Lately I’ve been seeing the number 47 everywhere. Yesterday I saw it on the clock 6 different times. I’ve been thinking about this chapter in Ezekiel for quite some time, and I think the two correlate.
The River From the Temple
1 The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east)…. 3 As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits[a] and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. 4 He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. 5 He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. 6 He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. 8 He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. 9 Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea…. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”
I suppose this passage, like most other passages of scripture, can be interpreted many different ways. It’s one of the most beautiful and frustrating things about when God speaks; he’s so cleverly specific but abstract all at the same time. One sentence can mean a hundred different things. I have learned not to be disappointed when a word from God doesn’t happen, because when I look back at said word, I realize I am the one who interpreted it incorrectly. But I digress.
I’ve read the book of Ezekiel before but I really understood this passage better after I read a fantastic book written by Heidi Baker called, “Birthing The Miraculous.” Her whole theme was about being so submersed in God that you can do nothing apart from him. She is a missionary in Africa, who’s been through some extremely crazy things, but her life goal is to bring 1 million children to Christ. When I first read her book, I didn’t necessarily want to be a missionary to any remote country, but I did (and still do) want to be so fully submersed in God that he becomes the very air I breathe. I wanted what she had but wasn’t sure how to go about it.
This past few years have been extremely hard. And every year is a different kind of hard than the previous. This last summer, I was so incredibly down that I felt like I was drowning in depression, amongst other things. One morning my mom asked me how I was doing and I told her that I felt like I was drowning. “That’s interesting that you mention that,” she said, “because last night I had a dream that you did drown.” I could tell she was pretty upset.
The next morning I was at prayer meeting and while trying to keep it together, my sister’s father-in-law, who I greatly respect, looked at me and said, “you may feel like you’re drowning in a negative way, but I think it’s a good way. Like in Ezekiel, the river gets so deep that he can’t cross. That’s the river of God that we need to be in, way over our heads.”
I thought of Heidi’s book that I had read and realized that he was right. Extremely hard times should bring us closer to Him. They’re what pull us under and closer. They’re what bring us closer to his heart.
The other day someone asked me, “doesn’t God want us to be happy?” Yes and No. Yes he wants us to be happy, but not by making our outward circumstances better. It’s a life-long process but I know for myself, I need to learn to be happy in whatever situation I’m in. Joyful or dire. And to be only happy if I’m completely yielded to him and his will for me, no matter what it is.
Marriage is really hard. Blending a family is really hard. Loving on and pouring into all of my family members unconditionally, genuinely yet all differently is proving to be impossible. I can’t do it on my own. I constantly, every minute of the day, need Jesus. I really am in way over my head.
Fruit grows in our hard times. Along the banks of the river is where it is the best place for trees to grow. The death from the Dead Sea becomes alive once the fresh water touches it. The life the fresh water gives is imminently everywhere. And not just the ankle or knee deep fresh water; the deep, over our heads, impossible to cross water. The water that is so deep, where the only footing we could catch is His.
Being completely submersed, in over our heads, doing the impossible is right where God wants us. We’ve completely let go of our own insecurities, our own wants and desires, our own everything. We’ve been crucified with Christ, which means we have died to what our flesh wants. When our flesh wants to get angry, annoyed, offended, etc., we instead forget about our feelings and pour even more of ourselves out, showing unconditional love. When our flesh doesn’t want to stand for truth or wants to water down the gospel, we instead hold on to truth, to the word, like never before, and lovingly share our convictions.
Instead of the ‘me’ message the world preaches, we do the opposite, and it in, find life. We die to live, we give without expectation, but somehow receive anyways, we love because he first loved us. We drown in God’s river, so to speak, so we can be full and overflowing in him. We do the impossible, because he’s asked us to.