Salmon Run

Everyone knows salmon swim upstream. Attracted by the sound of rushing white water, they point themselves against the current leaping any obstacle in their way.

Winnipeg, Manitoba is a city made up of many one-way streets. When I was in college these streets would regularly frustrate us. I can’t tell you how many times when we needed to go left, it seemed all streets were one-ways to the right.

Sometimes, being the sneaky and somewhat impatient college students that we were, we’d cautiously glance in all directions, shout two words ‘salmon run,’ and make a beeline for our destination. Those two words heralded many crazy-don’t-try-this-at-home-or-tell-your-parents moments.

To travel upstream on a street might incite a jolt of adrenalin but it is quite dangerous and illegal, I don’t recommend it. However, for a few of us good friends the two words ‘salmon run’ became code for much more.

They became code for how we would describe any risky action taken that moved against spiritual mediocrity or apathy on the campus. The two words represented moments when we guys would call each other to greater levels of purity, especially when many peers were floating down the stream of compromise. We whispered ‘salmon run’ over each other in prayer times when one of us was deciding to make a radical decision, to give up precious summer months for service or a mission trip. With these words we encouraged each other deeper in our walks with God; to not take status quo commitments as the norm.

That worked in back in college, but how about today?

Eight days ago I was with over 200 young adults at re:TURN 2012. We spent 2 days in the presence of Jesus. On New Year’s Eve, as we said goodbye to 2012 we gathered around the Lord’s Table at 11:55pm, it was powerful. I wanted to call everyone there to also say goodbye to settling for status quo Christianity. I felt like yelling ‘salmon run!!!’

There is a growing sense in this generation that our church in North America is not quite what it could be. There are things we’ve allowed to creep into our church cultures that grieve God. Things like materialism, apathy, consumerism, busyness, or recreation. Little gods we serve and quietly honour 24/7. They subtly cause us to settle in our faith. Before we know it we are all meandering together calmly down the river, believing inner tube faith is the adventure of Jesus.

Where are the ‘salmon’ today; the leaders willing against the flow of the majority? Where are the ones who long get back to the white water? Those churning places where Jesus is building His church, healing the sick, and setting oppressed free? Where are the ones willing to repent and turn from the subtle cultural sin that strangles and disillusions us corporately? There is nothing calm or meandering about that water.

The passionate risk takers are out there my friends. They are waiting to be summoned by a peer calling ‘it’s time for a salmon run.’ They are awakening, coming alive, hungry for more.

Spirit of God turn us around, may we give ourselves to everything you have for us.

What would a 2013 salmon run look like for you?


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