Tag Archives: Spring

Spirit Spring and Personal Cistern

They have forsaken me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns
Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)

Wendy and I came home from our cruise a week ago with a mixture of emotions. We’ve done some debriefing about it together this past week. As I admitted in my recap, our time aboard fell into a very simple (and some would say “boring”) routine. We read a lot. We watched movies in our room. We sat by the pool in the warm sun. We only went to one of the big stage shows they offer in the evenings. We only truly explored one of the four ports of call. The daily list of activities we could enjoy was mind-boggling, but we pretty much ignored it all. We didn’t want endless activity. We have that at home.

On one hand we truly enjoyed the rest, the warmth, and the break from routine. We enjoyed being together as we always do. It was quiet and peaceful. At the same time, we both came home feeling that our Spirit-tank was empty. Independent of one another, we had thoughts of some thing on which we wanted to ponder and dig into. We had plans for journaling, meditating, seeking, and conversation together. We thought the downtime would afford us the opportunity to dig deep from a spiritual perspective. In retrospect, we didn’t do that, nor did we really even talk about it before we left.

In today’s chapter, Jeremiah’s prophetic poetry is pointed at his own people. He offers a word picture that leapt off the page for me in the quiet this morning. They had access to God’s “spring of living water,” but chose to dig their own cisterns instead. Yeah. I get that. I kind of feel like that with our missed opportunity a few weeks ago.

That confessed, I’m not beating myself up about this. It is what it is. It was a restful week and an enjoyable getaway. Nevertheless, it has served as a reminder for me. The line between “surface” and “Spirit” is an important one. Drinking from the spring of Living Water is not the same as drinking from the well-dug cistern of personal satisfaction.

Chalk up another lesson for the journey. I’m going to do it differently the next time we getaway together for a time of rest.

Have a good week, my friends.

“Harsh Realities”

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

Follow me for any length of time and you’ll discover that I enjoy the game of baseball. One of the many reasons I enjoy baseball is the way the game metaphorically reflects life in so many ways.

In the narration of his great documentary about the game, Ken Burns speaks about the game beginning each season with the hope of spring, and ending each year with the “harsh realities of autumn.” How often life is like that. The optimistic young soldier ships out with his head filled of dreams of glory and returns with his spirit tempered by the realities of battle. A couple begins their marriage in the fog of romance, but soon find themselves living day-by-day facing the sacrificial requirements of love. Just months ago we celebrated Jesus’ birth with greeting cards chalk full of words about hope for humanity, joy to the world, and peace on earth. In a few weeks we will remember Jesus’ kangaroo court trial, torture, and gruesome execution. Death must come before resurrection can even be a possibility. That’s a harsh reality.

In today’s chapter, Jesus is preparing his followers for what life is going to be like on their mission of taking His message to the world. It’s not a pep talk. It’s a sobering reality check. Jesus didn’t fill His messengers with visions of fame, fortune, and prosperity. He called them to austerity, humility, and sincerity. He did not send them out with hopeful promises that the Message they would carry would create inspirational social movements of unity, peace and brotherhood. He told them to be wary and shrewd, expecting opposition, persecution, and conflict. The sweet manger baby we all celebrated as the “Prince of Peace” has grown to deliver a more difficult message: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Along my journey I’ve come to accept that we as humans like to dwell on the things that are easy, optimistic, inspirational, and accessible. There’s nothing wrong with looking at the glass half-full and being grateful for it. We need hope and optimism to carry us in dark times. Nevertheless, I’ve learned that there is wisdom in being sober minded. We are quick to remember Jesus feeding a hungry crowd of people by miraculously multiplying a few loaves and fish. Few of us recall that just a day later Jesus drove that very crowd away when He asked them to “eat my flesh, and drink my blood.” The crowds wanted the former without the latter. We still do.

Baseball season starts in a week and a half. Right now fans like Wendy and me are experiencing the annual feelings of giddy excitement. Come the evening of April 2nd it will be hot dogs and cold beer at the Vander Well Pub. Every team’s record starts at 0-0, and everyone is hopeful. This year Wendy and I even get to feel the joy of our team starting the season as World Series Champions, and that’s a lot of fun. It does not wipe away, however, the knowledge that we’ve never felt it before.

Harsh realities of autumn 108. World Series Champions 1.

Play ball!

“I Will Bring You Home”

“At that time I will bring you home….”
Zephaniah 3:20 (NRSV)

Here in the heartland of America, in the great state of Iowa, we have been experiencing an early spring. It’s March Madness, which is usually a time when we receive the final blast of winter’s fury. The state high school girl’s basketball tournament is mythically synonymous with “blizzard.” But not this year.

The temperatures have been unseasonably warm. The tulips are already shooting up from the earth. We’ve already used the grill on the patio multiple times. The sounds of Cubs baseball is becoming daily ambient audio here at Vander Well Manor, even if it is just spring training.

There is something exciting about spring. The death of winter gives way to new life in spring. We celebrate the journey from gave to empty tomb. Shivering in the cold yields to basking in the sun’s warmth. Resurrection, hope, and joy are kindled in our souls, reminding us that old things pass away and new things are coming.

How apt, I thought, that in this morning’s chapter we find Zephaniah’s predictions of doom and gloom giving way to hope and salvation. And, amidst the hopeful promises God gives through the ancient prophet is the simple phrase “I will bring you home.” That phrase has so much meaning for me in so many layers:

  • As I care for aging parents and grieve the “home” that I once knew.
  • As I watch our girls spread their wings and scatter to their respective paths and realize the “home” that I have so recently known and loved has suddenly gone the way of winter in an early spring.
  • As I come home from three long days working with clients to find Wendy waiting at the door for me with a cold beer, hot meatloaf, and a warm kiss; realizing in that moment the home that I am so blessed to experience each day, right now.
  • As I wax poetic in my annual giddiness for baseball season and ponder anew the game in which the goal is to arrive safely home.

I will bring you home,” God says through Zephaniah.

[sigh]

 

chapter a day banner 2015

featured image from joewcampbell via Flickr

Dead Sea to Living Water

israel floating in the Dead Sea cropped

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.
Ezekiel 47:8-9 (NIV)

The Dead Sea is one of the more amazing places I’ve visited in this world. Located in the desert southeast of Jerusalem, it is the Earth’s lowest elevation on land and the water is 34 percent salt which is almost 10 times as much salt as you find in the oceans. The saline content is so high, in fact, that you float on the surface which is a surreal experience. It’s hard to stand upright in the lake if the water gets much higher than your waist.

Because of the salt content, the “Dead Sea” is aptly named. Nothing lives in it. It is too salty to sustain life. Which provides context for the remarkable vision the ancient Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, is given in today’s chapter. His heavenly host shows him a small stream of water flowing out of God’s temple in Jerusalem. The waters grow as the stream descends from its Source until it is a giant river. The river flows downstream to the Dead Sea and floods it with Life.

I am reminded this morning of Jesus’ conversation with a woman by a well. Striking up a conversation, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus spoke of a personal, spiritual transformation that parallel’s Ezekiel’s vision of the Dead Sea. A flowing transfusion of living water that brings Life where there had previously been death.

Water and Life go hand in hand. We need water to physically survive. We need living water to spiritually survive. Without it, we become as spiritually lifeless as the Dead Sea. When tapped into the Source, we experience Life that wells up in our spirits and resurrects lifeless parts of our soul.

Today, I’m thankful for experiencing the Dead Sea. I’m thankful for the Water of Life. I’m praying for a deep draught from the Source and an infusion of life.

Weekend Marks Beginnings and Endings

The VL Boys took me to Court Ave Brewing Co for dinner, then to an I-Cubs game for my birthday.
The VL Boys took me to Court Ave Brewing Co for dinner, then to an I-Cubs game for my birthday.

It was a full weekend for Wendy and me. The end of Suzanna’s high school career came on Friday with her last day of school and subsequent choir concert Friday night. Mom and Dad Hall came down from Boone for a visit and attended the concert with us on Friday night along with Grandma VH.

Wendy and I celebrated Suzanna’s accomplishment on Saturday morning with a breakfast at the Windmill Cafe and some special gifts to mark the occasion. We spent some time over breakfast talking about all that Suzanna has experienced and learned this past year. It was ironic that she finished her last high school class on Friday and then went to work at her first job on Saturday night. She’s going to be working at Kaledera restaurant. One chapter ends and another one begins.

The VL boys wanted to take me to an I-Cubs game for my birthday and we did that on Saturday night. It was a gorgeous evening and we dined at Court Ave Brewing Co. on their sidewalk before scooting over to Principal Park to watch our beloved I-Cubbies drop a back and forth affair to Round Rock.

Sunday morning was senior brunch for Suzanna at church as the church celebrated all of the seniors wrapping up their time in the youth group. Upstairs in the church auditorium, where Wendy and I worship, there is new thing happening and I was asked to share a short message and help start the launch.

Wendy and I then headed to our first I-Cubs game on Sunday afternoon. The season is about six weeks old, but it’s the first time we’ve been able to get to a game and we’re looking forward to several more afternoons and evenings watching our boys of summer.

Dinner with mom and dad VW last night at Bravo! We were celebrating Mother’s Day a week late and enjoyed a wonderful meal and time with the folks. We then finished the weekend at Kev and Beck’s along with Taylor who is living with them as she prepares for grad school in Scotland in the fall. A few glasses of wine and a long evening of wonderful conversation.

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 36

Big Spring, a giant karst spring in The Ozarks...

For you are the fountain of life,
    the light by which we see.
Psalm 36:9 (NLT)

One of our favorite places to take guests down at the lake is Ha Ha Tonka State Park. If you arrive by boat and take a leisurely hike down the trial you’ll find a natural spring. The cool, fresh water bubbles endlessly up from the depths of the Earth. I thought of that spring when I read the lyric of today’s psalm about God being a fountain of life.

I also found it interesting that God’s bubbling spring life life comes after a descriptive image of the wicked earlier in the psalm. “Everything” the wicked say is crooked and their actions are “never good.”  In other words, they are a contrasting fountain of stuff that leads to death compared to God’s spring of life.

Jesus said that it’s out of the overflow of our heart that our words and actions spring. Today, I’m thinking about my words, my thoughts, and my actions. Do they  bubble up from an inner spring of Life, or do they emanate from a deathly emptiness of the soul?

Chapter-a-Day John 4

Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Photo credit: Darin House)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (NLT)

On Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, a nice long boat ride from our Playhouse, you’ll find Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It’s an annual summer destination for us. Park the boat at the dock and walk down the winding path along the banks of the cove. Deeper and deeper it goes as the cove narrows. Eventually, you arrive at a natural spring where water continuously flows from deep inside the Earth. I’ve stood there many times watching as water ceaselessly flows from that spot, seemingly out of nowhere.

Today, as I read Jesus’ words I thought about that spring in the Ozarks and all the water ceaselessly bubbling out of it. We call it a “source.” The place from which water flows. What Jesus told the woman at the well in today’s chapter was that He was the Source of Life-giving, spiritual thirst quenching, eternal flow.

What is the Source of flow in my daily life? That’s the question I’m asking myself today. Where is it that I seek after energy, acceptance, peace, esteem, provision, healing, or anesthetic? Am I seeking after the Source in a bottle, a relationship, a walk-in closet, a paycheck, a gadget, a job, or a jackpot? It’s interesting how Jesus contrasted the water the woman wanted to give Him with the flow about which He was speaking.

You know you’re seeking after the wrong source if after a taste it always leaves you thirsty and seeking for more.