River of Transformation

In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.

He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. [. . .] Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:1–9, 12 NLT)

I picked up my phone again and felt the unrest build in me as I looked at my social media feed. Another caustic comment thrown into a discussion that multiplied into more caustic comments, offense taken, and positions entrenched. Ugly words abound, with everyone sure they are more right than the next. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I wonder why I ever read comments like that; I always walk away feeling worse.

But then I read this passage from Ezekiel that speaks about a river. This river flows from the temple of God, and everything it touches is transformed. It may start small, but it increases in depth and fosters growth by producing vegetation and food. Everything in and around it becomes fresh, bountiful, fruit-bearing, healing to anyone who uses it. It multiplies life and wholeness, bringing dead things back to life. When I read this, I feel the impact of this river from the temple of God’s dwelling changing everything it touches, always toward life and abundance, healing and goodness. This biblical picture is a good one.

What about you? What have you touched today? Who have you spoken to, written to, prayed for? What have you worked on or physically touched? What kind of life, hope, and peace have you imparted in that touch? In 1 Corinthians 6:9, we are reminded that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and thus it would follow, like this passage in Ezekiel, that something is flowing from us. If it is led by, and infused with, the Holy Spirit, it can’t help but be life-giving, transforming to anyone who is around us. John 7:38–39 further affirms that living water flows from within us through our belief in Jesus.

My touch should reflect God’s River of transformation, in me and coming through me. If it doesn’t reveal that, I’m drawing and pouring from a source that is not him and it won’t bring life. It’s such an important call for us as followers of Jesus. I can’t help but think of C. S Lewis’s book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, where the queen’s touch made all living things around it become icy stone but the breath of Aslan brought those stone statues back to life. This is our invitation.

Brothers and sisters, what source is pouring from you today? Is your touch bringing peace and wholeness? His invitation comes to you again: draw from the Living Water and let his life change everything you touch for his Kingdom purposes.
Christine Okken is the executive assistant to Dr. Harry Kelm.