I am fairly certain that there are many T.V. ‘evangelists’ that would have serious doubts about my salvation based upon this writing and to them, I have no defense . . . Nor do I feel the need to defend myself. Why don’t you go count your money or something, I’m busy.
I am so glad Jesus said, “Out of your innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”
Think . . .
“Innermost being . . .” The ‘agent of the soul’ untouched by the flesh . . . The temple deep within every human being that God longs to open up to the light, tear the roof off of and dwell richly within, waiting for us to commune with him.
“Shall flow rivers.” I suspect Jesus was thinking of the indefatigable Nile when he said this. Combine several rivers and imagine THAT flowing from your innermost being. The rivers from within will never fail, never cease, never grow muddy or polluted. “Living water.” Jesus defines these ‘waters’ by standing up in the middle of a highly symbolic public religious ritual at the temple in Jerusalem and proclaiming, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water."
The basis of this ritual was firmly rooted in the historic actions of God while the Children of Israel followed Moses through the desert during the great Exodus from Egypt. Once when the children of Israel were dying of thirst God brought forth hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, (enough to quench the thirst of over five million people and their livestock.) from a rock . . .
It was during the yearly celebration of this miraculous deliverance when Jesus, (the poor carpenter Joseph’s Son from Nazareth . . . Of dubious birth . . .) spoke this living water word. The Priests brought water from the pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher (Hhmmmm Siloam – that’s where the blind man was told to wash the from his eyes – can this pool be a symbol of Jesus Himself . . .?) and poured this symbolic water out on the altar while the people shouted and sang.
The Israelites believed that Jerusalem was the belly of the world and that the temple was the world’s ‘navel.’
Jesus seized upon this very moment to call Himself the living water. He was the Rock the children of Israel drank from in the desert and He is still the rock we all drink from in our own personal deserts.
This alone is the reason I still hope as I stare twenty two thousand more days of pain in the face. That’s assuming I live to be one hundred, I so hope I do live to be old and gray, maybe by then I will be wise enough to write a really good book on pain . . .
He is the operating agent of life within my inner being.
He is the living water that transforms my broken-ness and crippled-ness into meaning and joy. He is my hope and the desire of my soul. My inner being shouts and sings, “HE, HE, HE, HE ALONE!!!!” He will never fail me, never dry up, never leave me nor forsake me. I love him so.
He is the water from the pool of Siloam poured out upon the eyes of my heart to relieve the blindness of my spirit . . .
In this instance it is not the blind man seeking Siloam but the living, acting, thinking, water from Siloam being carried within the golden pitcher of the Savior’s Spirit seeking to be poured out upon the dry rocky altar of my heart.
Jesus is the great High Priest who pours the essence of His love out upon the altar of my soul. (See the book of Hebrews chapter 5-8 for a complete explanation of this High Priest business.)
How did I ever think that I could find him? He is finding me. He is carrying the river from underneath His Father’s throne in the infinitude of his own Spirit.
He is The great High Priest carrying the living water of Himself inside the golden pitcher of his own sacrifice on the cross roaming the streets and scouring the countryside looking for his lost sheep. My role is to sit silently in my blindness and pray, and wait. He is faithful to find me. He will find me . . . HE HAS FOUND ME!
He is eternally ‘begetting his character in my soul . . .’
He is the magnificently gentle faithful God who as it says in Ephesians , “LAVISHES HIS GRACE UPON ME.”
About two years ago I was playing with my children in the heat of a Saturday in July. It was a massive family waterfight. They had ‘super-soaker’ waterguns . . . I had . . . THE HOSE . . . Guess who won . . . It was no contest at all . . .
They were laughing and shouting, almost pitifully trying to soak me. I was standing there with THE HOSE . . . The water flowing from THE RIVER and endlessly available to me (and them) and flowing at full force all over them, delighting them, cooling them in the one hundred degree weather. It was a great time.
God’s Spirit quickened in my soul this Scripture. Ephesians 1: 7-8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us in all wisdom and insight.”
My boys were wet; they couldn’t get any ‘wetter.’ Yet THE HOSE kept pouring, kept arcing far out over the yard, able to cover every square inch of the yard. As long as they stayed in the yard they could not escape me. Nor did they want to. The heat was too intense outside of THE HOSE’S reach.
Jesus is the living water, the cooling water of a person living in my inner being bringing life, and hope and joy even in, or I should say, especially in the midst of great pain. Though I am ‘wet,’ though I am covered, though I am His and nothing can separate me from Him, still he lavishes his great love all over me. I laugh and shout and sing under THE HOSE of his favor, the outpouring that never ceases because it is impossible that our God, ‘the consuming fire’ could ever cease.
How can Eternal Power and love ever fail? Why in heaven’s name would I ever want to leave his yard?
The experience of broken-ness, of being human, fallen, and essentially ruined in some fundamental way is a universal experience. This experience of universal pain began of course in the Garden of Eden.
Into the midst of absolute perfection and innocence, into the very heart of comfort and repose crept the snake . . . Satan . . . Full of jealousy and hatred for God and every work of God he tempted, and won.
Adam and Eve ate . . .
All became ruined . . .
Sin, pain and death entered into them . . .
They became twisted, bent, their selves became like God, just as Satan had predicted, the very center of their own consciousness. Before, only God was the center.
God, greatly desiring to save them and help them, had no choice but to introduce a deadly enemy into His creation . . . Pain and death . . .
Look at the curses God lays on Adam and Eve. The same curses that we all still toil under. “To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you . . . To Adam He said, Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
Look at the major ingredients here, these are all brand new elements never before seen or heard of. These are NOT part of the original perfection of Creation . . . These are temporary, transitory creations that, like scaffolding around a construction site are definitely not part of the final, eternal picture. These are the major elements that will pass away with the sun itself.
1. “The multiplication of pain.” This speaks for itself.
2. “Desire for your husband.” This is the introduction of power into relationships. Eve ‘desired’ to be in charge, to be the controller. This is the basis of all ‘nagging.’ “Your desire will be to rule over him.”
3. “He will rule over you.” Power as an essential element in the relationship between Adam and Eve. These dominant power games weren’t originally present in the Garden.
At first glance this curse seems a trifle excessive. It looks as if God threw the book at Adam and Eve for a tiny transgression. All they did was eat an avocado for crying out loud.
With deeper study each of these curses bears within itself in the form of pain and suffering the very seeds of our redemption.
I think that one of the worst results of the ‘fall’ was the ‘de-focusing’ of our very selves. In the moment of the yielding to temptation the self recognized itself and as Satan said, we became ‘like God.’ Our own inner beings recognized the thrones within our spirits and we all sat down, preening ourselves on these thrones. We lost sight of God, we ‘de-focused,’ our eyes became dim and we truly began the destructive process of living only for ourselves.
The only way out of this selfish pit is the path of trouble As suffering enfolds our lives, as each of these ‘curses’ comes down upon our lives, our ‘selves’ are brought face to face with the reality of our true unimportance. The stars do not worry, they don’t tremble when one of us gets sick, is in pain, or dies.
This is an insult to the self on its own throne, the ‘I’ that sees itself in every situation. How is it that we get embarrassed so easily? It is because we see ourselves as on a stage all the time. During worship we are afraid to lift our hands or kneel down because, “Everyone will see me.” We truly believe “‘Everyone’ is watching ‘me.’“ In reality everyone else is too pre-occupied with himself or herself to really notice.
We sit enthroned, idolatrous creatures rebelling before our Maker.
The true, ‘unfallen’ state that Adam and Eve enjoyed was one in which the self was totally unaware of itself. The soul was in complete contact with God, and in the process knew itself fully. There was only a sense of wonder and the abiding presence of God. This is a state in which embarrassment is not possible.
Now the soul is lost to both itself and God. It is no longer possible for us to ‘know our own souls.’ Into this intolerable brokenness steps God’s ugliest, yet most faithful enemy/servant: pain.
Pain is so humiliating to the self. Especially chronic, continuous pain. My ‘self’ enthroned in my inner being is outraged that God, (my magic genie in a bottle) is unwilling to heal me. As important and huge as I seem to myself, continuous pain sends an important message to my inflated ego.
God seems to say to me. “You, you are nothing, you are utterly insignificant, you are not important and I’m not moved by your difficulty.” While this may be true in relation to my physical discomfort, the crucifixion reveals his love for me in such a fantastic manner that I cannot ever completely despair of his love for me.
My self fades, and fades, and fades until all I can see is His supremacy . . .I realize now that I truly am not important . . .
When God finally answered Job out of the whirlwind He didn’t explain Himself, or defend Himself. Instead He attacked Job’s ‘self’ on the throne of his heart. “Who is this that darkens counsel?” God proclaims, “Gird up your loins like a man.” (A little sarcasm to cut Jobs self lower . . .) “I will ask you, and you instruct me!” Oh that’s gotta cut deep, Job.”Where were you when I laid the foundation? Tell me if you have understanding?”
God then proceeds to lay out a partial list of everything that only He can do. “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?” “Can you bind the chains of the pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion?” Check it out for yourself, Job chapters 38-41.
I think it’s important to look at Job’s two-fold response to this speech from the whirlwind. (This speech, by the way, is the longest first person declaration to a man from God in the entire bible. Interesting that God’s longest ‘speech’ to men is made in response to horrible suffering. All the rest of His words are spoken through His intermediary prophets.)
God, without regard for Job’s feelings buries his ‘self’ completely underground, then plows it out of hiding and finally pins it to the wall.
Job’s first response comes after a chapter of God’s declaring, bragging it almost sounds like, about his owns mighty power. “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Oooh Job, that’s gotta hurt.) “Have you entered into the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in the recesses of the deep?”
Who could answer any of this?
After God carries on and on so eloquently about His own mighty power, Job from underground, still in hiding says, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to you? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; twice, and I will add no more.”
This seems like a position of humility but it still isn’t enough for God. Now Job has only been humbled. Hiding from God is not God’s desire for His children. Job decides to hide from God. Job is saying, “I now shut up. I now retreat into complete non-being.”
Job’s ‘I’ is now completely abased and on the very edge of erasure. Job chooses absolute obscurity. It is as if he is saying, “I will not speak, think, complain or be . . .” I believe the eastern religions call this place nirvana, or the place of nihilism, the place of fruitless silence. Job was choosing bitterness and stoic silence . . . A completely joyless, relationship-less martyrdom.
This position still isn’t the proper man-God relationship that God desires.
After all this odyssey of pain Job still hasn’t ‘gotten’ it. Intent on accomplishing His purposes with Job, God launches off into another description of His power as demonstrated by His creation.
“Leviathan . . .” (A symbol of God’s infinite power.) “Who will pierce his jaw with a fishhook? Lay your hand on him; remember the battle; you will not do it again!”
God seems quite willing to carry on like this for a long time until Job gets the point.
God wants his heart more than he wants his silence.
More than God wants me to quit whining and complaining about my pain he wants me (and Job in his day) to be in relationship with him.
Job finally proclaims his willingness for relationship with God. Job says, “I know you can do all things, and no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Hear now and I will speak; I will ask you, and you will instruct me. I have heard you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
Finally pain and the curses brought about by the result of the fall have transformed Job’s inner ‘I’ into a true man. Job now both knows his own insufficiency and insignificance, and he knows the love and relationship with God resulting from repentance.
Job is at last willing to take God on his own terms. He is finally ‘weaned’ from the warring elements of his desire for comfort and he finally expresses his desire for God.
Just to rest in God. Just to be his, at any cost. Just to know him. “I will speak, and you will listen.” I picture Job at this point physically turning over. Up until now he has been prostrate, face down in God’s presence. At last now he turns over, (curious how most people die on their backs and not their faces . . .) and faces God.
Now I too, with the dry choking dust of the desire for non-being still coating the inside of my mouth (“cursed be the day of my birth”) choose the cleansing taste of the living water of Jesus’ presence.
This moment I repent from despair and the refuge of complete silence, and choose to open up my inner being to His inspection and His communion.