Paddling white water is one of the most exhilarating experiences I know. My love of navigating challenging waters began in childhood on the large creek flowing through our farm. Through the years I mastered a wooden flat-bottom boat, a rowboat, a canoe, and finally a kayak. With each boat, it was necessary to be able to “read the water” to successfully navigate around all sorts of obstacles. The volume and speed of white water ramps everything up, and adds an element of danger that commands undivided attention. Trouble comes when a misread results in being wedged upon or against a rock, or forced into a strong eddy (circular current of water). The danger of capsizing or roll-over requires fighting the current to get out. Compared to the intensity of white water, the slower pace of most creeks is very pleasant for simply drifting along. Yet even here, the current plays a significant role. Through inattention, low-hanging branches have been responsible for an unexpected swim, or a drift into the shallows requires getting out to drag the boat into deeper waters.
In an interestingly similar way, Christ-followers find themselves navigating contemporary political and social currents. Overtly anti-Biblical and/or anti-God threats demand our attention to avert the destruction of our freedoms, as anyone not fighting this current will become its victim. Yet, equally dangerous are those issues that don’t seem to carry the same weight, largely because we’ve become enculturated to them, like the slide of moral standards. Inattention to those have long term effects on the next generation, requiring our children to paddle hard upstream to correct. So, we have to take responsibility in both.
The instructions Paul gives his spiritual son, Timothy, are just as vital for us today in appropriating truth for guidance. “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind who have been robbed of the truth.” “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 11-12)
We should never mistake the positivity of the latter list as a peaceful endeavor. It is a fight to maintain – it requires decisive, purposeful action — Paul calls it the “good fight.” Because it is a fight of faith, we should be very encouraged that we are not alone nor unequipped. Our God goes before us and with us – instructing and empowering us. Moses charged his successor Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22) Faith says that God, the same yesterday, today, and forever, is our Hope and Trust. He will do what He says He will do.
But do we really believe that, or does fear of the furious current have us incapacitated? Do the more subtle issues have us lulled into complacency? Consider that God in His wisdom ordained that each of us live at this particular time in history. If He knows the number of hairs on the head of each person, then we can be certain we are deliberately here “for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
What role has God called you to play in fighting the current?