Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Swimming Upstream

I remember as a girl when my mom would take my sister and I to a local creek to watch the salmon in their annual run upstream.

It was amazing to see these relatively small fish swim, jump and fight their way against the tide, over rocks and other obstacles, with a dogged determination. Only until reaching the same place where they were hatched from, would they cease their driven journey.

I believe salmon are unique in this way and it is God’s amazing design. Maybe because of salmon we have the phrase to “swim upstream.”

This life of “going against the flow” should also be that of a Christian’s. The Bible tells us to not be conformed (Rom. 12:2), to throw off the old, sinful ways (Eph. 4:22), to strip off the old nature and put on the new one (Col. 3:9-10), to imitate God and no longer follow the world (Eph. 5:1), and so many other commands about turning away from the old, making a complete 180, and beginning to walk as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

However, do you know what that really means? We will be going against the flow of society, of culture, of media, of the world, and very likely against our neighbors, our friends, and possibly our family.

This past weekend, young men and women from Catholic, Muslim and other religious backgrounds, confessed Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, cutting and leaving behind those strong religious ties. It is highly likely they will not be embraced as they once were by their families and communities. They may be rejected, disowned, or thrown out. Their father or mother may refuse to pay for their education or to give them food. They have begun the swim upstream.

Baptizing one of our female students, a former Muslim, on Sunday.

Jesus especially did and said things that went against the norm, against the accepted, even by the respected religious leaders. He used mud to heal a blind man? Crazy! He healed on the Sabbath? Insane! He associated with prostitutes, thieves, and drunkards? Had he lost his mind?!

No. God’s ways are not at all like the world’s ways, in fact, they are completely contrary and entirely opposite.

My fellow Christians, this is the life we are called to. Not to blend in, not to adapt, not to conform, not to adhere. It means there will be a struggle – a daily one, a life-long one. It is a battle. It requires perseverance, focus, dedication.

But, the crown is promised only to those who remain faithful (Rev. 2:10). Heaven’s fruits and manna are promised only to the victorious (Rev. 2:7, 17). Inclusion in the Book of Life is only for those who persevere in faith (Rev. 3:5).

Those who wish to share in Jesus’ victory must also join His battle.

So, my friend, which direction are you swimming? With or against the world’s tide?

“But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12b-14


  1. Wonderful post, Ruthie! Praise God for all the souls given into His keeping! Andy and Kiki were at our church on Sunday, so we got a good update of how everything has been going. Thank you for your challenging reminder about how we should be living - going with the flow is the chosen option way too often, so this was a lovely refresher.

  2. Hi, Emily! Thank for your comment and kind words! I am glad you were able to hear an "island report" directly from Andy and Karina. Yes, "going with the flow" is often the chosen option, but not God's best for us. Blessings to you, too!