BALDWIN: the endless river, forever and ever

Sometimes, God, You ask me to do hard things. Impossible things. To wade through turbulent life rivers with sharp rocks just below the surface, the force of the current pushing and pulling me first to one side, and then the other. Sometimes I lose my footing, and the swirling waters carry me back downstream to places I have already been, and I battle to regain ground I thought I had already conquered. Sometimes an invisible force drags me under, and I struggle to get my head above water, to breathe deeply and fill my lungs with life. With hope.

Sometimes I see people standing along the far bank of the river watching passively, not seeming to care that I am losing the battle against the current. Sometimes they look on me with unconcealed animosity, as if to say “You got too close to the river. This is your problem, not mine.”

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Sometimes I manage to fight my way to shore, only to discover that it is foreign and unfamiliar. The landscape is different, the territory uncharted, the people strangers. Huddled on the bank, unsure where to go from here, I can hear wild animals snarling in the distance, and I imagine they are just waiting to pounce the minute I lower my guard.

Why, God? I could understand if I had made poor choices. It would make sense if I had broken Your law and was being disciplined. But I have searched my heart and know that I have walked in integrity before You. So why have You led me here?

Yes, You led me here. You guided me into this river. You called me out into these treacherous waters. You planned this all along. Just as You led the Hebrew nation to the banks of the Red Sea with the entire Egyptian army behind them, You led me to this desolate and frightening place.

And just as You opened up the waters before them, You will rescue me. Everything You do is designed to display Your glory and to cultivate deeper faith in me.

So I will wait, in this dark, cold place, wolves howling all around me, tolerating the uncaring stares and hostile words of the people on the opposite bank. I will listen for Your voice, I will look into the darkness to catch a glimpse of You, and I will expect to see Your glory revealed, not in spite of, but because of my troubles.

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