Come to the River of Life – Ezekiel 47

I was reading Ezekiel 47, where Ezekiel in a vision, is being shown around the temple of God. From under the temple, he sees water flow toward the East, coming from under the South side of the temple. He goes outside. On the south side, the water is a trickle but as they head Eastward, the water gets deeper. It starts ankle deep, then knee deep, then to the waist, until it becomes a river so deep he cannot cross. 

As I was reading this passage, the Lord reminded me of when I was little, my parents would often take us to the public swimming pools. Because I was the youngest, I splashed in the kids pool, while the older kids could go into the deeper pools. At one end of the kids pool, the water comes up to the ankles of an adult and at the other end it can come up to their knee. Initially, I was only allowed in the deeper pool with an adult. My father would take me into the adult pool and teach me to float by holding his hands under me, and get me to relax. I was scared but always knew as long as he was with me, I would not drown.

The point of the shallow pool is to have a safe place, suitable for young children to play and get comfortable being in the water. But at they grow, it is expected they learn to swim and then move to deeper water.  It is relaxing to hang out in the shallow water for a time, but is boring to stay there once you have experienced the deeper water.

I believe the Lord reminded me of the pool as He is calling us to trust Him and go deeper. Our Heavenly Father is not going to let us drown, he holds his hands out under us to support us while we learn to float and eventually ‘swim’. He doesn’t want us to live a restricted life in the shallows, but to have greater freedom and as we discover the joys of playing in the deep.

Next God reminded me of the ocean. Because I come from an Island nation, and live in an area with many beaches, it was expected that all of us kids learn to swim – for good reason as I have had a few ’near’ drowning experiences! We spent most summer days and school holidays going to places with water. Either rivers, lakes or oceans. At the beach, when you go swimming, you often start in ankle deep water but as you head out, pretty soon you will be in water over your head. 

If you grew up on surf beaches, as I did…you know even if the water is not actually over your head yet, all it takes is one big wave to crash over you and suddenly you are battling to get up, and then another one hits. Our Heavenly Father wants to strengthen us because he knows that unexpected and hard things in life will happen  – it is necessary and inevitable, just like those big waves coming. But if we learn to swim and build up strength, we are better equipped to deal with those waves when they hit, and we can even have fun. 

As I thought on these things, God reminded me of the time, my dad had taken us to a West Auckland beach and I was out playing in the surf. By this time I was able to swim unsupervised. I was comfortable with big waves and didn’t care about being able to touch the ground. But the unexpected happened. I got a cramp in my leg and panicked. My father saw I was in trouble and that I needed help, so he came and got me and carried me out onto the beach. God reminded me that even though he wants us to grow stronger, it is not to be independent of him. That, he will always be our Father and that we will always need him to be present.

I read Ezekiel 47 a second time. This time the Lord focused my attention on what happens as the water becomes a deep river.  When the river reaches the salty water of the Dead Sea, it turns to fresh water.  Life giving water. Wherever this water flows there is abundant life. Swarms of living creatures and large numbers of fish. There are many trees that grow on the side of the river. Fruit trees of many kinds. These trees have leaves that don’t wither and fruit that never fails. The leaves bring healing, the fruit brings food.  Jesus is our living water. In him is abundant life, nourishment and healing for our souls and bodies. The message this time was simple – don’t settle for a trickle of Jesus in your life but get in over your head. You won’t drown, instead you will find abundant life. God’s provision and restoration; Food and healing for your body, mind and soul.

The third reading of this passage was about focusing on the direction of the river flow. God was impressing on me to pay attention to the direction. This meaning is still unclear to me, but I felt we were to look into directions and seek him about what the Eastward flow means with regards to our ministry for interceding and travel. More will unfold on this I am sure!

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