I was walking along the creek at my church a few weeks ago observing some of God’s wonderful creation. I watched a few frogs jump in, protecting their tadpoles from a newfound threat, I suppose. I watched a snake, well, snake its way downstream. I observed the flow of the creek, the structure of the banks, and the trees growing around it. But there was one thing on that particular day that got me thinking.
As I walked the opposite way of the water, I came upon a wide spot in the creek. There, most of the water was nasty, with odd bubbles and a much darker tint. Stagnant water. I began to ponder the stagnant water (bear with me, I sound like a hippie) and how it relates to the Christian life.
See, in the Christian life, we ought always to be moving forward. That is the natural progression of the water, and it should be our natural progression as we gain more knowledge of God and His Word and learn to love Him more. But that’s not always the case. Often, the Christian life becomes stagnant. What causes stagnation, and what are the consequences of it?
I look at where the stagnant water ended. There were large clumps of grass (from mowing, I’d assume) that were damming up a good portion of the creek. Any time something is stagnant, there is a cause of it. When you look back to the source of the lack of movement, you’ll find the original problem that created a greater problem. In living for God, it is easy to put something ahead of Him that blocks us from moving forward for Him. This source problem could be sin: bitterness, contempt, jealousy, alcohol, drugs, pornography- you name it. Or it could be something good, such as various ministries that we attempt without God’s power and direction. Perhaps it is a lack of time spent with God. It all boils down to us thinking we can do something without God or without God seeing- pride. Either way, it is foolish and impossible.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” –John 15:5
“The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” –Proverbs 15:3
There is always something specific that is keeping even those most desirous of serving God from moving forward for Him. If there’s stagnation in your life, something is causing it.
Have you noticed the difference in stagnant water from the rest of the water? Stagnant water is much murkier. Stagnation causes darkness and clouds out clarity. When your life is stagnant, it causes darkness. The clearness of God’s truth is shielded by a life and mind that is growing ever-darker. Instead of seeing what is around you, you now see it through a tint. Used to, things that were dark, things that seems wrong, were able to be seen for what they were. Now they appear to match everything around you. Things that are pure are harder to see. Even what is good has a dark layer around it. If your life is stagnant, you’re missing God’s clarity for your own darkness.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” –I John 1:5-7
“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” –John 3:18-21
There is one final thing to realize about stagnation. As I continued to walk by the creek against the current, I saw that the stagnant water backed up for about 50 feet. I also noticed that, slowly but surely, more water was backing up. When the clumps of grass first fell in the creek, it would have seemed harmless. Sure, there’s something there to block part of the creek, but what’s the big deal? There’s a foot of water behind the grass: it’s not a problem. But then water continued to back up. And it will continue to back up. When the source of your stagnation first makes its presence known, it doesn’t seem like a problem. It’s only slowing forward progress a little bit. But the longer the problem is there, the more of a mess it makes. The murkier things get. No sin is harmless. (Because doing something “good” apart from God is also sinful.) It may seem that way at first, but the longer it’s there, the worse things get.
“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” –James 1:15
So how do you correct stagnation? Simple. Go to the source. Not all the problems it has caused, but the source sin(s) that is causing the stagnation. And get it out of the way. Stop it at the source. When the source is freed, everything will begin to move forward again. As it should be. If you want to do things for God, as I trust we all do, you must be rid of stagnation. To be rid of stagnation, you must go back to the source of it.
“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” –Proverbs 24:16