Many years ago I had occasion to float the Caddo River on an inner tube. I think that was my first time to do it, and I don’t remember ever doing it again. I do remember being momentarily pinned to a tree branch that was down in the water. Everything was smooth and gentle, a lazy day floating the river. I allowed myself to get over to one side of the river and come up on the tree branch down in the water. “Not a problem”, I thought. I will just grab hold of it and go around it.” Everything was calm and gentle, but when I got to the branch I was very surprised at the force behind me that not only was pinning me to the branch, but it was pulling me under the water! It happened to fast and so forceful, a momentary bolt of panic shot through me as I realized this was no game. That river could just calmly and gently drown me! I never knew there was such force in operation, while it all looked so peaceful!
It is easy for us to float through life with everything appearing calm and peaceful on the surface. We can splash and frolic as we float down the stream and enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful day. The forces we are dealing with are very powerful forces that are much greater than we realize. We are operating either under the power of sin and death or in the power of the righteousness of God and life. The power of God’s righteousness in Christ Jesus, when he is truly the Lord of our life, carries us down the middle of the river away from the snags and branches in the river. The power of sin and death takes us to one side or the other, where the snags of transgression and the branches of willful sin stick out into our path of travel. Everything is calm and peaceful and it is a beautiful day, until we are pinned to a branch and a force greater than we can resist takes us down and drowns us in eternal death, separated from God’s presence forever. The calm river deceives us and takes us out without mercy. Jesus came to take our sin away and fill us with his Spirit and guide us in the river of life each day. His blood sacrifice is our righteousness with God forever. We can trust him. We cannot trust our goodness and righteousness. We can embrace and rely on his finished work and sacrifice for us. He is faithful, he will carry us through. Thank God for Jesus Christ who will safely carry us down the peaceful river of life to our home in him forever.