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 http://www.countrywindow.ca ]