Let the River Flow!!!
Here where I live there is a nearby lake. Elephant Butte lake is fed by the Rio Grande River, which is bolstered by snowmelt from Wolf-Creek pass in southern Colorado. When the lake is up it is a destination lake in the southwest United States. There is 194 miles of shoreline. It’s great for picnics, camping, beach volleyball, shore fishing, boating, water skiing, water boarding, inner tubing, jet skiing, bird watching, and just about any other water or beach recreation that you can name. I invite you to come join us during the season, from spring to fall, and enjoy the activities for yourself.
Elephant Butte Lake, however, was not created to be a recreational lake. The dam at Elephant Butte lake was built to generate electricity. Additionally, by controlling the water flow through the dam, the water in the Rio Grande river below the dam is used for irrigation to several agricultural businesses downstream. This includes the Hatch Valley, source of New Mexico’s famous Chile farms. There are also several pecan farms and other agricultural efforts along this same river. Due to water rights agreements, certain amounts of water must also flow downstream to Texas and Mexico.
When the snowfall is less than optimal, or when the downstream water requirements are heavy due to drought, the water level in Elephant Butte lake recedes to a point that it becomes sad to look at. There are places where it seems that you could almost walk across the lake, well, half-way across. The recreational opportunities are much reduced. Some beach areas become boggy mud holes; others become rocky outcroppings. When this happens, there is an outcry among those who use the lake for recreation. There is an echo that mirrors that outcry among the businesses that serve those recreational visitors, the hotels, the campgrounds, the grocery stores, the boat sales and repair places, the storage places, the local bars and restaurants, and many others. Their voices come together to attempt to change the rules to shut down the flow from the dam so that the authorities would retain a certain level of water in the lake for recreational purposes.
Christians are remarkably similar in nature to those who love to recreate at the lake. God does some amazing things in our lives, in our families, sometimes with our finances. My wife is enamored with new grandbabies. As a pastor, I love seeing someone who is growing in Christ to the point where they can hear God’s call on their life and feel His tug on their heart. Of course, both of us are blessed when someone blesses us with a personal gift of money. I suspect that most of us react the same to God’s blessings, although the blessings might look different for each of us. Do we desire to hoard what God is giving us as blessings? Do we want to retain the blessing for ourselves? Or are we willing to share it downstream?
There is a story in the Bible about a widow who was willing to share downstream. She was blessed with life and everything that she needed, not with an abundance, but only what was needed. The story is found in the gospel of Matthew and again in the gospel of Luke in the Bible. Here it is from the gospel of Luke, chapter 21, verses 1 through 4 in the New International Version.
1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 "Truly I tell you," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
This woman was noticed by Jesus because of her willingness to use what God had blessed her with to bless others. In doing so, she demonstrated a trust in God to provide for her. This kind of trust is something that many of us have missed in our lives. So, we hoard the blessings that God has given us and refuse to let them flow downstream to bless others. It is my hope that we will learn to let the river (of blessing) flow.