Going Deeper in the River

If you had grown up in Galveston on the Gulf Coast like I did, you would have gone to the beach often as a child. We still live near Galveston and our grandchildren have enjoyed going to the beach and playing in the water. Often my husband and I simply drive there and watch families take their small children wading so that the water comes up only a little ways. Older children go in deeper, of course, and surfers like to go still further out to ride the waves into shore. Shrimp boats certainly aren’t within swimming distance but are easily visible, while the oil tankers and container ships are out very deep so they are barely seen on the horizon. I thought of this last week while I was reading in the book of Ezekiel.

Sunday in church we sang two songs that made me connect the passage about the river in this book with Isaiah’s vision in the temple. The songs didn’t have anything to actually do with these two Scriptures, but the thoughts of going deeper in the Lord and experiencing more of His holiness brought them together for me. I pray to adequately explain that concept here. First, let’s look at the verses from Ezekiel 47:1-5:

The man [an angel] brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was flowing from the south side.   3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in — a river that no one could cross.

You can see the easy analogy of walking into the water on the beach. The other analogy I’d make is what kind of spiritual waters we walk in. When we first believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we go ankle deep. As we grow in our faith and practice, we go knee-deep. If we continue to mature spiritually, we are led into water that’s waist-deep. Some people may grow until they’re in spiritual water so deep they have to swim. Perhaps you know some like that. Others of us aren’t that far advanced, but we all need to strive to mature in Christ-likeness as much as we can. Maybe when we arrive in heaven, we’ll be where the ships patrol.

The second song we sang in church reminded me of Isaiah 6:1-9, though it wasn’t referenced in those verses:    In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.    5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”    6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”    8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”    And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”    9 He said, “Go and tell this people. .:”

As I thought of this Scripture, I thought of how when we first become Christians, we think about all God has done for us. That is good and right; all though our lives we need to remember and thank our Father for that. However, we’re only in the ankle-deep water. As we begin mature in the Lord, we start to understand more about how much greater He is than we are; how He truly is Lord. We’re walking in the knee-deep water. Hopefully, we will continue our journey walking into more intimacy with Him until we can start to grasp the vision Isaiah had in the temple. We gaze upon Him and wonder how such an almighty God can have anything at all to do with sinful people like we are, even though our iniquities are forgiven because they are taken from us by the blood of Jesus. We stand, then, before Him in awe and marvel at His majesty. Then we simply surrender before our heavenly Father and say, “What service may I do for You?” I didn’t include the complete verse 9 above because God will give us different gifts and ways of serving Him, but they all will involve telling others about our great and wonderful Savior.

Please ponder where you are in the water. Then, let’s all determine to march forward deeper. We know that will make our Father’s heart happy.