The Call to Swim Upstream

One of the most fascinating occurrences in nature of which I have read is the migration of salmon.  This fish is born in freshwater rivers, spends most of its life in saltwater but returns to the river of its birth for spawning.  The challenge of this process is, in order to reach its destination, it must swim upstream; it must swim against the river’s current.

This is no easy feat for the salmon.  There are many obstacles such as rapids and debris in the path.  There are predators such as bear and sport fishermen intent on catching them.  The journey, itself, may be a few hundred miles in length.  All these challenges fight against the process, yet the determined salmon assume this task every fall.

I have been thinking a lot about swimming upstream; moving against the tide.  I have come to the conclusion this is not just behavior for the salmon, but it must become the lifestyle of the believer.  I understand the Christian walk has always been in opposition to the world, but today’s climate takes it to a brand-new level.  The words of Paul to the Romans have never been more important – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV)

The environment in which we find ourselves has become so corrupt and perverted.  The prophet, Isaiah, said there would come a time when men would “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV).  Paul told Timothy in the latter times “some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” 
(I Timothy 4:1-2 NKJV).  These two prophetic statements have become reality in our present culture.  We do, indeed, live in perilous and evil days.

The challenge for the church is how will we respond to these times.  It is an absolute fact everything we do must be rooted in love.  It is also true we must not be afraid to adjust and modernize our methods in order to experience our maximum effectiveness.  But…while we intentionally reach out to the world in love and use every means available to us to communicate the message, we must not fail to speak truth.  It is only when people know the truth that they will be set free.  (John 8:32)

The old adage “it is easier said than done” certainly comes into play here.  It is not easy – in fact, it is quite difficult – to stand against the crowd and boldly declare what the Holy Scriptures say.  It will never be popular to take a position against sin and the intimidation from the secular culture will be strong against those who do.  Media, entertainment, and perceived public opinion have drawn a line in the sand on the side of anti-Biblical lifestyles and behavior accusing those who oppose these narrow minded, bigoted and hatemongers. The challenge is real. 

To further complicate matters, many church leaders and members have chosen popularity and self-preservation over standing for Biblical truth.  To avoid offending anyone, an attitude of “go along to get along” has become the unspoken strategy.  Condoning error and sin is not the plan but avoiding the subject is.  Neutrality has become the position of choice. 

But…even with an awareness of the lay of the land, I seem to be hearing the Lord say, “I’m looking for some people to swim upstream!”  The call is going out for men and women to live holy lives in an unholy world and proclaim liberating truth to those bound by the lies of the devil.  The call is not to mean people or self-righteous people but to broken people – people with tear dimmed eyes – people moved by compassion.  The call is for people who realize this life is temporary, but eternity is forever.  Our Lord is calling…

This subject is stirring in my spirit.  I have been dreaming about it at night and meditating upon it during the day.  I believe God is calling me – not to the Familiar.2 – but to something fresh and more productive than I have ever experienced. This “new thing” God is wanting to do is going to require I leave my comfort zone and surrender to the call to swim upstream.  Some who have been with me may not go with me on this new journey.  Some things I have used in the past may need to be left behind this time.  Some things that have been important may not be now.  Whatever sacrifice or change is required, I must be willing to assume them. 

A couple of nights ago I woke up from a dream with the following outline clearly in my spirit.  I quickly wrote it down because I felt it was instruction for my journey upstream.  I believe this is what the Lord said to me:

1.  Stay Encouraged.  Events and situations around me may naturally cause discouragement.  It is during these times I must take personal responsibility for my attitude and outlook.  I Samuel 30:6 says David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.  David’s approach to his situation must be mine as well.

It has never been more important for me to stay in the Word and constantly practice walking in the Spirit.  His Word and presence will be my source of courage.  No one can keep me from this but me!  It is my responsibility to stay encouraged.

2.  Travel Light.  Sometimes I carry things that only serve to weigh me down.  Some things to which I have become attached serve no useful purpose in my mission – they take my time and energy but do not really help me on my journey.  It is probably time for some housecleaning and decluttering.

This is surely what the writer to the Hebrews was conveying when he said, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) I do not want to carry anything that hinders my progress.

3.  Do Not Be Afraid.  Fear is torment.  Fear is paralyzing. Fear is the exact opposite of faith.  Fear has a strong grip.

The devil is throwing the kitchen sink at us, today, as it relates to fear.  We are afraid of a virus.  We are afraid of rising crime rates.  We are afraid of an economy going the wrong direction.  We are afraid for our children’s future.  We are afraid for our own future.  The list goes on and on. 

The disciples learned the answer to the fear issue when they accompanied Jesus to the Mount of Transfiguration.  The events of that occasion caused them to fall down in fear.  At that moment “Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:7-8 NKJV).  They discovered when they looked to Jesus, they saw nothing to be afraid of.  I do not want to forget this simple lesson.

4.  Get Ready for Adventure. I think its interesting the word adventure was in my dream.  An adventure is an exciting experience or undertaking that is typically bold and sometimes risky. I am convinced this is exactly where God is calling us – to a place of bold moves that may appear risky to our flesh and friends but totally aligned with God’s will for our lives.

We have been praying – we need to keep praying.  We have been strategizing – there is nothing wrong with having a plan.  We have been dreaming – most things begin with a dream.  But, at some point, we have to leave the shore and step into the water. A stand has to be taken.  A side has to be chosen.

Some will not understand, and others will adamantly oppose, but if the Word says it – we will preach it and if the Holy Spirit directs – we will obey. We will hold to our convictions and seek to please the Lord in all we do. We are not seeking affirmation or promotion – we just want to be participants in what God has planned for these last days…even if it means swimming upstream!

10 thoughts on “The Call to Swim Upstream

  1. Feeling pressure and resistance reminds me I’m headed in the right direction, upstream!!

    Thank you Bishop this is a great help and confirmation to me!


  2. We used today truer words were never spoken which is so fitting for this blog. Lord, let me be a salmon in dry barren Henrietta, TX. Thank you Bro. Les for always being sensitive to the voice of God!

    Liked by 1 person

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