Awash in the River

Awash in the River

Does the greatest impact from the story of Adam and Eve come from that it happened, or that it does happen?

Is it just a story, or is it our story? Not in some esoteric, genes-and-blood-and-destiny sense, but in the dense, concrete truth that we have all violated our world, our fellow men and women, and the very God to whom we owe our very being – not to mention everything else?

We have all blamed another for our own fault. We have all gone against that little voice inside our heads screaming at us to do the other thing. Our hands are stained with the blood of our brother, and our scars reflect a world that we can never return to.

Maybe we’re stuck in a pattern right now that we can’t seem to get out of. Maybe we are even trying to find a way out, but we just can’t seem to crack it. We just feel. . . Dirty. Unclean. Unworthy. Broken.

As I went down to the river to pray,
Studying about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown –
Good Lord, show me the way.

God has prepared for us a river. It is broad, and it is deep. Its waters are as clear as a summer sky and as bright as the flare of dawn. What’s more, this river, this beautiful, twisting, gleaming thing, flows right out of the unquenchable springs of Life Eternal.

Aren’t you tired of the things that are holding you back? Aren’t you ready for a new day? A new life? The burdens and trials and dust grow so heavy. Why hold on to that unbearable sadness? Why cling to those black, numbing regrets? Wouldn’t you like to wash them away?

Oh sisters, let’s go down
Let’s go down,
Come on down.
Oh sisters, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray.

Dip yourself in the river, and feel the cool stillness wash over you. Feel it wash away all that you were. Feel it invigorate all that you could be. Then move deeper. Feel the current pick you up. Your feet lift off of the riverbed, and you are carried down.

As I went down in the river to pray,
Studying about that good old way,
And who shall wear that starry crown,
Oh Lord, show me the way.

There is a moment of panic. You are no longer in control. So you begin to paddle, to kick, to strive for the riverbank. You are losing your bearings. Soon you will have no idea where you are.

But a calmness settles over you. The water laps softly against your body, and it is as if you hear a voice whisper, “Trust me.”

Oh brothers, let’s go down
Let’s go down,
Come on down.
Come on brothers, let’s go down
Down to the river to pray.

You no longer know where you’ve been. But you know who you’re becoming. You are becoming clean. You are becoming whole. You are becoming brave and honorable and beautiful. You swallow a mouthful of water. It is clean and sweet and pure. You drink more. You don’t just want to swim in the river: you want it to become you.

You see others along the riverbank, and you wave to them wildly. “Come in!” you cry. “You won’t believe how good this is! You won’t believe it!”

Oh sinners, let’s go down
Let’s go down,
Come on down.
Oh sinners, let’s go down
Down in the river to pray.

As I went down in the river to pray,
Studying about that good old way,
And who shall wear the robe and crown –
Good Lord, show me the Way.(1)

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!(2)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.(3)

REFERENCES

1. “Down to the River to Pray” by G.H. Allan and Alison Krauss, 1867 & 2000
2. Psalm 51:1-2 ESV
3. Psalm 51:10-13 ESV