The Thames is full of ugly water; murky, dark, and mud green. In summer the color shifts a bit, turn more of a light mud brown, and winter roils on the dark side. During the spring rains, the color is especially intense – and it is easy to conclude that no living things could ever survive. In actual truth, the Thames was almost a dead river. Centuries of pollution continued to take a toll until scientists could only find one or two species of fish still surviving. Now, after two plus decades of clean-up, there are now more than 240 species of fish and water creatures living in the Thames! The river may not look any different from the outside, but things are very different inside! The old is gone. Fresh spring, summer, fall, and winter rains now run their course to the sea with a minimal amount of human interference.
I walked along the Thames and saw more of my self than I would ever care to admit. There was little that was compellingly attractive; even the buildings that grace the banks are a mixture of bizarre design and styles! The flow of the river suggested that something other than gravity controlled its movements; sea tides dictate the speed and height of the river. Pollution looks like it was continuing to take a toll with tires, shopping carts, and strange objects sticking themselves up to the sky during an ebb tide. I could not see inside the river and so found it hard to believe that anyone or anything could actually survive inside.
I sense others wondering about my walk and yours. On the outside, we are spiritual Thames. What they do not know is this. “You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.” (Romans 6.12) We are not dead, no matter what we look like on the outside! The Spirit lives in us, God’s beautiful gifts of grace are all around us, and God continues to shape the direction and intent in our lives because of our relationship with him.