I can think of very few times over the past several months (wait – maybe years), where life hasn’t felt like a big rush. My “urgent” to-do list only seems to grow and between school drop-offs and pick-ups, kids’ activities, errands, ministry life, trying to squeeze in some exercise (and an occasional conversation with my husband), there’s so much pressure to just GO GO GO.
Even our vacation here in the mountains of western North Carolina has felt rushed. There’s just so much we want to do and see!
But the other day we went to a place where “rush” is fairly impossible: Parson’s Branch Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This 8-mile “primitive” road takes about an hour to traverse and is only passable with a 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
What makes Parson’s Branch stand out from other backcountry roads is that it includes 18 fords. No, not Fords (the vehicle make) or fjords (a narrow arm of the sea surrounded by steep cliffs), but sections of a road where a stream or river flows over the road – and you (in your 4-wheel-drive vehicle, of course) get to drive through it!
So, as you drive along, this beautiful, winding mountain stream repeatedly crosses your path. And 18 times, you get to “ford” it.
One of the most thrilling things is to drive fast through these crossings, causing water to spray up high out of both sides of your vehicle. Of course we tried this at least once – and what a rush!
But at one particularly picturesque crossing, I told Tim to stop the car so we could all get out and get the “full ford experience”:
Walking through the ford was breathtaking – and not just because the water was freezing! It was such a unique and refreshing feeling to plant your feet in a spot in the middle of the road and let the stream flow over and around them.
Now THAT’S a rush.
As believers in Christ, streams of living water are constantly crossing our path. Every day we have the opportunity to pause, plant our feet, and soak up God’s word.
But if you’re like me, there’s a huge temptation to just speed through our days – to skip the fords and take the fast route instead.
My life was changed drastically three years ago when, after following Jesus for over 15 years, I finally sent all of my excuses packing and just started doing it. I started spending time in His Word every morning.
I started traveling on the “Parson’s Branch” road of life. I made the conscious choice to exit the superhighway and take the much slower road, where I have to say a whole lot of “no” to a whole lot of things and where I don’t accomplish nearly as much as I used to, but where I allow the streams of living water to cross my path every day.
But even in that, I’ve found another dangerous temptation: To speed through those “fords” hoping for the “rush” of a tweetable quote, a power verse, a new insight, or just something “thrilling” that sprays the water up high and carries me through to the next ford.
And when I rush through my time with Jesus like that, I’m missing out on the “full ford experience”. I’m missing out on the refreshment of planting my feet in that stream, allowing His words to flow over and around me – no matter how “boring” or “I’ve-read-this-passage-a-thousand-times” they may seem.
There’s a popular worship song out right now – maybe you’ve even sung these words:
“Spirit of the living God
Spirit of the living God
We only want to hear Your voice
We’re hanging on every word”*
We sing this and we mean it – we want to hear His voice! But are we really hanging on every word? Because He’s given us hundreds of thousands of them, right there in front of us, just waiting to be soaked in.
Or are we only looking for the “rush” of something “new” and “cool”?
God’s word (and every single word of it) is like that stream – it’s alive and active and flowing from a constant, unending Source.
So get off the highway and exit onto the slow road. And once you get there, remember to stop and take it in – take His Word for what it is, whatever it is at that crossing, and soak it up.
Over time you’ll find it’s a rush unlike any other.
*from “Spirit of the Living God” by Vertical Church Band
(Originally posted: August 2015)