It was the tail end of the 2021 summer heat wave and my son and I were halfway up Mt. Adams. Despite hiking near glaciers, the heat had us sweating and stopping often. As we knelt near a stream to refill our water bottles, my trusty old water filter suddenly broke beyond repair. My son and I just stared at each other in disbelief!
You see, we have watched WAY too many survival shows to ever consider drinking unfiltered water in the wilderness. Sure, the risk is minimal, but stories of those infected with Giardia are not pretty. Fortunately, my son had stowed away a LifeStraw as an extra precaution. So like dogs on our bellies, we rehydrated ourselves directly from the stream, sharing the LifeStraw.
Yet there was still a problem. This little glacier stream was probably our last access to liquid water until we completed our final ascent (and descent). There was just no practical way to refill our water bottles with our LifeStraw. How would we stay hydrated on our way to the 12,000 ft summit? We knew that turning back was not an option. Despite our overly sensitive fear of intestinal parasites, we decided that the glacial runoff was probably safer than the tap water at our house. We dunked our water bottles directly in the stream, and completed our journey (with no unhealthy consequences later on).
In John chapter 4 Jesus describes to a woman from Samaria a type of living water that would quench her thirst permanently. The source of the living water is Jesus. The cost for this living water was paid at the cross through His death and resurrection. There is no payment required to receive this living water other than faith and full surrender. A life without thirst is always fully hydrated with love, joy, and peace.
Often we are too easily satisfied with the murky water of this world that always leaves us wanting more and never satisfies. C.S. Lewis writes:
“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Sometimes we attempt a watered-down Christianity. We want both the perfect riches of the eternal Kingdom and the incomplete temporary riches of this world. We turn Jesus into our LifeStraw. We use him when necessary to partially purify our participation in the “mud pies” we insanely prefer over a “holiday at the sea.” Jesus is our Living Water. May we fix our eyes on Him as the author and perfecter of our faith, rather than a temporary $10 Costco fix to our self-imposed trials.
So if you ever see me on a mountain with 3 water filters in my pack, don’t call me a hypocrite. If my path crosses a Jewish carpenter who offers me a drink, I’m all in!
I grew up as a young child on a dairy farm. When the wind and location are right, the “smells” of a local dairy in the valley bring me back to my childhood. We all know that dairy farms are full of cows and milk. This means they are also full of feed, water, and a natural byproduct we call manure. Collecting and processing manure can be a delicate challenge for dairy farmers. But for me as a kid, it provided a playground. More specifically, my older brother and I would sneak onto the large concrete holding pens after the cows had left. We would ride our BMX bikes with reckless abandon. Riding on the well-lubricated surface made the typical “skids” and “peel-outs” all the more enjoyable.
At the end of our unconventional revelry, we would march our way back to the house covered in cow manure and urine. My mom would see us coming, and quickly grab a high-pressured garden hose and spray us down for several minutes. We would endure a long-winded lecture in our soaking wet clothes. And when that didn’t prevent future funfests in the Cowpen, eventually our bikes were taken away.
What could make 2 kids enjoy something so disgusting and unsanitary? After living on a dairy farm for a while, the abundance of “poo” quickly became normalized. At least for my brother and I, it required too much effort to stay clear of it, and thus we even pursued it. My parents of course were much more civilized and consistently maintained a healthy separation from the filth. Now as an adult, I can’t imagine choosing to lather up in cow excrement, much less enjoy it!
This illustration provides a very clear application to our lives as believers, and our roles as parents. Our children are subjected to a world that is full of filth. It is so easy for this filth to become normalized in their world, and so easy for them to give in to the perverted attraction and even pursue it. Our role as parents is to model, instruct, and provide boundaries consistent with God’s Word. This requires constant and patient attention. Have you ever tried to scrub weeks-old cow manure out of clothes? It can be both challenging and uncomfortable. It is important to actively disciple every day!
We recently did a reset of some boundaries in our own home. Generally, boundaries can be enlarged as children mature, but sometimes the rate of decline of our culture exceeds the rate of maturity of our children. Sometimes a long-winded lecture and a high-powered garden hose can do the trick. Other times, restricting access until maturity is evident is our responsibility. But please know, if you see me wearing muddy boots, be assured it is just dirt.
My daughter was recently given an interesting assignment in her freshman College Psychology class. They were required to identify a common social norm, and then to break that norm on campus. Some examples were walking backward all day, wearing a formal dress to class, or never sitting down in class. I was excited to brainstorm ideas with my daughter and to even be a con-conspirator in the plan.
We decided that I would call her in the middle of one of her classes and she would have her ringtone unmuted and obnoxiously loud. She would answer the phone in class and even put me on speakerphone for our short conversation. This past week we executed the plan with perfection! Sure, I might have stayed on the phone longer than necessary in an attempt to embarrass her a bit. But we were both impressed with her courage and enjoyed the reaction of her classmates and professor! (apparently, this is a well-known assignment on campus and thus a lot of understanding is provided)
For some of us, this assignment would be a welcome and fun exercise. For others, it could be terrifying and anxiety-inducing!. Regardless, it would require a deliberate and public effort to stand out from the crowd. What an excellent illustration of our Christian testimony!
The apostle Paul reminds us that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). We know we are on the winning team and the battle has already been won. We do not have to wait to join the rest of the unbelieving world to testify of His Lordship. We already know that He is Lord and can show it today!
So the next time you see a courageous person breaking a social norm, let the Holy Spirit remind you how Jesus has broken the normal life of sin and death and provided a rich abundant life of joy and fruit. And then turn up your speakerphone and let the world hear it!
A couple of years ago we were blessed with a trip to Hawaii. While there was much to experience, our daily rhythm generally included visiting a beach. My son and I would spend hours boogie boarding in the waves.
The waves we found were satisfactory, but became a bit mundane after a couple of days. Then a high-surf warning came upon us. We were so excited! The waves at the first beach we went to were actually closed to tourists, and for good reason. They were huge! The waves at the second beach were fortunately open “at your own risk.” The experience was thrilling! Sure we broke a few boards, and tumbled underwater in the sand a few times! But what a great memory.
The circumstances in our lives may be very similar to the waves in the ocean. Comfortable circumstances, which rarely exist, can quickly become boring and unfruitful. Dangerous circumstances should have limits placed around them and avoided.
God is generally in the business of preparing thrilling circumstances for our days! Jesus came to give us a thrilling and abundant life. The apostle Paul reminds us through Jesus we can do all things. James even encourages us to rejoice in our challenges, as they bring so much life!
May we embrace the thrill of the waves of life. Whether simply getting all of your kids to bed on time, or keeping the refrigerator stocked, or taking the time to counsel and pray during frustrating situations. These experiences of every day, even the terrifying ones, can draw us closer to our Savior and closer to each other. As a result, our faces will shine not only with the radiance of the Hawaiian sun, but the radiance of His glory!