Recently Nancy and I vacationed in the north woods of Minnesota.
For me, it was a dream come true; for my wife, it was an act of love toward her husband. On our first day of fishing, she seemed to revel in the fact that she caught the biggest fish: a twenty-seven-inch Northern Pike! We enjoyed a beautiful cabin on the shores of a beautiful lake and heard the enchanting call of the loons. As part of our trip, we went to Itasca State Park to see the headwaters of the great Mississippi River. What a beautiful place and amazing sight!
I have crossed the Mississippi just before it flows into the Gulf of Mexico in New Orleans. I have crossed the mighty river all along its length in Missouri, Iowa, and Tennessee; but only in Minnesota, could I wade across the great river of our nation. As it flows out of Lake Itasca, it is nothing more than a small stream. It is the beginning of what will grow into a mighty force that impacts dozens of states and millions of people. From a humble wading stream to the Mighty Mississippi! As I stood in the stream, I considered a spiritual lesson that I believe our generation needs: It takes time to grow!
I am a dreamer! I like to dream big, and I love to fancy that I can be used of the Lord to accomplish great things for His name. However, the ability to correctly wield great influence is something that develops when we are willing to be faithful when we have little influence. The writer of Proverbs said it this way:
Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
We are the instant generation; we want what we want, and we want it now! We think that spiritual maturity comes from a package, or that respect is what we can have after we microwave it. What we truly need is the discipline to wait on the Lord day by day, to seek His wisdom, and let Him add to our lives the understanding and skills that will ultimately give us influence.
As the Mississippi River leaves Lake Itasca and winds its way to the Gulf of Mexico, seven thousand rivers join with it to make it the mighty river that it becomes. We could mention great rivers like the Missouri, the Ohio, and the Colorado; but it is not just those great rivers we all know that make it what it is. Think of the Crow River, the Gull Lake River, the Chippewa, the Black, and the Cedar - even before it is far from its headwaters - and thousands of others. There is so much that must be added to that little wading stream to make it the mighty river it becomes.
Every day we have the opportunity for God to flow into our lives through His Word by the work of His Holy Spirit. Every morning we gain wisdom from His Word and allow Him through His teaching Spirit to help us grow through the experiences that our day will bring. But we must be humble and recognize our need of growth and submit to the times of humility that will allow us to be the mighty force for the Gospel that He desires us to be. It is our nature to want to be the mighty force at the beginning of everything, but it takes thousands of days in a lifetime of faithful seeking and submission to be the force we can become in Him. It does not mean that we are powerless at the start of ministry, but rather that life has a growth component. God adds to us through trials, victories, success and failure; and the mighty man seeks Him day by day, growing into the force only He can make us.
Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.