Last Sunday, I did what I do most weekends and slipped out of the house before anyone had stirred, to make my way to the river. Weeks of unrelenting rain had finally given way to a bitterly cold, bright morning and I was greeted by the uplifting sight of a riverbank cloaked under a blanket of frost, with a gentle mist rising from the river. Buoyed by the magnificence of nature, I began my walk with thoughts percolating through my mind as I mulled over an issue that was troubling me. I often used solitary walks to seek God’s guidance and today was no different. A project I’d worked on for almost two years was in danger of collapsing and I was wrestling with an urge to contact decision makers and repeat forceful arguments, I’d made days earlier.
Lost in thought, I didn’t at first notice the sunlight shimmering playfully on the river, but suddenly it caught my attention and I stopped to watch. I noticed how effortlessly the river flowed, lacking any hint of force or exertion, yet with deliberation and purpose. Fascinated, it suddenly dawned on me that God was using the river to speak to me about my predicament.
Taking a seat on a nearby bench, I paused to reflect on my situation. Being a driven person, I found it difficult to wait patiently for a decision and was used to taking control and deploying pressure to influence outcomes, so doing nothing felt like capitulation. My mind was burdened with tumultuous thoughts, demanding I take action before it was too late, yet plagued with hesitancy, because any approach may badly backfire.
Wracked in confusion, I watched the graceful flow of the river and envied its serenity as it continued its unhurried journey and gently lulled me into a hypnotic state. I realised God was reminding me of the genial flow of nature and how I could learn from it, by allowing the underlying current (i.e. God) to carry me. After all, I had faith. Didn’t I believe God had everything in hand and could be trusted, irrespective of the outcome? What would forcing the issue achieve, other than rankle decision makers and accentuate my desperation? Surely with faith, there’s no need to manipulate situations or force issues. Instead, be like the river and go with the flow.
Sighing deeply, I rose to my feet and made my way home. Later, as I reflected on the day’s events, I realised how often the earthly world convinces us that we must take action when confronted with an unwanted development. As if by taking action, we can reverse events and escape the fate that awaits us. Yet what if disruption to the status quo was precisely what we needed but didn’t recognise it at the time? I have no doubt that sometimes the best course is to take action, but there’s also another approach which carries a deeper wisdom. A wisdom, which urges restraint rather than action, because sometimes doing nothing is the most powerful statement of faith.