The Two Currents of Kingdom
March 23, 1988
The Lord has been teaching me about rivers—about how rivers have two currents. There is the surface current, and there is the undercurrent.
The surface current of a river is the current you see as you stand on the bank. It is tumultuous and filled with floating debris. It is hurried, moving along rapidly, churning as it goes, swirling with sticks and grass and even dead fish.
Also, it is subject to weather conditions—to storms, which aggravate it and make its waters choppy. The surface current is also affected by boats which zoom along for an instant and are gone, leaving wakes and ripples behind them. In short, the surface current is subject to unpredictable change and is unstable.
But the undercurrent is different. It lies under the surface current and can’t be seen. And though it is part of the same river, its characteristics are totally different. The undercurrent is unhurried. It is stable. It is not moved by the things that touch the surface. It is slower than the surface current, but far more sure of carrying anything in it to its destination.
In fact, it is actually the under-current that governs the course of the river. (For all its frothy appearance, the surface current has nothing to do with the river’s course.) The undercurrent carries no debris or trash. Instead, it is teeming with hidden life—the life of myriads of fish and plant life and water creatures which feed predictably at the bottom.
These two currents are a picture of the Kingdom of God—yes, the Church. The Church has two currents, one is visible, one is hidden; one is full of tumult, one is deeply quiet; one is a carrier of debris and trash and dead fish, the other is a home for life; one thinks that for all its activity, it is the governor of the Church’s course, the other in its hidden estate however is the one that carries the life to its destination and not to shipwreck on the rocks.
First Expectations and Disappointments
When we first come into the Kingdom, we come in at the surface. We come in where the Church is seen and active. We come in unaware of the tow currents. All we know is that there is life in the river, and so we jump in.
But after awhile, we begin to get frustrated with life at the surface. We become aware of all the fleshly debris, the trash. We are carried about by the tumult--the division, the chaos. We are touched by the storms from above, and by the boats that zip by promising a fun ride, but leave nothing but a disturbed wake. We also see the many shipwrecks of life on the shore—people coming and going.
After a while on the surface, our disappointment with the Church as we see it leads us to wonder if we really made the right choice entering the kingdom. And yet, something within us assures us we did, but that the life we expected to find in the river just isn’t on the surface.
Diving and Resurfacing
Well, once we’re in the river, and we know its true life isn’t on the surface, then there’s only one direction to go to find it: down. But if we are to go down, it must be by faith, because from the surface, we can’t see what’s down there. It is dark, it is unknown. It means sacrificing our trust in our visible activity and the Church’s activity to really find that treasure in God’s People that Paul speaks of in Eph. 1:18.
Yet once we forsake the surface, get our diving gear on, and take the Holy Sprit’s searchlight with us, we find at the bottom everything we sought when we first entered the river.
But there’s more. Once we feed at the bottom awhile and take root, we find that God wants us to grow up from the river bottom like a tall, tall water lily—a lily whose head reaches the surface again! Only this time, by reaching the surface, we are no longer part of the surface, and we are instead a light on the surface for those still struggling on the surface to find the life on the bottom—a life we are now able to lead them to.
Discerning the Currents
Do you see the awesome picture this presents to us of the church? The visible surface current with its fleshly activity and noise and divisions is a great “sorting house.” Its waves sort out those who enter the river to find God from those who enter it for the wrong reasons.
Those who enter for the wrong reasons are taken away and shipwrecked in faith by the current. But those who enter to find God learn from the surface chaos that the surface is not “where it’s at,” and who in unquenchable thirst for God’s Truth make the plunge into the unknown depths to find Him.
But to do this, they have to release and be willing to part with the activity they first engaged and first thought to be the “cutting edge” of God’s work in the earth. Then later, after they have been unheard of from the depths for a while—maybe in a prison like Joseph, or in a desert like Moses--they rise to the surface once again, only this time to become a testimony to the true Life at the bottom, They point the way to Reality for those still floundering unrooted in the surface.
Remember, a buoy in a river always testifies by its immovability to something solid at the bottom.
Eventual Reversal of the Currents
Someday, unlike a river today, the Church’s currents will be reversed. Those who found the hidden undercurrent will shine forth as the manifested rulers in the Father’s Kingdom, while those who spent themselves for the flashy, fleshly surface current will be hidden away in the outer reaches of God’s Kingdom, away from His holy brilliance in outer darkness. There, without eyes developed to be able to stand the glory of His holiness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Even today, we are approaching that time when the currents will cross over upside down and the Father’s Kingdom will appear. Though hidden, the Church’s undercurrent has been on the ascendancy. And though still highly visible, the Church’s polluted surface current has been on the descendency. As the bad gets worse and the good gets better, the good shall soon overpower the bad, and the New Kingdom of righteousness shall appear.
Appreciating the Currents amid Ministry Disappointments
I have shared all this to say to you: if worse comes to worse, don’t be afraid to lose your job at the [ministry]. God is using your situation there to open your eyes to the truth about the surface current of Christianity. The true “action” is not where you have thought it to be. And God doesn’t want you to trust in the involvement you have maintained with the Church’s surface events and activities. He doesn’t want you to become overwhelmingly disappointed with what you are seeing so that you “shipwreck.” He wants to use it to spur you to find the Church’s true life in what is not seen.
But to do this, you have to come to a point of willingness to part with your surface involvement, to become “unknown” as He is, and to seek Him on the interior side of your life. (This is something you’ve already begun doing in a greater way because of your family trials. Now I’m telling you to expect it as well regarding the Church “at large.” Be prepared to become an “un-celebrity” or “ex-celebrity” relative to the visible Church if you want to find what God really has for you in life—and for his People.)
I’ll admit, this is hard to do. But it is the way of the true disciple. But the good news is, after you have “died” this way, you will “live” again. God will bring you back to the surface. Only then, you will know better. You’ll be free from all illusions of expectation concerning the surface. Then you will be able to point the way to like struggling saints, disappointed with the “raw deals” they get from the fleshly side of the Church. And you yourself will be rooted in the inexhaustible satisfaction of God’s Life found only in the undercurrent of spiritual life.
There. That is all I wanted to say. Consider this letter to be a “buoy” on the surface of your own life to help you find the way. This is the word of God.
written from Greenville, South Carolina
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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