By CHRIS BATES
I’ve stood on several of our major North American continental divides. The Great Divide drops through the western part of the continent across several states. I have hiked over it in four states, driven across it in multiple states, and trout fished mere feet below each side of it in Montana and New Mexico. I have fished and pheasant hunted on the Northern Divide in North Dakota and eastern Montana. I’ve hiked the Appalachian Trail right down the Eastern Divide and crossed it numerous times in Georgia, the Carolinas and Florida. The St. Lawrence Divide has a beauty of its own, and I’ve seen it just south of the Great Lakes and stepped across it south of Maine.
When rain and snow come down on top of one of the divides, the precipitation will fall away to one side or another. Each bit of moisture drops away in obedience to altitude decline and gravity. There is no choice or consideration, and no hesitation as it seeks to submissively find its lowest point. It does not ask or complain, and never deliberates on a series of options that do not exist.
Along its path from the top of one of these divides to its ultimate destination in one of the oceans, it experiences times of efficient, joyful and swift movement. It also inevitably meets challenges of dry stream beds, river blockages and every diversion imaginable. We can safely assume that every single drop has to be rerouted on the ground or even absorbed and made to start over from the clouds.
Each drop also experiences a confluence, a meeting together, a merging with many others just like it. That is where it builds strength and can more easily move right through, over or under each challenge that dares obstruct its path.
The difference with us as people, of course, is that we can sometimes choose our courses. While gravity and life are inevitable, we are able to influence our own life directions to an extent based on our willingness and level of effort. Gravity and challenge may come in the form of heartache, loss, addiction, divorce, bankruptcy or even ongoing boredom or frustration. Life happens. Our momentum hits impact just as the water flow hits blockages and river turns. Our humanness rears itself, and evil exists.
Most often we do have the choice to change, although it can be very hard, or we may need help. The three A’s of change are awareness, acceptance and action. These are necessary for growth and change to occur. Also necessary is having a motivation to change. We likely lack the drive to do what it takes to change if we cannot first connect with the process (the three A’s) and the reason.
Dr. John Tolson and Larry Kreider said it so well in “The Four Priorities”: “If you asked Jesus to come into your life, he is there. He isn’t going anywhere. If you were able to see your own life from God’s vantage point, you would see that you’re in the process of transformation. If you could see what God sees, your anxieties would melt away and your heart would fill with hope. Furthermore, you would discover a greater capacity to endure inevitable struggles. Hope is the foundational principle for all change. People change because they have hope.”
God’s grace is a given, and our eternal life with Him is spelled out in the Word. As we go through our days here, He gives us that hope backed by the strength that we need. While change is challenging, it is also fulfilling and exciting. While water follows its inevitable process, we can choose to have hope and instigate change with the help of God and others. As we begin this new year, let us consider what specific hope is right in front of each of us, and use it to flow in better directions. With each other and God’s love, the outcomes can be better than we imagined.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.