A River Ran Through It

My wife and kids and I were visiting her parents in Grand Junction Colorado a couple years ago and took a short drive together to a place called Rifle Falls during our visit. The view of the mountains was breathtaking and I couldn’t stop commenting on it the entire way. I had asked her dad if he ever got tired of looking at mountain ranges, to which his happy reply was “No way!”

One range of mountains that caught me off guard was the one I have pictured in this post. One side brown and desolate, the other green and full with life. I tried to think logically of a few reasons for the sharp contrast only meters away from the other: natural challenges, God’s design, or which side faced the dawn.

The answer was much simpler than that. My father in law said “…a river ran through it.”

A passage from Psalm 1 came to mind.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:1-4 (NLT)

I like John MacArthur’s comments on this passage. “From the perspective of the individual, this is a deep-seated joy and contentment in God; from the perspective of the believing community, it refers to redemptive favor. The “beatitude” man (Mt 5:3–11) is first described as one who avoids such associations with things that exemplify sin’s sequential downward drag.”

Old Spurgeon says, “And he shall be like a tree planted”—not a wild tree, but “a tree planted,” chosen, considered as property, cultivated and secured from the last terrible uprooting, for “every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up:” Matthew 15:13. “By the rivers of water;” so that even if one river should fail, he hath another. The rivers of pardon and the rivers of grace, the rivers of the promise and the rivers of communion with Christ, are never-failing sources of supply. His leaf also shall not wither;” his faintest word shall be everlasting; his little deeds of love shall be had in remembrance. Not simply shall his fruit be preserved, but his leaf also. He shall neither lose his beauty nor his fruitfulness.”

The quantity and quality of the green produced in our own lives is not some patch wild piety, but a humble unrelenting dependence on all that God has for us in Jesus.

A river runs rich through the core of those who call on God from a pure and poor heart.

4 thoughts on “A River Ran Through It

  1. If you ever get to Washington state, take the interstate from the Tri-Cities (Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco) to Yakima. Just before reaching Yakima, you drive through a cut in a sage covered butte. You’d think that they did the cut to build the road and railroad, but it was the river. Sheer walls on either side of this narrow cut. They say when the glaciers melted, the water was held back until it literally burst its way to the sea. They usually are referring to the Columbia River Gorge, but I think that one cut is more impressive. And like your scene, there is desert south of the cut and lush vegetation leading to Yakima north of the cut.


  2. Good thoughts. Except, John Mac is apparently wrong and someone we shouldn’t listen to haha.

    My favorite part of Colorado is southwest—down near, in, and around Durango. The Animas River Valley and the surrounding town and wilderness are amazing and communicate this picture amazingly well, too.


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