Brackish

“Brackish” is the word used to describe the water where fresh water coming down from rivers and streams meets salt water coming in from the ocean.  As the tides push salt water inland and the rains push fresh water toward the sea, there is a beautiful comingling of the two, creating a very fertile climate for growth.  A sign at the museum at Hammocks Beach State Park says that the brackish marshlands of coastal North Carolina harbor more species than any other eco-climate on earth!

This phenomenon is not a recent discovery.  The Book of Ezekiel describes a river flowing from under the threshold of the Temple.  Ezekiel watched as the river flowed through the desert, emptying into the Dead Sea.  He observed, “It will support all kinds of living creatures that will thrive abundantly wherever the river flows.  There will be a great number of fish, because this water will flow there and turn the salt water fresh.”  He continued to say, “The river delta will consist of swamps and marshes that will remain a salt water wetland preserve.”  (Ezekiel 47 9, 11)  Brackish!

I believe Ezekiel’s vision describes a spiritual reality.  Something happens when the Living Water that dwells within believers makes contact with those areas and people that are spiritually dead.  More than injecting life into others, however, I believe that new life grows in the exchange of ideas and opinions.  A spirit of humility and openness to learning new things – on the part of believer and seeker – creates fertile ground for thoughts, ideas and faith to grow.

Christians who act like they have all the answers to life make me nervous.  The life I have experienced has no easy answers or shortcuts to happiness.  It is complicated and messy and leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions.  Admitting that I don’t have it all figured out allows others space to ask hard questions and find that God may be in the mystery of it all.

I recently spotted a woman wearing a t-shirt that read:  “Brackish: A little salty; a little sweet.”  ENan has a birthday coming up soon.  I think I’m going to buy that shirt for her.

By Dr. Jim Baldwin

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