Last night, my husband and I perched for a long while on a large rock in a river.
To be precise, the rock was nearly located in two rivers. It's a remarkable place because it's where two mighty forces collide, mingling both waters and destinies in their mutual ambition to find the least resistant path to the sea.
If you think one river seems powerful, watch one crash into another.
To our great awe and delight, as we sat on one large rock in the middle of two rivers, we noticed three petite birds in the midst of it all. They were feasting on tiny morsels of something present in the water. They took advantage of the many rocks deposited over time into this aquatic intersection to ground themselves (even if ever so slightly) in their determined quest to acquire dinner.
Not only did these small flying creatures demonstrate a keen adroitness at fishing minuscule insects from a roaring river, but they did so leaning into it with the strength of something we tend to deem slight and weak: bird legs.
Those little twigs withstood an incredible amount of power raging against them.
We typically don't recommend people place themselves in the path of two rivers, but these feathered fellows seemed to feast without fear.
And when I began to realize this, I also realized the Lord Himself was speaking to my heart, reminding me of a precious bit of scripture and a timeless truth:
"when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you..." (Isaiah 43:2a)
"Yes, Lord," my heart remarked, "I often feel as though my own foundations are but 'bird legs,' easily deemed slight and weak in the face of adversities that collide and rage against me. Sometimes it feels as though I have very little on which to stand."
"Yes, Child," Truth replied, "but I have girded your legs that you might stand anyway."
...be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes...Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand...Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...(and all of Ephesians 6:10–17)
These tiny little creatures upon which we marveled surely have no idea how humans sometimes demean their puny appendages, likening them to an immature fragility and wobbliness which their actual fortitude defied before our eyes.
We humans have a remarkable track record of misjudging exterior appearances. (See 1 Samual 16:7.)
God, on the other hand, knows just what we need for the things He allows to come our way and puts within us (by way of His creative power and/or Holy Spirit empowerment) everything we need to face the challenges He allows.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
What if we get knocked off our feet?
God has a plan for that too, as we witnessed by way of our evening entertainment.
You see, those little birds did lose their footing a few times, but God built into them a backup plan: the ability to float (like adorable miniature ducks) without floating too far. Their little feet somehow gripped onto nearby rocks, allowing them to regain their composure and return to their mission in short order.
Friend, God has put this in us too!
Sometimes we must assume a floating position and let our challenging circumstances carry us away just a tad.
(Note: I said circumstances, not sin. Never let sin carry you away lest it lead you to death (James 1:14-15). Neither be carried away by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14).)
But sometimes we float along atop raging tribulations, never giving up on the ability of the little grippers God provides and always hopeful that at some point our Faithful Father will supply a solid bit of earth on which to stand once again.
"The floating isn't forever," I heard Him say to my spirit.
"Yes, Lord, I know. Sometimes it feels that way, but I know you will provide a place where I can stand again, and I know you have put within me the ability to regain footing so I can return to the mission."
While I let that truth simmer in my heart, I noticed one last thing...
The value of the raging river for my newfound feathered friends
Remember the feast?
It came from within the rivers––the mighty, tumultuous, potentially destructive force of the rivers.
God allowed those birds to withstand something far more powerful than themselves so they might glean nourishment to not just last, but to make them even stronger.
"I do the same for you, you know."
I heard His voice again.
"Yes, Father, I know. You've caused us to glean so much from the things which could have taken us out. We are so much stronger now than before because you nourished us well."
Not only does God promise that He will be with us when we pass through the waters and that they will not sweep over us (Isaiah 43:2a), but He actually invites us to come to them.
"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare." (Isaiah 55:1-2)
Evening turned to dusk, and our tummies reminded us of how we had skipped dinner in favor of the cool forest air.
We pulled ourselves up from the rock in the rivers, immediately grateful for our own ability to grip that stone surface high above the swirling wetness below, carefully climbed down, and navigated the rock path across our version of a neighborhood pool back to land, leaving those three little birds behind––but not the lessons they teach.
Yes, God provides what we need to stand despite adversity.
He even provides backup plans in the form of the ability to float.
And He'll use the adversity itself to carry to us nourishment for our souls.
Sometimes, like two rivers crashing into each other, that adversity comes from more than one direction, but it is still not too much because God is there with us through it all.
To God be the glory!