Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Need of a Wordy Wash

I’ve heard it said that water is the unique element ensuring the existence of life. That’s the reason why endeavors to explore other planets and galaxies focus among other things to find this sacred elixir. Water has chemical and physical properties that make it critical for the proliferation of life; from the molecular to the macroscopic scale we always see water taking a critical role in the biological world.

Now, biology is not the only context giving water a prominent role. A rapid search of places in the bible where water is mentioned brings up more than 600 references!  Actually the very second verse of the bible says that the Spirit was hovering over the waters”.  In the same way just a couple of verses before the end of the bible we find these words: “Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the Water of life”.  I find these facts fascinating, especially when some time ago I was reading the very well known Psalm 1, and for some reason I was prompted, I want to say by the Spirit, to “hover” on verses  2 and 3. I am copying the verses for those that may not be familiar with them:

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prosper.”

It’s interesting that the same verses appear on Jeremiah 17:7-8 where God spoke to the Israelites thru the prophet trying to bring them back to Him.  Now, I remember having heard a few times before of a parallel relationship among “Water”, “Jesus”, and the “Word”.  I have always taken this fact as a given, but never studied the reasons behind it to verify whether it was right or wrong.   However, this time as I focused on these two verses and decided to dive in a little more, I found strong ground for this analogy.  I have also found that this analogy has important repercussions for my life both at the thought and practical level, not only because I want to be that individual who is like a tree planted by streams of water, but also because we are in the endeavor of making our family that kind of a tree.

This is how these two verses stroke a special chord in my heart this time. As I grow stronger into my “mother” role and figure out all about this business of molding a family, -Which by the way I don’t ever expect to grasp fully while here on earth;  I am being reminded of the vital, more critical ingredients to accomplish so.

Now, when you have been a Christian for over two decades, even it takes a lot less sometimes, you start taking lots of things for granted.  You think that you have already heard not all, but at least the most important things and you just find a comfortable place of slow growth which makes you feel comfortable.  I hope that’s not the case of many around me.  But at least it was my place, until I came across with these verses, but this time aided by the Holy Spirit who put a magnifying glass over them and whispered: This is really what you need, if you really want to build your family as this type of tree.”

I understood it so clearly then. Verse 3 says that we will be planted by waters and verse two exactly explains what the waters mean, nothing else but the Word of God.  I know this sounds extremely basic for most Christians.  But the way verse two questioned me was:  Am I really, really delighting myself in the Law of the Lord?  Am I meditating on it day and night? My automatic answer would’ve been “yes” if I thought about my Sunday school and church attendance, and maybe reading some books here and there, and some periodic bible reading...but then, I realized that the right answer was a whooping “No”.  I shouldn’t call that type of interaction with the word a “delight” if I compare it with other activities I have no problem spending hours and hours on…like watching a movie for example.  Now I am not trying to advocate the legalistic side of things here, but what I was thinking is that if I want to become the type of mother that God wants me to be and if we want to build our families to be forts in God’s kingdom, we have to make sure to plant them right by the waters.  We have to make sure that our daily lives are completely drenched by waters of the Word of God, not only receiving third party interpretations, but having a relevant one on one relationship with it, looking for it, as I look for water to satisfy my physical thirst.  We need to desire it as the psalmist says: “As the deer desires rivers of water, so my soul desires you, O God”. Psalm 42:1.

Now I said that there was an analogy between Water, the Word and Jesus. I’m not trying to make a theological discourse here.  I don’t have the training for that. However, Jesus was very straightforward to describe himself as the water of life when talking to the Samaritan lady in John 4. There are many other places on the bible supporting this truth, but I have not enough room on this post to list them all. What about Jesus as the “word”?  Well, John 1:1 is also very clear stating that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh”. The Greek translation for the Word in that passage is “Logos” which has a much greater meaning that just the written word.  However, the portion of His word that God has made available to us is the bible.  In other words, if I were to die tomorrow, and would like Garrick to learn who I am, what I think, etc, then I will write an autobiography and give it to him.  It’s impossible to condense God’s mind in just one book, as the bible says “Who can know the thoughts of God”- 1 Cor 2:16. However He reveals to us in the bible enough of Him or Jesus, which is the same, so that we can deeply know Him and His plans.

Therefore, my questioning becomes even more acute now. Why if God revealed himself thru His Word, and He’s stated that His word is Christ himself and He wants me to regard it as vital for my life as my body needs water, I don’t drink enough of it? I’ve heard that a human being can’t survive without drinking water for more than five days, but I have been certainly been able to go without the Word for far more than that. When thinking about this I remember an old illustration of a master teaching his disciple how much God wanted him to desire Him by holding him under water until he wrestled his way up for a gasp of air. God wants us to need Him as much as we need air to breathe. I actually recall singing a song like that at church before. But do I really do?

I know responding to this question is very personal.  I really don’t want to put a guilt trip on any one, -except a good one on my children when they are old enough to read this post.  And I know different people may respond in different practical ways to it. Some may decide to start doing topical studies, others, may join a bible study group, yet others may want to continue with their one verse devotional readings. Whichever way the Holy Spirit may prompt for a more significant interaction with God thru his word is better than just sitting once a week listening to someone else talk about it or plainly not doing anything at all. In my case, the application to this soul searching exercise resulted on my commitment to a very old a proven habit: Reading thru the bible in a year.  I was amazed to find how many wonderful resources there are out there to help you do this, especially online.  A resource I am using is the You Version app, which has a tone of neat features besides a strong online community to support you.  I am not going say that it’s been easy nor that I am constantly caught up with my reading, but knowing that I’m walking forward with my commitment and reading thru verses and stories that I haven’t read in years, wrestling with passages and slowly trying to dive in into them sometimes in prayer and only the lead of the Holy Spirit, and some others with the help of bible study resources like”Logos”  has been very eye opening and spiritually rewarding.  I feel great about cooperating with God on my way to put off self and put on Jesus (Rom 13:14), to let Him cleanse me and renew me by the washing of water thru His Word (Eph 5:26). Not that I have to do anything to gain his favor or grace, but because I have them already and because of that I want to know Him more and get closer to Him. Because I want him to plant me and my family by His streams of waters, and want to bear much fruit to bring glory to Him. And because I also want to lead by example and hope my children will do as they have seen me doing.

And you, would you join me to let God plant a forest by the waters? I hope you do. Or maybe you're already doing it and you can encourage me and others do the same!

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