My interactions with the man left me so sad for him. His selfishness burned all of his bridges with friends and family. In his anger and pain, he lashed out at others, even me, for not caring for him. His bitterness made him ever more self-consumed, which cut him off, even further, from the love he so desired. His lonely misery caused me to remember a desolate place that I visited in Israel 20 years ago. It is a lifeless desert surrounding a “Dead Sea.” That inland lake is about 10 times more salty than the ocean, a place where fish and plants cannot survive. One reason for the concentration of minerals in that body of water is that there are no outflows. The Jordan River flows into it and water is lost to evaporation, leaving behind the salts and minerals. Thus it is dead!
There is a life lesson for us. You want to be filled with life, a giver of life?
Invite the Spirit of God to flow into you and let the Presence of God spill over, flowing out of you. Refreshed, you will become one who refreshes! John shared this with us- “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38, NIV)
We all wonder, from time to time, who will care for me? What if I give away too much of myself? “I must preserve myself, my place, my security,” we tell ourselves. While it is true that we need good boundaries and need to learn where it is appropriate to step away for rest and renewal, it is a deadly choice to put Self first, to take in without pouring out! We can, quickly and easily, become wrapped up in our own agenda, obsessed with our reputation, turning into a person as dead as the Dead Sea.
Paradoxically, when we forget ourselves and give generously – of time, of resources, of forgiveness, of love, of service – we open up to being refreshed by God and the love of others.
The richest joy in life is found in the Presence of Jesus, in the awareness of the Spirit at work in us and through us. We will never find the sense of self-worth we desire in the fickle appreciation of others. Being human, we will be tempted to please others, to try to gain their approval. If that is our sole motive, we set ourselves up for disappointment. The writer of the book of Hebrews urges us to faithfulness. He reminds us that God sees deep into our hearts, discerning even our motives. Sound ominous? Actually, that truth can comfort us, too. He goes on to assure us that nothing done for Him goes unseen or is forgotten. “God doesn’t miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you’ve shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.” (Hebrews 6:10-12, The Message)
Want to be refreshed, a source of Life for others? Invite the Spirit to pour into you and then, go give Him away. Love somebody who cannot love you in return. Forgive that person who has hurt you deeply, giving the debt to God who will ultimately bring justice. Serve, just for the joy of serving, regardless of reward or recognition. Meditate on this word from the Word.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40, NIV)
Abba, fill us with Your Spirit today.
As you pour the living water into our lives,
may we let You spill over to those with whom we walk in this world.
As we know grace, let us be graceful.
Loved, help us to be loving.
Forgiven, teach us to forgive.
Served by Your Son, lead us to the joy of selfless service.
And may Your Name be made greater by the lives we live,
In Jesus’ Name. Amen