Today the picture I have in my mind’s eye is of the sluice gates in a canal lock gate, (which I shall refer to as the paddles from now on). This is going to be like a pictorial P.S. to yesterday’s blog. So, if you can, imagine that you are in a canal boat going up in a lock. You are in quite a tight place with very little view. Just brick walls to left and right, and big wooden gates to the front and the back. Unless you or someone else opens the paddles in the gate in front of you, no water will enter your lock and you are not going to get up to the level of the higher water the other side of the lock gate. Basically you will not be going anywhere, anytime soon.
We don’t have a crane with which we could lift the boat out of the lock and up to the next level of canal, nor do we have the strength or capacity to push the gates open against the weight of water, in order to let that same water in. It would appear that we are potentially stuck. The paddles are the openings in the gates, often below the surface of the water. It is through these, when they are opened, that the water enters the lock.
If those paddles are opened and the water allowed to rush in, you, in your boat, will rise quite quickly and effortlessly up to the level of the next stretch of canal water. When these paddles are opened, even if the water comes in slowly at first, that boat and the people in it, without question, will be lifted up by the water until it is be possible to open the lock gates. Then apart from being able to leave the confines of the lock and go on your way, you will suddenly be able to see all around you, the things and the scenery that were quite invisible before.
The parallels are numerous. We are the boat, (or in the boat), the water represents the Holy Spirit carrying us along the path of life, and the lock represents a challenge that comes our way in life. The situation can seem like the lock – a bit of a tight place – with very little view, or perspective, on the way forward. And there before us is the seeming impossibility. How we are going to move past this place in which we find ourselves.
The lock may represent a difficult situation, or relationship or a decision that needs to be made, where we are feeling stuck. We know that we need the Holy Spirit flowing into us and through our minds and hearts in order to be able to move through our difficulty and onward in life. So what are the parallels, in our life, that keep the paddles shut, and what can we do to open them in order to allow the Holy Spirit to flow in and help us.
In yesterday’s blog we were looking at those things that grieve the Holy Spirit, the things that, in this picture of the lock, keep Him locked out of our situation, and unable to flow freely into our lives to bring His wisdom, grace and strength. This would be things like unbelief, criticism, gossip, unforgiveness, in fact anything that is negative towards ourselves, others or God Himself. These things keep those paddles tight shut, preventing us from being carried forward by the Holy Spirit. So what can we do to open those paddles again? What will start the Holy Spirit freely flowing into our lives, and yes, it’s the key of thanksgiving again!!
The parallels are a bit endless here, because anyone who has ever tried to open the paddles with a lock key will know that they can be a bit stiff to start with, and sometimes giving thanks can feel a bit like hard work until we get going, but those paddles only have to be a little bit open and the water will start to move into the lock and start raising the boat.
This, as you can imagine, is not a rushed job. It is not like leaving the traffic lights, revving the car and going from 0 to 60 in a few seconds. Letting the water rise needs patience, and sometimes when we turn our hearts to thanksgiving in a situation we need some patience and persistence before we can move on from that lock.
The final parallel is, that having raised the boat to the next level of water, apart from being able to move on we will have gained a new perspective on our situation, and perhaps that is the most important thing of all. Thanksgiving will enable us to rise up to see things, our situation and other people the way God sees them.