“Whoever believes in Me, as Scriptures has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” — John 7:38
I always understood this is the goal – to be so connected, so overcome with the presence of Christ in my life, that living waters flow from me so others may know Him and drink. I get the idea – but I’ve never been exactly sure what it means or looks like. I wonder if living waters flow from me and I’m not sure. The implication might be if you do things right, living waters flow. If you don’t, you’re kind of a loser Christian.
I typically feel like a loser Christian. I read my Bible and clearly, I fall way short – which is one of the reasons I am grateful for Jesus.
In an unrelated moment, I read the following story credited to Peter Marshall, former Chaplain of the United States Senate about the “Keeper of the Stream”.
The story is about an old man who lived in the Alpine forest, high above an Austrian village. The man was hired by the town council to clear away rubbish from pools of water up the mountain which fed the stream that flowed through their town.
Faithfully, the keeper of the stream removed leaves, branches and accumulated silt that might contaminate the fresh flow of water.
The town possessed such a beautiful, clear, stream it became a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world. Years passed and one evening the town council met for its annual meeting. As the council members looked over the budget, they began to question the salary being paid to this obscure keeper of the stream.
They questioned why they kept the old man year after year. The council voted to cut the old man’s services and tell him he was no longer needed.
For several weeks nothing happened and the council members congratulated themselves on their savings. By early fall, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, impeding the flow of water. Rollicking rapids with sprays of water became stagnant pools.
One afternoon someone noticed a slight, yellow tint to the town water. Within a few weeks, a slimy film covered sections of water along the banks and a foul odor was detected. Tourists soon left and some of the residents became ill.
The town council, realizing their error, called a special meeting to rehire the keeper of the stream. Within a few weeks, the stream cleared and life in the town returned to normal.
When I heard this story, I immediately thought about the living waters in John 7:38. I thought about my stream and the debris that clogs it. Habits, gossip, pride, anger and unforgiveness – rotten leaves that create a dam and keep water from flowing. I thought about Christ being the keeper who removes the junk that litters my stream if I allow Him to.
The danger is just as in the story, the effect of no keeper is subtle at first. I may not notice leaves and branches accumulating. I may not even notice a change in the stream – water that was once fresh and flowing becoming stagnant and still.
Eventually leaves of self and sin start to pile up, stink and rot. Just like the town council, I can choose to value the role of the keeper and allow Him to work or I can let my stream stay clogged with stink and slime.
I’m thankful the keeper of the stream is always willing to clean up my mess. He never holds his nose in disgust or walks away muttering, “you get what you deserve.” In His grace and mercy, He lovingly removes the debris and encourages me to flow again.
He loves me unconditionally and died to pay the penalty for my sin, my junk, my debris – and because of Him, the keeper of the stream, I receive living water.
When I get busy and don’t make time for God, the first thing I notice is bad language creeps in, next impatience. What kind of stuff shows up when your stream gets clogged?
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