Turning still waters into powerful rapids

Turning still waters into powerful rapids, Jeff Struecker

In my community, there is a powerful white water rapids course. The Columbus whitewater rapids have become one of the main adventure destinations for the southeastern part of the United States. This more than 3-kilometer stretch of the Chattahoochee River contains Class II and III whitewater rapids. 

Routinely, spectators from my community watch these thrill seekers navigate the Cut Bait Rapids from the safety of Wave Shaper Island.  This length of river brings in tourists from far and wide.

The sheer power of these whitewater rapids is impressive, and it’s almost impossible not to be inspired by the power of this river.

Now, Lake Oliver is a different kind of tourist destination just a few kilometers away from this whitewater course. This 740 square meter lake attracts anglers and recreational boaters. Lake Oliver is the perfect spot to have a picnic or a lazy day on the lake. 

When faith becomes stagnant

These two bodies of water couldn’t be more different from one another.  And this should blow your mind: They’re on the same river!  Both Lake Oliver and Columbus Whitewater come from the same source.

The only thing that separates these two bodies of water on the same river is a man-made dam where this concrete span blocks the Chattahoochee River, which created Lake Oliver.  It controls the amount of water that is allowed to flow downstream.


After the water escapes this dam, it begins to flow over the rocks and through the gorge that make up the rest of this magnificent river. The difference this dam makes on this river couldn’t be greater.  Just stand between Lake Oliver and Columbus Whitewater if you want to see what happens when this powerful force of nature is restricted.

Open the floodgates in your life

I’m convinced that religion always blocks the power of God from working through men and women whom he has called to himself. As I examine the lives of men, I see many that have been stifled by religion.  Their lives and their hearts look stagnate next to the powerful lives that Jesus designed for his people to live.

I’m convinced that Jesus came to throw wide open the floodgates of power in the hearts of his people, and I’m convinced of this from an event that happened in the Bible.

Acts chapter 3 describes an incident when Jesus’s followers healed a man who had been born with a birth defect. This event was considered humanly impossible. Many people in Bible times actually believed that even God couldn’t heal someone who was born with a physical defect.

When Peter and John challenged this crippled man to get up and walk, it sent shockwaves across the faith community in Jerusalem. As you can imagine, news of this event flowed like whitewater.  Quickly the religious leaders learned of this event, which led to one of my favorite conversations in the entire Bible. 

Slow and boring versus wild and exciting

These religious leaders asked Peter and John a question that every human being needs to consider in Acts 4:7: “By what power or in what name have you done this?” 

This question is loaded with spiritual significance. The religious leaders could not dispute the fact that something very powerful had just happened. They are then intent to find out where this source of power comes from.

I believe the High Priest and these religious elites are confronted with whitewater rapids-like faith when they examine the miracle that God had just done through Jesus’s disciples. This miracle turns there safe, stagnate faith on its ear. 

The world was watching when Peter and John shared the power that enabled this crippled man to walk away. As a result, these religious leaders are confronted with raw whitewater-like power that they have never seen before. These religious leaders want answers.  They ask Peter and John two specific questions and get two answers that they are not expecting and certainly don’t want to hear. 

In order to leave no room for confusion, Peter answers these two questions with one name in Acts 4:10.  Peter wants these religious leaders and everyone in Israel to understand that the power to do the impossible resides exclusively with the Lord Jesus Christ. His name alone has the power to cause a man born crippled to stand.

I am convinced God wants your faith to be as wild and exciting as whitewater rapids.  I believe that God still does miracles like this today, and I believe that God still acts powerfully in and through the lives of his people when they are willing to be a conduit for his Holy Spirit.

Unfortunately, I often see people who have dammed up the power of God and are living a boring, placid faith. 

The only difference between Lake Oliver and Columbus Whitewater is a natural barrier that’s stopping this river from flowing. The only difference between a slow, boring faith and a wild, exciting ride with Jesus is the limits that you and I place on the Holy Spirit. Don’t block the power of God. Don’t exchange the thrilling life of allowing Jesus to work through you for an attempt to control your circumstances.  

A prayer

Let the words of Phillip Brooks, the 19th Century rector of Trinity Church in Boston, inspire you to enjoy the wild ride of the Christian faith. “O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.[1]

If you want to learn more about allowing the power of Jesus’s Spirit to flow through you, check out my recent sermon about the effect of  One Step Forward.


[1] Brooks, Philip. “Going up to Jerusalem”, Twenty Sermons (1886), p. 330.

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