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Come to the River11 months ago
These are dry times for many people spiritually. In this week’s Blog Adrian Stone takes us to familiar scriptures about the River of God in scripture, where we can put down deep roots into life and drink deeply of the living water of the Holy Spirit, that renews and refreshes.
I’m Adrian Stone, the vicar of Trentham just on the south of Stoke-On-Trent. I’m out on a dog walk by the River Trent. I’ve been thinking about the place of ‘the river’ in scripture and want to share some thoughts with you today. As we look at scripture, we see that at the beginning there is a river in the garden of Eden in Genesis (Gen 2) and at the end there is the river running through the city in Revelation (Rev 22). The Bible uses ‘the river’ in all sorts of ways: God’s life, His presence, His Hoy Spirit with us.
A tree planted by a river
Psalm 1 talks about a person who meditates on scripture being like a tree planted by a river. You can see over my shoulder those trees that have been there for decades – planted by a river, roots going down deep and of course the joy of tree being by a river is that it is not totally reliant on rainfall – it can survive when it hasn’t rained for a while because the river keeps flowing its roots go down deep into the soil where there is water and nourishment. It feels to me at this time that as a nation we are drying up. People are struggling to find that nourishment and that presence of God in their lives. Of course Psalm 1 would say meditate on scripture, spend time listening to the Lord through his word…. open your heart to the Holy Spirit and allow his living water to nourish your very soul.
The deer pants for water
Psalm 42 says ‘As the deer pants for water so my soul longs after you’. I think the deer would know where the water streams would be and has returned to a place where it would usually find water but finds it dry. I wonder if that’s true for you at the moment. The usual places that you find renewal and refreshment in the Lord aren’t happening in the same way: Worship with others face to face, prayer ministry, laying on of hands, moments where, together with others in the presence of God, we would encourage one another and we’re missing out on that. ‘Why are you so downcast O my soul?’ (Psalm 42) I will put my trust in him.
Going round and round
It might be that you connect with this river down behind me where it gets caught on the bank and creates eddy currents that spin around going nowhere. I like to stand and pray here asking the Lord ‘Where am I spiralling at the moment, what am I going round and round with? For me it’s aften food and eating, but can be other things. The bible talks about difficulties as tests and trials. It strikes me that Paul never says ‘I pray that you’ll get out of your situation easily’!! He says that something like ‘I pray that in your situation you will become more like Jesus, that this very trial will help you bury yourself deeper into him. James says ‘consider it pure joy when you go through trials’. What might the Holy Spirit be saying to you as the river continues to flow?
Come to me and drink
So here we are at the River Trent. Park Brook, where we were just now, is over there and joins the river Trent here. I’m reminded of Jesus standing up on the last day of the feast saying “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”, the writer added that by this he meant the Holy Spirit (John 7).
Look at this life by this river, all that it gives. I wonder whether you feel like an evergreen or a deciduous tree at the moment, out of season. The bible talks about that tree by the river bearing fruit in season. May the Holy Spirit give to you the presence of Jesus. May you know his strength at this time, his peace, and in all the circles that we go round may you know his freedom.
On this river for 1400 years people have gathered. They’ve gathered to pray and they’ve gathered for healing. They’ve waited on the Holy Spirit to know what he’s calling them to do.
Today may you know his peace and have ears to hear his leading. May you be refreshed and drink deeply of his presence and do his will.
In Jesus name. Amen.