Swimming in a Different River – Part I

“Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” II Corinthians 5:17 (The Message).


My husband and I attended a lecture given by Steven Osterhout, DC, regarding health and nutrition. The entire presentation was enlightening, but what stuck out to me was one particular concept. He used an analogy of a fish in a polluted river. He pretended he found a fish living in a toxic environment who had developed cancer. He rescued the fish, cut out the cancer, fixed it up, and spent time and money healing the fish. However, it would be silly to return the fish to the same river only for the cancer to grow back. No, he was going to take the fish to a different river, one that wasn’t polluted or toxic, so it could stay healthy. He said the same was true for a person. In order to get and stay healthy, we have to change our eating habits, start an exercise routine, and flush out the toxics and pollutants that are making us sick. However, once our bodies begin to function at a healthy level, if we go back to “swimming in the same river” we came out of, we will eventually get sick again. We need to change the river where we swim.

That got me thinking about my spiritual journey. When I struggle with a spiritual truth, if I ask for forgiveness and show true remorse but my river doesn’t change, how can I expect to experience true freedom?

Take for instance self control. This is an area I’ve struggled with for too long. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food for years. There have been periods in my life where I’ve experienced freedom with food, but it hasn’t lasted. Going to the above lecture gave added insight into why the victory I experienced was temporary. I hadn’t changed my river. I may have temporarily altered my river, manipulated the river, or taken a vacation in a new river, but a complete change of residence hadn’t occurred. I’d confessed, shown remorse, and vowed to God I would change my habits and lifestyle, but without a complete overhaul in my thinking, the changes were only temporary.

I can’t expect to master self control with food when I don’t give my body time to eliminate foods that cause cravings. I can’t expect to have permanent victory in this area if I’m constantly tempting myself with rich, creamy desserts, fattening meals, or eating out at my favorite restaurant and choosing less-than-healthy dishes or portions.

If I want to experience lasting freedom in this area, I need to make the change to a new river permanent. That might look like celebrating special occasions with a hike or playing a game outside instead of going out to eat ice cream. Enjoying a bonfire with the family without having to indulge in S’mores. Replacing the sugary snacks in our household with healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Enjoying the occasional splurge but making it a special occasion, with portion control, instead of a free-for-all “just because.”

Next time we’ll discover what helps me maintain the healthier environment.

© 2013 Cheri Swalwell



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