"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4).

When it comes to images of natural beauty in our country, what comes to your mind? While I have not actually been there myself, I am consistently awed by the photos and stories of the Grand Canyon. From how others describe it, I know that it must be something special. One look and it's not hard to see why it's one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a vision that directly leads me to see our incredible Creator more clearly.

However, despite its marvelous beauty, the Grand Canyon didn't become awesome on its own. The curves, bends, formations, and expanses were brought about over time by a tremendous movement of water named the Colorado River. The reason we are able to enjoy the magnificence of the canyon is because of what went before it. Each day, the powerful flow of the Colorado erodes and forms, shaping and reshaping what we see today.

What can we learn from this movement of water with canyon shaping power?

  • The Right Source: The Colorado River begins its journey far to north, in the La Poudre Pass of the Rocky Mountains. In the Bible, mountains were special places where God met and spoke to His servants (Exodus 19:18-20Matthew 17:1-5). As the only true source of life and purpose, God must be the mountain we draw from every day. 
  • A Diverse Team: There are more than 25 significant tributaries that join with the Colorado River on its voyage south. As we've seen in Jesus' leadership, the greatest things in life are accomplished with teams. Are we trying to make it through this journey alone? Who might be a "significant tributary" to add into our flow and partner with us in a shared vision? It's only through the collaboration of a diverse team that we are able to persevere in the testing and pursue maturity and completeness.
  • Purposeful Direction: The Colorado River doesn't just aimlessly flow, rather it flows with purpose and decisiveness towards its final destination, the Gulf of California. That being said, the path to the finish is not a straight line and for the Colorado, it lasts 1,450 miles! Knowing where we are headed matters, especially for a journey that will be challenging and even painful (John 16:33). As followers of Christ, we are heaven-bound and created for eternity. To what end are you striving? Do you see the value of each turn, each redirection in light of the Gospel? 

What do you see when you look back on your journey? Beauty? Struggles? Can you point to collaboration and teamwork? Where has God shown up? As James highlights, we only find ourselves finishing the work of perseverance, "mature and complete, not lacking anything" after we have met many trials and have had our faith tested. In a similar way, it took time, rain, wind, and more for the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon and oh, what a sight to behold. Keep on keeping on.

As leaders, what do we hope will follow the movement of ELI? What are we praying that God would bring about in this next year as we persevere in initiating, influencing, and impacting for Christ? My prayer is that what we leave in our wake will be something glorious, amazing, and awe-inspiring that directly points others to one thing: our great God.