I love to watch Bullock Creek this time of year. Earlier this week, we had a brief thaw; a good deal of our snow melted away, and we even had a decent rainfall at the same time. When those weather patterns combine, that means one thing for sure: Bullock Creek will be very high and will run very quickly. At this time of year, I get to watch the creek from my office window, since the church property sits right on its edge.
While I was working on this week’s sermon, I gazed out at the water. To my surprise I saw two ducks, a male and a female, swimming upstream in search of food. Near the bank, the female was rustling through the brush. Just a couple of feet away, the male was holding his position in the water; apparently, he was watching for predators or other threats. As the female worked her way up the edge of the river, the male kept pace with her, always staying even with her as she progressed upstream.
Then I realized: this was no easy task for these two ducks. The high water of Bullock Creek was moving very quickly – from my human perspective, let alone from a duck’s perspective! All the melted snow and collected rainfall was rushing downstream, past a few large chunks of ice that had not yet melted away, and toward the creek’s passage under Homer Road. To hold their position in such a cold, fast-moving stream must have required a great deal of effort. Even though his upper body showed no stress, I was sure that the mallard was kicking hard with his legs to keep up with his mate.
One of the passages of scripture that we will read in church this coming Sunday is Philippians 3:4b-14. This is one of this week’s lectionary readings, meaning many Christians around the world are scheduled to read it this week. And this passage happens to be one of my favorite texts; it has meant a great deal to me for many years. The final verse of this passage reads, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (NIV).
Often, people argue that the Christian faith is just spiritual self-help without much influence on everyday life. But just like our neighborhood ducks had to work hard to overcome the power of the creek’s current, so we must press on in our walks with Christ to overcome the current of sin, which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1-3). We may wish that our lives were as calm and serene as the mallard’s upper body, but in truth the walk of faith requires what the mallard was doing underwater: action, motion, movement, energy, work, and even missteps. (He did stumble once or twice – on occasion he’d ruffle a wing to keep his balance.)
Friends, let us press on to become more like Jesus Christ. Curious about what that means? Let’s talk.