Learn from the River

A river is a large natural stream of fresh water which is flowing. The flow is usually from a higher ground down a slope and towards another river, an ocean, a lake, or other large body of water. There are some lessons we can learn by observing a river. Here are a few of such lessons:


The existence of a river shows clearly that there is a creator of the earth and all things in it. The Bible says in Psalm 24:1, 2 that the Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell in it, for He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters. Science has not been able to create an atom of water. There is no man-made water. Most river headwaters begin in hills or mountain. Sources could be glacier, spring or overflow of a lake. As the river flows downstream, it gains more water from other streams, rivers, springs, added rainfall, groundwater recharge and other water sources.

One Directional Flow

The river flows consistently in the down slope direction. It doesn’t flow down the slope for a while and then change direction to flow upslope. We as God’s children must also be forward looking. The good and the bad of the past must not be allowed to make us lose our focus of the future and Lord. There are some who concentrate so much on their past lives of sin that they feel nothing good can come out of their lives again. Some others keep on basking in the glory of something good they did in the past without realizing that the oil of anointing is dry on them. Both extremes are not scriptural. We must be focused on Christ, looking on to [Him] the author and finisher of our salvation. Our faith in God must be a dynamic one. A dynamic faith is faith that is constantly exercised since faith without works is dead. (Jas 2:20)

Endurance and Perseverance

It may sound funny to say rivers endure and persevere but it appears they do. Rivers courses are not always straight, there are obstacles. Rivers don’t get daunted by obstacles but they move on despite them, overrunning obstacles where they can with the swiftness and volume of water. In other cases, they meander round the obstacles and create beautiful sceneries. So also must we not be daunted by obstacles but we should use them as launching pads to reach greater heights.


Unlike lakes and ponds which are stagnant, a river is always flowing, gaining fresh supplies of water from the source and groundwater recharge. Thus river water is always fresh. In the same way Jesus says; Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing (Jn 15:4, 5). The stem of the Vine is the source of sap which the branch needs for nourishment and fruitfulness. As a river would dry up if cut off from the source, so a believer cannot be fruitful if he cuts off from Jesus, such branch, Jesus says shall be burnt with fire. We need a constant link up with God our father through the study of his word, prayer, praises and other spiritual exercises like fasting and preaching. This makes us to walk in the Spirit and retain freshness.

Dynamic Activity

Whether shallow or deep, in low tide or high tide, in dry season or rainy season, the river flows so long as the source still supplies. The river cannot suddenly stop flowing. The same river cannot be fresh and at the same time give salty water. So also must a disciple of Jesus not be idle or slack. Christ says that the world will know his disciples by the love they show. Christianity is a way of life and not religion. The following are the characteristics of love, as Paul wrote in 1 Cor 13:4-8 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endure all things. Love never fails. All these are the fruits by which a child of God is known just as flowing identifies a body of water as river.

Not a Closed System

The river is not a closed system else it becomes a lake and the water stale. Rivers flow into other rivers, lakes or the sea. So also a child of God is not an isolated entity but is necessarily a component member of the body of Christ, called church. Each believer has a ministry or service that the Holy Spirit enables them to perform for the edification of the entire body of believers. As a river is also joined by other smaller rivers (tributaries) and other sources of water like rainfall and groundwater recharge, so also we need inputs of others in our lives. We need each other, no one is an island.

Environment Affecting

The presence of a river anywhere is noticeable in the lush vegetation. Animals come near to quench their thirst in the heat of the day. Human activities like farming, irrigation, fishing, bathing and washing among others are also made possible by the presence of the river. For very large rivers, one may notice the construction of dams, bridges and canals which enhances the economy of the area. A river’s presence in an area is a blessing and cannot go unnoticed. So also God has called his children to shine as light in the world. Jesus says in Mt 5:14-16: You are light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under the basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven. The grace of God in the life of a believer must be a blessing to others who must be fed and nourished from the overflow of his heart.


In the heat of the day, vapor rises from the surface of the river as well as other bodies of water, up into the firmament to form clouds. When the clouds become so heavy and swollen with water, they fall back into the earth as rain, giving the river much water. Here we also learn that it is profitable for us to sow seeds; seeds of love to humanity and through this we spread the word of God. “But whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1Jn 3:17) If you don’t love your neighbor who you see how can you say you love a God that you have not seen?

Enduring Discipline

The river subjects itself to necessary human activities like straightening and dredging of the channels to make it more useful for humanity and the environment. Here we learn of the need to endure pains of discipline as they are deemed necessary by the Lord. Pains of sufferings and trials enhance our growth to maturity such that we become better persons through the experience. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? (Heb 12:7) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb 12:11)