I live close to a deep and wide river called the Willamette. It dominates the landscape in our city, forming a valley thirty miles wide and over one hundred miles long. Smaller rivers and creeks drain into it from the surrounding hills and farmland. Roads must run parallel to the river until the terrain allows for a bridge so they can cross. During winter storms or mountain snow melts, the river often bursts its banks and dominates more forcefully.
Our lives seem like the Willamette River. They dominate. Of course God loves us as individuals; He speaks to us and His power is available to bless, free, and equip us. But we shouldn’t live as though everything God does is solely for our benefit—streams of living water to soothe our hearts. Abram struggled to see his life legacy in light of the purposes of God. His childlessness seemed like a dam blocking his dreams and he struggled to find a solution. It dominated his prayer times:
Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15:2-5)
Abram’s faith came alive just then but it flickered several times. Like us, he needed perspective. The Willamette River flows into the mighty Columbia. The Colombia River flows for two thousand miles and has carved a gorge through the Cascade Mountains one thousand feet deep. Our lives are like the Willamette; they flow into the greater purposes of God.
If only Abram had known that before He begged God to give him a son to be his heir. If only he had understood that God was not agreeing to his request because He wanted to do a favor for a desperate friend. An heir for Abram was part of the expansive purposes of God. Abram’s son would continue the line of blessing and promise, fulfill prophecy, and create a national seedbed in which to raise God’s Son as a man.
Had Abraham realized that his life lay in the drainage basin of the much vaster purposes of God then he might have relaxed a little more as he waited to receive his son. If only we could get that perspective on our own lives, we might live with more dignity. All that we do and every drop of who we are can contribute to the glorious river of God’s work.
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