You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it.
James 1:3-4 (MSG)
I don’t know if sunny calm days are a balm to your soul in the same way they are to me, but on the east coast, this past Saturday was especially “springy.” Dwelling with Jesus in the beauty of the natural world is one way God restores me, so I spent every minute I could in my backyard.
One of my new projects has been trying to restore a little waterfall pond at our new house. It’s pretty weathered, and it appears it hasn’t had much attention in the last decade (maybe far beyond that). I scooped out the muck, re-installed the pump and refilled it on Saturday. And it worked! I got a peaceful little trickle coming down the rocks into the cement reservoir. Great work, Keith! Feeling accomplished for doing almost nothing, I walked away for a few minutes. When I came back, I saw a tiny trickle again… this time on the wrong side of the rock. Apparently, the intense weather over the years of dormancy had led to a crack in my foundation. Actually, as water slowly leaked out for the rest of the day, I realized there were more cracks that I couldn’t even see. It was subtle, and slow…. but clearly, my pond was losing water.
Let’s talk straight. Many of our social skills have become a bit dormant in this time as well. And the pressure has been rising. Cracks are forming… or getting larger. Our emotional reservoirs are being tested, and let me tell you…. they ain’t watertight. We’re cracked.
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Something interesting happened as I wrote this piece. The point changed. The idea I started with felt insufficient. I was planning to write about the process of sealing our cracked realities with Jesus leading us.
But I realized something about my fountain. The weather’s not quite warm enough for me to do any sealing work, and it looks like it will take a lot of time for the right supplies to get delivered. It likely won’t be able to happen for a month or two. So I’m actually stuck with the cracks and maybe a little bit of hackwork in the meantime. And Jesus is showing me something in that realization.
My only option at the moment is pretty simple. Stop spending all my time trying to fix every leak. Instead, if the system is going to work, I’m going to need to just keep adding a bit more water each day. The cracks will remain, but so will the inflow.
We've got cracks, friends. I see you. All of you. Me too. The pressure has built up, and people are unable to keep an airtight seal. We’re finding that what is good, beautiful, faithful, gentle, and gracious is draining faster than it used to. Our reserves are emptying and we can't ignore it. And honestly, that's not surprising.
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns that can hold no water.
- God (through Jeremiah)
But anyone who drinks the water I give them will never thirst…. indeed it will become in them a spring of water.
We have this treasure in [breakable] jars of clay…. to show the power belongs to God and not us.
You’re not that impressive. You have limited reserves. That’s kind of the point. The power doesn’t belong to you. Broken people can only display God’s glory because God is dwelling in them. That’s the story. If we aren’t dwelling, resting, and renewing ourselves in Jesus, then what is most beautiful in us will simply drain through our cracked, exhausted, under-pressure bodies. You’ll end up shouting at the tv, losing it with your kids, grumbling about each new day, or cursing your brothers and sisters (in your mind, if not your lips).
Friends. Be still.
You know, it’s interesting. We love quoting Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God, as if it’s a quiet whisper to our souls as we take a walk in a fern-carpeted forest on a calm summer morning in Sweden. It’s not. The context is mountains quaking, kingdoms falling, and nations in uproar. And the Psalmist hears God shout "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD!"
God stops the war by breaking a bow and shattering a spear and says, Stop letting everything around you completely control your perspective! Just stop. Rest. Turn it off. Recalibrate. Fill up. Remember what and who you say you believe.
It’s ok to be leaky, and to be cracked, if we’re actively getting refilled. But that won't happen by accident. If we’re going to get through this together, we’re going to need to be still and let Jesus work on us. This is not optional. We’re too cracked to create a perfect seal ourselves. This will require making tough choices.
We have to have time where the news machine is turned off. We have to silence our phone and pause our culture of outrage at everyone and everything around us. We have to say, "I’m sorry." We have to fix our eyes the one who does not fade— the one whose kingdom is not from this world or contaminated by viruses, political gain, money, or power. The one who has an endless supply of water for us, because our pressurized reality has exposed cracks and we’re emptying faster than before. This is the only way we’ll remain compassionate.
It will take daily moments of re-prioritizing our lives and letting Jesus renew our minds so that we don’t lose our hope or our witness. There is no other way. This week I'm committing to that with fresh courage. Please join me. For Christ’s sake. And yours.
Jesus, I want you to fill me with all you are, so that I can live transformed.