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Friday, April 27, 2012

Swim with a Purpose

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-This will sound like a strange question to start off with, but let me ask you: Are you more like a salmon or a jellyfish?

Salmon begin their lives in the fresh water rivers of the frigid Northwest. Not long after they’re born they begin a long swim downstream. Their destination is the ocean. It is here that they spend the majority of their adult lives. Then something strange happens. Scientists don’t even understand how, but at some point the adult salmon begins to swim back home. Though they may have swum thousands of miles from that original river location they head back home. That’s right! They swim upstream, against the current of the river. You’ve probably seen nature programs on TV that show them leaping out of the water to overcome waterfalls and other barriers impeding their progress. They face predators like bears and people. Incredibly, though they’ve been gone for years many of them return to the exact spot where they were born. I saw a documentary on one determined salmon that even swam through a maze of pipes and nudged open a grate to re-enter the hatchery where it was born. After an incredible effort the fish spawn. The new salmon are soon born and repeat the process.

Does that describe you? Does your life have a destination? Are you going in a specific direction and are you willing to face all the obstacles to get there? If so, you’re a lot like the salmon.

Then there’s the jellyfish. There are numerous species of these yucky-looking little creatures. Some of them are tiny. Others have tentacles that can be measured in feet. Jellyfish are born in the ocean and die there too. They have limited movement, but never really use that ability to go in any particular destination. They’re moved along primary by the wind and waves and tides. They drift about stinging and surviving. Occasionally one will wash up on the beach and, if you’re not careful, you’ll step on it and mess up your vacation. I know!

Are you more like a jellyfish than a salmon? Do you just kind of float from here to there with no real purpose? The difference between salmon and jellyfish is the same as the difference between a lot of people. Some have a direction. Most just drift.

We’re about to go into a short series of sermons on the life of Samson. Sad to say, Samson often acted more like a jelly fish than a salmon. He was clearly created for a purpose and God’s great desire was to use him in spectator ways. However, Samson became a floater. And floating led him down a path of both spiritual and physical darkness.

The story does hold a triumphant ending, but also a sad ending. Samson forgot he was made for something special. The same is true of us all.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

[Ron Otto, Lincoln Christian Church]

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