the North American continent. It’s hard to comprehend that the current rippling by us that day contained rain that fell on distant Manitoba or Minnesota; water that had thundered over Niagara’s cataract.

Scripture speaks of even greater rivers, the rivers of God. The river that went out of Eden to water the garden.(Gen 2:10) The river of pleasures that God gives his children to drink, a river that abundantly satisfies their thirst.(Psalm 36:8) The river that makes glad the city of God.(Psalm 46:4) The pure river that flows from the throne of God and the Lamb along the banks of which grow trees whose leaves are for the healing for the nations.(Rev. 22:1) God’s rivers are inexhaustible, pure, enlivening, enriching—and very mysterious.

The Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway System comprise one of the world’s greatest transportation networks. Between the Atlantic Ocean and Duluth, Minnesota, ships traverse a distance of 3700 kilometres. The system serves a region that is home to more than 90 million people, where a third of the continent’s gross national product is produced. The Great Lakes’ watershed accounts for forty per cent of US manufacturing and two-thirds of Canada’s industrial output.

God’s river system is far mightier. Through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit, his river dispenses grace and mercy to billions world-wide. Under a different image, but one that teaches the same lesson, we read that, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.(Matt. 5:45)

Love, God’s love, makes the world go round. The Lover on High moves men and women to embrace each other in relationships of committed love. The heavenly Father blesses couples with children. And Jesus, who loves children, encourages them to laugh and play. The Almighty causes flowers to bloom and tomatoes to ripen. He plants in hearts an appreciation for beauty and a longing for peace. He inspires acts of compassion and courage.

Like the mighty St. Lawrence, the world-wide flow of God’s love and mercy doesn’t depend on us. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. We can’t stop its flow. It just is—a universal fact of life on this planet. We can reject God’s love. We can distort it. We can corrupt it. We can degrade it. We can deny it. But we can’t stop it from flowing around us—on and on and on—like the great rivers of earth.

Wherever it flows, God’s love exposes anti-love and promises deliverance from its pernicious power. In the gospel of Jesus Christ, divine love’s most astounding expression, the waters of God’s grace wash away our sins. Let those waters wash over us!  [Adapted from Down A Country Road. See ]


Falling Leaves – Failing Health

Leaves have been slowly falling for the last week or so. They litter our lawn and beckon me to limber up the rake. Living in the country, I’m wont to let the wind do the raking for me, but this year I may gather some to enrich our compost heaps. That is, if I can get some relief from this arthritic knee which has me hobbling around the house.

With the falling leaves came falling temperatures. Although warm days continued into November, inevitably frost shriveled the flowers and killed the pepper plants. The garden cries out for me to abandon my seat at the computer and tidy up for the approaching winter. But I don’t quite feel like it.

Ah, yes, that nasty word, winter. Half the population laments the approach of shorter days, snowstorms, windshields encased in frost, and sky-high heating bills. The other half, well perhaps less than half, eagerly waxes their skiis, sharpens their skates, gets out their winter coats and plans a winter getaway to snow country.

Whatever one’s proclivity, it is pointless to complain about winter’s arrival. The passing of the seasons is unavoidable. We’d best face the facts with a cheerful countenance.

There is a season for everything. And, unlike the return of spring, we will not discover a fountain of youth for our aging bodies. No matter how many anti-winkle creams or pills we pop or operations we endure, age will gradually—or quickly—take its toll. Forgive me gentle reader for broaching a subject that is almost taboo. But it seems to me that like winter, we need to accept the inevitable—and prepare for it. Okay, I admit it, I haven’t yet given in to Mary Helen’s urging that we purchase a cemetery plot.

It will do me no good to nostalgically long for earlier years when I could run and jump and climb without hindrance. When the roof needs shingling again, I don’t think I’ll do it myself. No, it’s time to stare reality in the face—or in the mirror. My hair is thinning, my heart is weakening, and my legs are giving out. Last weekend I had to stop the repairs I was doing on my woodland bridge and take a breather.

None of this means that we are doomed to gloom. As the years accumulate, we can focus more on becoming godly, and less on feats of athletic skill. We can allow our circumstances to generate more empathy and compassion for others. We can read good books and write letters and send emails and use the phone to encourage people. We can talk to God more, intercede more, and study more about our future hope. Heaven is ahead. Christ will return. The kingdom will come. There will be no more pain and no more tears. What’s not to like about that!  [For books by this author see:]