Writing about the river’s flow in our last post reminded me of the idea of “lining a canoe”. The basic principle is this: when seeking to take your canoe upstream against the current, you tie a rope near the front of the canoe and, walking upstream along the shore, you provide the power by pulling the rope and the river’s current keeps the boat from running into the bank. When I googled “lining a canoe” to learn more, I found this explanation on The Alaska Hunting Forum:
“I can tell you from personal experience that lining any boat upstream any appreciable distance comes down to one thing – HARD WORK. There’s just no easy way around it. The truth is that you will be in, on, and around that river for a considerable amount of time.” The author goes on to explain the details of the process and ends with these encouraging words, “If you decide to do this during the spring or summer, be sure to pack a big lunch and bring the bug spray! You’re gonna be there awhile.”
I used to think that living the Christian life was like “lining a canoe” upriver. I was always going against the current. I was always going upstream. And it was always hard work. I justified this feeling with the idea that we were counter-cultural, always swimming upstream against the world’s current. Always going against the flow. In a sense that is true. We are going against the world’s current.
What I was unaware of was that there is another river flowing; the river of God’s rest for the new covenant believer. In this river, we are very much going with the flow – the rushing current of God’s infinite grace, love, acceptance, forgiveness, mercy, and indwelling. This river never slows down or runs dry and God’s desire is that you find your rest in it.
This is the rest Jesus Himself offered his followers in the gospel of Matthew. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Mt 11:28-30). Jesus’ offer of rest is not just for the world-weary in need of salvation, but for walk-weary believers as well, striving to “keep up” the Christian life.
You see, in this journey called the Christian life, Christ is inviting us to join Him in the yoke. He is yoked with us. Have you ever wondered how Jesus could give such a serious call to discipleship in the gospels; counting the cost, the hardship, and the promise of suffering, and then turn around and say, “My yoke is easy and My load is light”? How do we reconcile what seem like opposites? The key is to recognize that it is Jesus in the yoke living the Christian life through us. He is doing the heavy lifting. Is there nothing for us to do or contribute? Our role is to join Him in the yoke, in the work, and to release the rushing rivers He has already put inside us.
Can I encourage you? If you are striving to “line the canoe” upstream in your Christian walk, take a minute to study the situation. Am I experiencing the “never thirst” that Jesus promised? Do I see the work of the Holy Spirit – that flowing river within me – in my daily experience? Have I believed all that became new under the provisions of the new covenant at my salvation? Thank your heavenly Father that there is a believer’s rest and a river’s flow for the children of God.