Living Downstream

Gene H. Miller

We all live downstream. That's a phrase used by environmentalists to make us aware of the impact our actions today have on our lives tomorrow. What we throw away today has to land somewhere. Somewhere ... somehow ... some day we are going to have to deal with it, because We All Live Downstream. Environmentalists sometimes get carried away with their ideas, but they do make a very important statement here. What I did yesterday is affecting the quality of my life today: the career I prepared for ... the food I put into my body ... the habits I formed ... the ideas I developed ... the attitudes I molded ... the person I married ... the children we raised ... all have an impact on my life today, because today I am Living Downstream.

A Lesson Learned. I learned that lesson by experience many years ago. A little creek called Tanner's Fork ran just behind the house where I grew up. Sometimes Tanner flooded, and we liked to throw rocks at cans that were floating down the stream. "Sink the Bismarck!" Dad would never let us throw rocks at bottles, but Dad wasn't always around. One spring I was washing May apple root in the creek, dreaming about all the money I was going to make when I took it to the little country store just up the road. I stepped on a piece of glass and cut a pretty good gash between a couple of toes. One still has no feeling on the underside. I learned what it meant to Live Downstream.

Sowing Wild Oats. Sometimes we use that phrase to excuse the shenanigans of young people. You cannot sow wild oats and reap wholesome wheat. You cannot plant zucchini and reap watermelon. Paul said it best: "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7). One day we must all stand downstream and deal with the trash we have thrown into our River of Life.

The Prodigal Son. One of the best loved parables of Jesus illustrates the concept of Living Downstream. After leaving the father's house, he reached the point in his life when he had to deal with the trash he had been throwing in the stream. Isn't that the story of each of us? We are born in a state of innocence, in the Father's House. Sin separates us from God, and we abide for a time in the far country. Like the son in the parable, we must Recognize our wretched condition, Resolve to Repent and Return simply as a servant. Only then can we be Reconciled, Re-clothed with Righteousness, and Restored to the Father's house.

The Good News. Trash that is carried to a proper landfill and covered will never have to be dealt with again. "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Romans 4:7). Sins covered by the blood of Christ will never have to be dealt with again. How do you and I contact that blood that covers our sin? The night Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, He said, "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matthew 26:28). On the Day of Pentecost, Peter told the assembly, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38). Contradiction? Jesus said one thing, Peter another. Could it be that Jesus spoke of the power and Peter spoke of how to contact the power? Repentance and Baptism does the exact same thing for us that the Blood does. There must be a relationship. John tells us further that if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus keeps on cleansing us of sin. (1 John 1:7).

Trash properly disposed of will never have to be dealt with again. -HC 84 Box 80, Shock, WV 26638-9502. 304-462-0384.

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