Monday, May 19, 2014

The Big Spring

The Big Spring, we called it. Without it our cistern would be empty.

A large tank was loaded into the back of Daddy's pick up truck out on the farm. All we had to do was drive to the Big Spring and connect to the pipe running out of the hillside. Cold, sweet water began from an unknown source, high on the hilltops.  It poured down through the pipe, there at the side of a gravel road, and splashed into our tank, filling it up. In a week or two my family would return for more life-giving water and I would once again be amazed at the miracle of the Big Spring.

After we grew up and moved to the city, we filled containers to take the water back to the city with us so we could enjoy it as long as possible. Our Charles, my sister's husband, once said it was the best water he ever had. Fresh spring water can be bought for a price in the market now, but back then, we had to find the wellspring source ourselves.

For of his fullness, we all have received, and grace upon grace.  John 1:16

One of my favorite running trails circles a clear, sparkling lake. I sometimes rest at a graceful waterfall splashing over the large rocks.  Something about water restores body and soul, washes clear our minds and soothes our hearts. Water gives life and a thirsty runner is grateful for a few moments to drain a water bottle and catch her breath.

The water that splashes down is ever replenishing. It's always the same waterfall, but not the same water. It flows from a secret place, water upon water. Continually providing new water instead of the old, sweet instead of stale flows the spring of abundant, life-giving power.

For of his fullness, we all have received, and grace upon grace.

Water upon water. Grace upon grace. Grace instead of grace. Grace for grace. A perpetual hour by hour, year by year, replenishing of new for the old, fresh for the stagnant.

Grace-full water splashes down from a secret place in my life, a wellspring that never runs dry. It replenishes me continually. Living water upon Living Water. Grace upon grace. It's the same spring, the same waterfall, but not the same water. The water that flowed through me a few minutes ago has been replaced, replenished by a new in-pouring of Living Water. Water instead of water. Grace instead of grace. 

"For of his fullness, we all have received." We all can enjoy, depend on, be restored by his fullness. It's not a secret source, but a known source, this sweet, Living Water. Charles would tell you it's the best water you will ever taste. Like the lady at the well, you will never thirst again.

"Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." It flows with a continual sweet spring that splashes down from heaven. Living Water upon Living Water. Grace upon grace. Love upon love. Joy upon joy.

For of his fullness, we all have received, and grace upon grace. 

His grace is sufficient for me. His love is everlasting. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Make Learning a Joy

Nine year old Soren groaned. "Do I have to learn this song? I don't want to do it. I don't like it."

This is not an infrequent question for a piano teacher. I smile into his big brown eyes that snap playfully with hope.

"Please?" he begs.

He is surprised to hear me answer that no, he doesn't have to learn it.  I am more than willing to let him learn the same skills in a song he enjoys.

Wise old Solomon tells us in Proverbs that a wise teacher makes learning a joy. When learning is fun, students develop skills more quickly. When learning comes easily, motivation soars with confidence.

The opposite is also true. When we don't like what we are learning, we become frustrated and more easily disappointed..

Perseverance through troubles produces endurance  Disciplined practice during challenging music creates well trained musicians. If every time Soren complained about what he didn't like, I gave in and let him skip the song, it wouldn't be long before laziness and rebellion slowed progress to a stop

Soren is tackling a challenging song for an upcoming recital. More work and perseverance at the piano are necessary. He likes the music and wants to play it, but the preparation and discipline can weigh heavy on his active little boy spirit. He isn't always fond of slowing down to work on details, but he is learning that sometimes struggle must be accepted and endured to reach a goal.

Because most of the time learning piano is enjoyable and comes easily, he has discovered  laziness and rebellion aren't worth the trouble. Periodic struggle and challenge can be accepted and endured. If he slows down to work on the details in the challenge, success will come.

I'm learning that, too. When I work on one thing at a time, focus on the details of one goal, I discover that most of my learning is a joy. Change happens more quickly and motivation soars with confidence that will move me forward to my next step. I know that victory will be mine if I don't quit.

New habits bring disappointment and struggle, but joy comes in the challenges if I discipline myself and persevere.

Recently Soren found a song he is determined to play even though it is far beyond his ability. I suggested that he try it, breaking the challenge into small sections so he doesn't give up. Every small success is increasing his joy at the piano.

Make your lifesong sing, one measure at a time. Keep walking by faith, not by sight and joy will come. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness, one thing at a time. You will reap a harvest if you do not lose heart and give up.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sleeping with the Enemy

"I'm starting to believe God doesn't care about me. I pray and pray, beg and beg and my prayers just aren't getting through, Why would he keep saying 'no' over and over to me when I'm so miserable?" a friend asked me.

"You aren't miserable all the time," I said gently. "Sometimes you're enjoying your life.  This new guy friend, for example."

"True. He's so mature and caring. I really do like him. But I mean the big things in my life. Any attention from God would be better than this...nothing."

I paused to talk silently with the God who is there, but sometimes turns away from his children.

"Just say it," she urged, shaking her head. "You obviously know something I don't."

"You're sleeping with the enemy," I answered. "Everywhere you go, the Holy Spirit goes with you. Every minute you spend sleeping with a man who is not your husband, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, is with you in that bed. Perhaps He isn't enjoying it as much as you are."

"Gross! Don't say that!" she argued, covering her face, but I continued.

"Take My yoke upon you. That's what Jesus offered. Come to Me if you are weary and I will give you rest. My burden is light. I am gentle, humble of heart. It's truth, but it doesn't mean His love is blind."

"My burden isn't so light these days," she said. "But I really like this guy. I don't want to give him up. Besides, maybe he'll become a Christian and maybe the future will work out okay."

"You are choosing an unequal yoke with an unbeliever, a yoke of slavery to the evil one, even though Jesus set you free. Could it be that God has grown weary of sleeping with the enemy? He is faithful even when you are faithless, but you can't blame Him for turning His face away, for not wanting to watch.

It's tempting to play around with the enemy, my darling. I play around with the enemy, too. I sometimes eat foods that are bad for me, hurting my body and making me miserable. Picnicking with the enemy.

I play with the enemy, nursing my grudges and disappointments even though it hardens my heart. Chatting with the enemy.

The evil one offers a yoke of slavery. You can weigh yourself down with more than one yoke at a time, tied to Jesus with one arm and hooked up to the evil one at the same time."

Know the truth. It will set you free. The rich young ruler turned away from Jesus because of his riches, that one thing that he would not give up. It may be fun to sleep with the enemy. It may even be a delicious escape from temporary troubles.

Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever you sow, that you will also reap. You cannot serve both God and the evil one. Do not be unequally yoked.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Johnathan's Marvelous Miracle

"Wook!" Johnathan shouted in the middle of our walk around the block, "Oh, otay! Wain!"

"It's not raining. That's the flower petals blowing from the tree," I laughed.

His pudgy toddler hands raised toward the sky as he blinked in wonderment at the hundreds of tiny white petals raining down and the thousands more piled at his feet.

"There shall be showers of blessings," I sang to him. "Showers of blessings we need. Mercy drops 'round us are falling! But for the showers we plead." (D.W. Whittle, 1883)

Johnathan began to laugh at this event too marvelous for words as we twirled and danced in the shower of soft petals.

He was delighted at the prospect of rain showers and mud puddles on our walk. He was prepared, dressed in rain boots and a jacket. But, this miracle of flowers in what looked like rain was too marvelous for words.

What if His mercy comes through raindrops? What if His blessings come through tears? What if our greatest disappointments are his blessings in disguise? ("Blessings", by Laura Story)

Perhaps the secret to seeing our disappointments as blessings lies in being prepared to splash in the mud, to having tucked into our jacket a faith in the God whose ways are too marvelous for words.

We danced through the flower shower then ran to the top of the hill laughing. Looking back down the street, knowing what we knew now, the petals falling were pretty, but not nearly as wondrous as when we were dancing and singing in the middle of it, watching the petals falling around us.

Some moments you cannot do over. You only get one chance to see the marvelous miracle unfolding around you. It may look like rain or it may look like flowers, but you have to be prepared for both, eyes wide awake to the possibilities on your walk with the God who makes all things glorious.