Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 (CEB)
Our Lord’s favor poured all over me along with the faithfulness and love that are in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:14 (CEB)
Water is remarkable. While sometimes soft and soothing, its fearsome power is on display in ocean waves or during floods. But water’s most remarkable transformations come over time. If you visit a canyon, look carefully at a stream bed, or enter a cave, you will see how water has cut through sand and silt, dirt and roots, and even the deepest levels of bedrock. Sometimes quickly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, water shapes, forms, and changes its environment.
It is no wonder, then, that water imagery is so common in Judaism and Christianity. Through the prophecy of Amos, God gave this command: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24). Ezekiel saw a river flowing from the temple that brought life to everything it touched (see Ezekiel 47). Through baptism, Christians enact our dying to self and rising in Christ with water.
Paul’s description of his “before and after,” caused by God’s overflowing grace, evokes images of God’s movement as water. When Jesus entered his life, Paul didn’t become someone different; rather, like a riverbed, his gifts were redirected as he was caught up in the flow of God’s love. He was still zealous; but rather than protecting traditional Judaism from supposed heretics, he poured himself into sharing the good news of abundant life for all. His eloquence and erudition were refocused. God’s love had flooded Paul’s life and redirected his skills, creating new channels to deliver grace and mercy to the world.
Salvation is a beautiful mystery, at once a flood of God’s grace and a lifetime journey in God’s channel of mercy.
God, thank you for the ways I experience your mercy and grace- at times like a flood, sweeping me up; at times like a soft, life-giving rain, nourishing my soul. Amen.
By Beth Ludlum, Upper Room Disciplines 2022, p. 302.