I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:14
Imagine trying to swim against the current in this picture. Impossible, if not for some force outside yourself.
I sometimes think of the journey of faith as being on a river. We want to get upstream, to life, not downstream to death. Yet, the journey upstream is not easy. In fact, if we do nothing, we automatically get further from our goal. The current of the culture and the world system flows mightily & perpetually against where we want to go.
The up-stream journey of faith to the source is hard in many respects. For me, it certainly takes intentionality, desire and a humble acknowledgement that “I can’t get upstream on my own”.
When I take my eyes off Jesus, I tend to float downstream. When I get busy with the toils of life, I float away from my source. When I work non-stop and don’t take a break, I tend to float downstream. John 15:5 reminds me of this reality:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
However, when I rely on God’s inner life to draw me upward, I win. When I am surrounded by others who are also headed in my direction and when I do authentic life with them, the journey upstream seems less difficult.
So, what is my role in heading upstream?
It’s not duty or obligation to a religious system, that’s for sure.
I think, for me, it starts with a heart-desire for a deeper personal love relationship with Jesus. From that place I want to:
- Pray and talk to Him
- Worship / Praise Him
- Sacrifice / surrender my life, my ego and my will each day
- Love the people God has put in front of me
- Listen to His response in my prayer time
- Find places and times to be still and quiet
- Choose to walk away from the things that pull me downstream
- Remain in close authentic fellowship with others who love Jesus
- Watch for Him and His lessons in the small things of life
- Pray for protection from the evil one
For me these are the things that allow me to somehow go against the stream and move upward. Knowing that it is the Holy Spirit in me, encouraging me to do these things, is the true source of strength to overcome the downward flow. My own efforts, guided by my reason, my will, my ego, my personality or talents will always drift in the wrong direction.
Lord, help me and my friends to learn to be guided by You and Your desires, Your strength and purpose in us. Help me and my friends to learn to not rely on our own will, our own strength, our personality, intellect or charm to grow toward You. I pray that You will use anything You have given me to propel me upstream toward Thy face. Otherwise I’m doomed, will sink, will flow away from You and will hit my head upon the rocks of life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.