My older brother and I used to dam up the creek in the woods near our house (what did you think I meant?). The woods were hilly so the creek was swift. The soil was heavy with clay and perfect for plugging spaces between the “boulders” we would tumble into the water to form our makeshift dams. It was so much fun!
We loved making the dams; but even more, we loved destroying them (hey, we were boys!) and then running along the bank of the creek as the pent up waters raced to catch up with their appointed destiny downstream. We could delay the water with our little dams, but we couldn’t thwart it for long. If we hadn’t torn our dams down, the water would have as the pressure back stream built up.This is a reality of the spiritual life, too.
The “water” in you is the Holy Spirit given life. It wants to flow! Jesus says that “out of [your] heart will flow rivers of living water,” carrying you out into your appointed destiny downstream. Note that the life in you is not just “a river” (that would be good enough), but “rivers” (that is simply sensational!).
However, there is an enemy who loves to build dams. Like my brother and I, but with far less playful intent, the evil one ever seeks to dam up the flow of the Lord’s Spirit in us. All nine delicious-tasting fruit of God’s Spirit (love, joy, peace…) are already present in us just wanting to flow in freedom. But something blocks us, allowing only a trickle of new life to pass through our hearts into the day.
Often the enemy builds his dams with past damage: he tumbles hurt, pain, injustice into us through unwanted events, then packs them into place with the miry clay of his demented perspective on how to deal with the damage he inflicts: “don’t forgive,” “stay afraid,” “never trust again,” “no one loves you,” etc. It’s all a pack of lies!
As new born Christians we often experience such an overflow of His Spirit that we are lifted above these dammed-up places and mistakenly believe they have been carried away forever! Later, blocked and stymied by these dams, we may feel like brackish ponds, unable to flow, without an ounce of Holy Spirit’s life moving in us.
Never buy into either one of these twisted perspectives. We will always have some buried issues waiting to break the surface that we will need to learn how to carry as captives to Christ. But we will always have the Holy Spirit flowing in us (even if it seems like only a trickle) and interceding within us to gain greater liberty.
Learn to be equally prepared to rejoice when the water runs free, and to labor when the blockages arise. Eventually, you will see that even as one river of new life in you is thwarted (for the moment), another is surging forward! Keep those rivers flowing!
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37-39 ESV
For more on unblocking the river of life see Mending the Broken Heart