I’d always heard about salmon swimming upstream, but I never understood why they do that. After doing a little digging, I learned way more about salmon that I ever wanted to know, but also found a really cool application for the information.
Salmon start out as small eggs in a freshwater stream bed. Once they hatch, they begin a journey downstream towards the ocean. They actually spend a couple of years in the streams and rivers. After reaching a certain maturity (smolts), their bodies have changed to adapt to seawater. They spend several years swimming in the sea. Once they’ve fully matured, they swim back to their original stream or river and return to their spawning grounds. Sometimes this means swimming up tough rivers with plenty of obstacles along the way… rapids, waterfalls… you name it. Upon returning to their original spawning place, they breed and lay their eggs. After spawning, the salmon generally die within a week, which fertilizes the stream and creates a nutrient rich environment for the eggs that are about to hatch (and now YOU know way more about the life cycle of salmon that YOUever wanted to – HA!)
I find myself marveling at the life of the salmon – one that takes them on such a long journey, with so many challenges along the way – yet they don’t give up. I guess it’s the final phase of the cycle that amazes me. The swimming upstream. Against the current. Up the waterfall (how do they DO that?). Talk about resolve!
Paul knew something about that.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of humanwisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis mine)
So often I find myself – even in my spiritual life – reacting, instead of living. Things just sort of happen to me, and I respond – often from a place of emotion (dangerous, no? Jeremiah 17:9).
Paul was so different. He was never one to sit back and just deal with stuff as it came. This man of God was determined to preach the gospel – Jesus Christ, crucified – and proclaim it loudly, in spite of the obstacles – and we’re talkin’ some serious obstacles!
This is the stuff: Beaten with rods. Stoned. Shipwrecked. Robbed. Hungry. Thirsty. Cold. Naked. Imprisoned.
This was the ordained plan, even before Paul knew the Lord. God spoke to Ananias concerning Paul: “…Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will how him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)
Yet in spite of it all, Paul was resolved to share Christ with any who would listen.
When I stack my list of “stuff” up against Paul’s, there really is no comparison. Yet I am not nearly as dedicated to knowing “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” among the people with whom I share life. I don’t make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5). I’m not always prepared to give an answer to those who ask me to give the reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15).
I’m often more interested in making friends than I am in making disciples.
I’d rather be a well-wisher than a witness.
I’ve been intently seeking the Lord over the past week or so to shed light on the sin in my life, and this? This is a huge area where my obedience is less than stellar. I’m so thankful that when I fall short, He faithfully – and lovingly – collects me in His arms and redirects me. I’m thankful that as disheartening as it is to know I’ve not lived up to the calling He has placed on my life, His grace encourages me to carry on and not give up. I’m thankful that His mercy is new every morning.
I can almost hear Him now… “Keep swimming, Heather… just keep swimming!”
What about you? Do you find it challenging to live with the clarity of focus that Paul did? What are some of the creative ways you share your faith with others? I’d love to hear from you!
(This post is part of the #shesharestruth experiment with the She Reads Truth Community. Check it out!)