Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘self-effort’

Drinking Rain from Heaven

Photo Credit: Jasleen Kaur

Photo Credit: Jasleen Kaur

“But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven.  It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. ”

Deuteronomy 11:11-12

I woke to the sound of rain this morning and rejoiced.

The summer months in my native state of Pennsylvania have progressively grown drier and drier. It hurts to walk on my lawn; the grass crackles and pricks my bare feet, almost like the high desert of Colorado where I lived for a time.

Fresh water is desperately needed by every living thing upon the earth. We human beings crave it for our bodies. Even the earth cries out for rain.

Yesterday’s prayer began like this: “Lord, I am so tired and the school year hasn’t even started.” All my responsibilities rose up in my mind’s eye.

And so the soft fall of rain on my face this morning was an answer: The Lord sends us rain, both for our souls and for the works of our hands.

“He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful.” Isaiah 30:23 (NIV)

I am grateful for my strength, my abilities, and my ideas. Truly.

But what a relief to know that it is not all up to me, to do everything in my own strength.

He sends rain from heaven.

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Have I Had Enough to Drink?

Photo Credit: Toni Frissell

Photo Credit: Toni Frissell

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord,
 they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’” Psalm 92:13-15 (NIV)

Salt water is fun to swim in. I love oceans and grew up visiting my father’s family who lived by the Atlantic Ocean in Maine. Every summer, we dove under frigid waves and fought the entangling seaweed as we waded back out to the rocky beach.

But this salt-saturated ocean is not the living water that we need so desperately to maintain life.

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breath nor motion;

As idle as a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

We need fresh drinking water.   In contrast to my ocean visits, my mother brought me every summer to a spring-fed lake in the wilds of Pennsylvania where her mother had a cottage. This body of water was more like living water, fresh, cold, pure, and such a joy to swim in. I was streamlined and fast, with no resistance.

Our Christian living is designed to be like swimming in water, and filled with refreshing water that is fresh, drinkable – coursing down our throats, brightening our eyes and tingling down our limbs.

The voice that invites us to drink of His love and presence is not one of tyrannical authority. Jesus speaks because he cares for us and knows we are made of water and need it to fulfill our life purpose. The plan is always live near the source of Life, continually drinking, and then becoming life to others.

Jesus said: “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38 (NIV)

We are also compared in Scripture to trees and plants whose leaves open and glow and whose flowers open, the buds bursting forth. Our stems stand upright, not bowed down as if with a weight. Jesus repudiated the Pharisees of his day, telling them they were laying heavy burdens on their followers, causing them to walk with difficulty or to give up, saying “this is too hard for me.”

Christian life is not rule following; it is not trying endlessly to be good, and then hiding from others because it is impossible to do.

When I feel thirsty or over-burdened, I know where to go. Jesus is the well that has tapped into purified ground water that is good for washing our minds, cleansing our sins, and strengthening us for service that is the opposite of heavy and full of self effort.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation7: 17 (NIV)

Give me lots to drink!

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