I grew up on Lake Winnebago and the Fox River in Wisconsin, and spent every spring, summer and fall in, on or near the water. At Oshkosh, the Fox empties into the lake with tremendous power and multiple and quickly changing currents. I’ve taken boats out into this part of the lake many times, and I’ve even tried rowing against the flow as part of my exercise regimen. It’s exhausting and impossible to actually make progress because the flow of energy is insurmountable. Other times, I have taken a sailboat or canoe down the river itself and when the currents began to interfere with my rowing or sailing, I have simply surrendered to the awesome randomness of the water and allowed myself to be taken far out into the lake’s deepest waters.
The old expression, “go with the flow” is based in literal truth, but it’s a great metaphor for navigating through life as well. The divine flow that upholds us and guides us is overwhelmingly powerful-but it will never take us against our will. Instead, God waits for us to surrender to His wisdom before taking us to the exact place we need to be. The older I get (and the more exhausted I become trying to row against this current!) the more certain I am that God wants us to surrender to the current rather than struggle against it.
I am not quite old enough to have been a “hippie”, but I remember the end of that era as a young child. Going with the flow was an important value to the anti-establishment people of the time, and as a result, they were sometimes judged to be lazy or disinterested in life. That’s not what I’m talking about at all. Surrendering to the divine flow is anything but passive: it requires presence and the ability to merge one’s own inner flow with the larger divine flow. It doesn’t mean we simply throw away our oars and take a nap, hoping that everything will just work out like magic. Going with the flow means we let go of our individual agenda and pay attention to the movement of God’s energetic grace all around us. We can choose to tap into that energy and to merge ourselves into that divine flow, and when we do, we find we arrive at our destination much faster than when we resist.
Surrendering to the divine flow doesn’t mean we don’t know or care about where we are headed-it just means we are open to God showing us the many paths open to us. We may start out believing our destination is one thing, but come realize that in fact it needs to be somewhere else. Being aware, listening to the voice of God within and being willing to change accordingly are of more value than clinging to our own limited vision of how things were “supposed” to be.
Sometimes we are afraid of going with the flow because we don’t trust God enough to get us where we need to be. So we insert ourselves into the equation, clinging to plans that aren’t working, remaining on paths that are obstacle-free, and obsessing about relationships that aren’t healthy for us. When we find ourselves stuck in these kinds of patterns, we should try to remember to be open to the larger divine flow rather than trying to resist it. Trust the wide river of God’s grace, believe that God’s plan will be realized, and allow yourself to be carried into the future. And it never hurts to throw overboard a few of those things that are weighing you down!