We hiked to the stream. Actually, it wasn’t much of a hike and it wasn’t much of a stream. Still, we had walked through the mud to a creek outside of Seattle to see the salmon running. We ambled along the curves of the stream looking for the salmon intent on making their way against the current. Finally, we found a place where the water was rushing over a fallen tree. There in the shallows of the stream, we found the salmon.
I guess that I had expected the picture to be a little more dramatic. A raging river, perhaps, with rocky boulders creating overwhelming obstacles. That is what you see in the movies anyway. Our little stream was quiet. It wasn’t the kind of place where news cameras swarm or poets search for inspiration. It was ordinary, and in the ordinary, I saw God’s genius.
The salmon in our little stream gathered around one particular curve. Here the current was moving around a fallen tree, pushing the water forward. The salmon worked hard to hold their place. They had to maneuver to stand against the tide. You could almost see them gathering their resolve to make the push forward. One would surge ahead, only to get knocked back, sometimes several feet downstream. They didn’t give up. Slowly but surely, they allowed the instinct God gave them to move them back upstream.
One fish seemed particularly determined. Holding its place in the water, the salmon seemed to ignite its energy by moving its tail back and forth. Then it plunged ahead. It made a few inches progress and then worked on maintaining its new place in the stream. I cheered, and saw myself.
God calls us to be a people who swim upstream. We may not move through dramatic waters, but He calls us to be His in the ordinary places in our lives. As His children, we are never meant to go with the flow, be swept along by the world, or take the easiest path. God calls us, like He calls the salmon, to move in a direction that brings us to His great purpose in our lives. A salmon can’t fulfill its purpose if it doesn’t make the journey upstream. Neither can we.
My Jesus Resolution today is to set my eyes on swimming upstream. I am not going to let the world define my direction or set my path. I am going to go where God calls me, even if it means moving in the opposite direction of those around me. I might get knocked back. I might expend energy just holding my place in the current. But nobody hikes through the mud to see fish swimming downstream. Maybe by swimming in my ordinary part of the stream today, I can point somebody to Jesus.