When our family moved 15 years ago, we stopped into the church that would be our new home parish. The stained glass windows above the altar depicted the sparkling waters of the river Jordan. The waters appeared blue, clean, and clear like some of the Canadian lake waters I’d witnessed long ago when I was a child on a camping trip.
So one day out of curiosity I googled “The River Jordan”. The image showed current day people in white robes being baptized. The waters appeared brown from all the sediment on the floor of the river being stirred up by the crowds. That waters didn’t’ appear blue or clear at all!
The River Jordan, (Nahr Al Sharieot) flows north to south from the mountains, through the Sea of Galilee and into the dead sea. It is a sacred river to Jews, Muslims, and Christians… But why on earth would John the Baptist subject people to being baptized in un-boiled and unpurified waters? Wouldn’t it make them sick? Back then they had no hand sanitizer, much less nearby showers to rinse in afterwards.
Yet after his baptism, Jesus would see a blind man, spit on the dirty ground, mix the spit with dirt and put it on a blind man’s eyes, thereby healing the man of blindness (John 9: verse 6). This proved that He, not the dirt, was the cure, making it obvious that He was the one working the miracle. Nothing in the dirt and spit could have healed the man. Likewise, God chose the muddy waters of The River Jordan to wash away our sins, while at the same time letting us know that He was the one taking away our sins, not the waters.
Some people think that if they live a good life or a Christian life, that their life will be pristine, sparkling, free of problems, like heaven on earth. Too often they find out that a Godly life is no guarantee of a problem free life, nor of a life without suffering.
Like the River Jordan, a good life may be pretty muddy… Many of the holy people in the bible suffered shipwrecks, were enslaved, betrayed, lived as exiles, knew poverty and hunger or, like the faithful prophets, were brutally killed,.
God never promised us a rose garden in this life, but only in the next. Life, even for many faithful believers in God, can be very tough. Suffering comes to both believers and unbelievers, and death eventually comes to us all. Yes, life is very muddy. But it’s right in the midst of the mud that many who were distant from God finally turn towards Him, or that the already Godly get closer to God.
Life, like muddy waters, is not often clear. “What should I do next?” we often ask ourselves without receiving an answer. Yet it is often in the very muddy waters of life, in the unclarity of our paths, that healing of the heart and soul finally occur. Just when we feel our lowest, perhaps our dirtiest, we have a thought of God, a sign of his presence, and he is already healing us…
The Wind at my Back
I seek a path in the new fallen snow
Though it’s night and not wise to travel~
Where am I going? I want to know as
The wind at my back does force me
It howls in the night, like a wolf at the moon,
Rushing past trees and hills
And its voice tells me ‘run’ as it hurries me there
To places and lands yet unknown
I beg for a rest. I will wait for the light,
For the darkness and cold don’t much please me.
But a whippoorwill laughs, “There’s no time to waste”
For time and the future are waiting