If you watch any of the varied "survivor" shows on television very long, you'll hear a familiar phrase used over and over again. It goes something like "when you are lost, look for a river or stream and follow it downstream." The thought is that if you follow a river -- out of a lush rain forest or across a desert or from atop a glaciated mountain range -- you will, sooner or later, find some sort of civilization. Along the way the river will provide water for your journey as well as the possibility of some sort of food from time to time.
Rivers bring life to parched areas of the earth and drain abundant water away in wetter climates. Rivers were the highways we traveled in the early days of our nation -- pushing westward on watery ribbons that cut a path through miles and miles of untamed and uncharted wilderness.
Centuries of written history, prose and poetry, and oral tradition have convinced us that a river can be not only a life giver, but a life saver as well.
Scriptures tell us it is that way with believers as well. Jesus said rivers of living water would flow from the bellies of those who believe in him.
So ... what does that mean?
It means that if someone believes in Jesus the Holy Spirit of God will flow from within that person. When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit of God takes up residence in our very being. When we hear the Word or study the Bible, instruction from the Holy Spirit flows from that inward source; that inward river. If we choose to follow that river, we will find life and be led to the place we are supposed to be.
Jesus is giving us instruction in that scripture. Follow the river! He's telling us where it is. It's inside of every believer. We are to follow Him by letting the river flow. The river is taking us somewhere. We may not care for where the river has taken us up to this point in life, but we need to just keep following the river.
Someone may ask how we are to know when the river is flowing and when we are just wanting to go this way or that. The answer is quite simple: if you are a believer and you are reading the scriptures and praying sincerely about any given situation, the river that flows out of your belly will be the river that you'll follow.
"Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." That's not just some nice catchy little phrase. It's an expectation of every believer.
The Word also says the believer will be will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, and that he or she will bring forth good fruit when the time is right (in season); and that whatever he or she does (when they follow the river) will prosper.
So ... Let the river flow.