A father and his child walked together by the banks of the Yangtze River. They paused often to gaze at it in wonder. In the distance, they could hear the roar of a waterfall and they could see great clouds of mist rising far into the air. Soon they came to the edge of the chasm where the water plummets to a gorge far below. Approaching the bank of the river where the water is shallow and safe, they stopped and stooped so the father could dip a cup into the river. He held it toward his child and said, “Drink.” But just as the cup met the child’s thirsty lips, a voice boomed from the river and said, “Don’t drink! There’s not enough water for you. I am in danger of running dry.”
The missionaries had traveled far down the Amazon in a long, open river canoe. A local pilot guided the husband and wife safely through sections narrow and wide, deep and shallow. He led them safely to the point where they would disembark and begin their lives among a tribe that had never heard of Jesus and never had the opportunity to worship his name. When the boat finally nudged up against the bank of the river, they leaped ashore. Having unloaded their meager belongings, they watched the pilot turn and head back, their last link to the lives they had left behind. Taking a bucket, the wife dipped it and filled it and just as she began to pull it ashore, the river cried out, “You can take that, but no more. You can drink seldom, but not often. For my water is running out. This river is running dry.”
Stuff and nonsense, as they say. The world’s great rivers do not run dry. The world’s great rivers flow throughout the seasons. The world’s great rivers are never so low that they cannot sate the thirst of a parched traveler, never so dry that they cannot refresh the body of a weary wanderer. We can drink from them as often as we need to, refresh ourselves in their waters, irrigate our lands as much as necessary. They flow swiftly, they flow mightily, they flow endlessly. They flow like the grace of God. They flowed yesterday and they flow today and they will flow still tomorrow and through endless ages to come. They flow without end and always invite us to take and drink.
And so too the grace of God. We can always and forever approach God’s throne of grace and plead for mercy and grace to help in our time of need. We can plead for mercy that forgives when we have strayed and God will never turn us away, he will never fail to respond, he will never refuse to pardon us. We can plead for grace, grace to equip us to endure trials, to remain unbroken when tested, and to remain unsullied when tempted.
And that grace will never run out. We will never exhaust God with our coming to him, never tire God with our pleas for his help. We will never reach the end of his ability to assist or his capacity to intervene. We will never encounter an enemy that is beyond his power to defeat and never come into a situation that is beyond his power to overcome. He will never be bothered by our coming and he will never turn us away. If God utters any complaint at all, it is merely that we should have approached more often and more earnestly, that we should have drunk more freely of the waters and drunk more deeply.
“Drink!” say the great rivers of the world. “Drink until you are satisfied and then drink again. Drink without hesitation. Drink without concern. Drink without fear that you will exhaust these waters.” And “Approach!” says God. “Approach my throne and simply ask—ask for mercy, ask for grace, ask in your time of need, ask and ask again, and I will supply what you require. The Amazon will run dry long before you reach the end of my grace. The Yangtze will cry out for you to stop drinking of its waters before I will scold you for coming to me too frequently, too earnestly, too helplessly. So come and speak, come and plead, come and drink.”
Inspired by F.B. Meyer