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Drinking Living Water through a Fire Hose- Finish it! December 6, 2013

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.
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     There I was on day 19 of reading through the Bible in 31 days and I did some more back when I was doing it, after day 20, but I quit blogging about it and did not reach the finish line of that project.  I quit reading so much every day after day 20, I quit writing, I just quit.  I was like a marathon runner who only goes 17 miles.  No one cheers a quitter, a loser, a failure.  I’ve tried this course before and failed the earlier time, too.

     Today I was looking through my older blog entries and thought, just FINISH IT!  So, there are only 11 days left of the reading program and I’m going for it.  I’m going to pick up where I left off and if it takes me until the end of this year I’m still going to get it done.  Tonight is day 20 of blogging.  The adventure continues.  I confess, I’ll call myself a Christ follower but I follow at a distance a lot of the time.  Like mood swings, like periodic tidal waves or random storms life happens and things come at me and you.  In my life, I can’t predict the random storms, but I’ve almost gotten to where I can figure out the tidal wave cycle.  Almost 3 weeks of drinking that Living Water from the fire hose, then I crashed, saturated.  It can be done in a month’s time, and I believe if you can do it it’s a good thing.  But when I fell off the wagon…   That’s a funny expression, because usually a person who drinks will use the wagon to describe their sobriety, and falling off to describe how they started drinking heavily again, but I fell off the wagon of drinking that Living Water from a fire hose and went back to my regular habits of little sips.  I’m parched again.  Fill me up, Lord! 

     I’m going to finish that race and run the other 9 miles.  Yup.  I got out a calculator to figure out the numbers; it’s not exact, but you get the idea.  So don’t cheer for me when I get there, I’m a year too late for that.  The audience has gone home, and my pulled mental hamstring is healed, I found the place where I dropped out of the race, and now, I think, I’m ready to finish this course.  Just for my own personal satisfaction and joy, I hope I make it this time.  Only 11 days left. 

     “A righteous man falls 7 times.” (Proverbs 24:6-but I won’t get to that verse until day 24, or in this run, another couple of days)  How many times does that mean I’m going to fall?  I’m far from righteous, but I’m trying.  That verse goes on to say “…the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”  So I being wicked, am going to stumble and fall again.  When will I be able to be righteous enough to find that stability when the tidal waves and the random storms and distractions come up?

     But wait.  There’s something I didn’t get until today.  “A righteous man falls,” and a wicked man stumbles.”  It means that Shakespeare was right when he said there were “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” a “sea of troubles,” “heartaches” and a “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”  We are all going to have episodes of stumbling and falling.  But we have to get up, dust off (how many times have I written or thought this?).  I used to think, sure, a righteous man falls seven times, but that for some reason he was better off than the wicked. But no, we all, righteous AND wicked, “grunt and sweat under a weary life.”  We all fall, which means there’s no distinction between the wicked and the righteous when it comes to life- we’re all wicked, it’s just that some of us are saved by God’s grace.  

     To forget that I am wicked is, well, WICKED!  It is a righteous thing to realize every day that I am wicked and I have fallen and failed, and to begin again with my personal pursuit of righteousness, as coached by the Trainer, by which I mean God.  We aspire to be like Him.  It is a hypocritical thing to forget that I am wicked and go about my life as though I were some kind of righteous man.  May God forgive me and help me to remember who I am and Who He is.

     As for my stumbling, or my falling, depending on God’s estimation of my character, I have to pray and ask Him, “In thy ‘orisons be all my sins remembered,” but perhaps it’d be better to ask, let them be in the past and forgotten by Him, but remembered by my tiny wisdom.  And He does pray for us, we know from Romans 8:26.  May God help me to get up again and stay on my feet, whether I make the storm or stumbling block, or whether it’s just part of life.

     This year I mowed my dad’s grass because he had suffered an injury.  He broke his toe, and was recouperating.  He has an acre of land, and a push mower.  He cautioned me, “don’t overdo it.”  Well, I mowed the grass and instead of taking 3 or 4 days to do it all, I did it in 2 days.  Youth and energy, but yes I was tired after doing it all.  It took a while for this to marinate in my brain, but he’s right, and it’s an “aha!” moment.  You can overdo, even doing good things, and when you do it’s time to take a break.  Maybe we’re not supposed to drink from a fire hose.  Maybe we’re supposed to sip slowly, savor deeply, rest peacefully, and enjoy a daily celebration of God’s grace and forgiveness.  I just got thirsty for a while, and then I wasn’t as thirsty, so I slowed down.

     In Psalm 23, The Shepherd leads the sheep who are willing to follow, to green pastures,  beside still waters, and restores our souls.  Those waters are normally still, for easy drinking, not a fire hose.  I took myself away from the still waters to the raging rapids, it’s no wonder my soul couldn’t keep up!  But finishing, if the bard will indulge me, is “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”  I wish it.  I’m thirsty again.  And then, after the finish line, I pray, lead me back to that quiet place again to sip and refresh and restore after the second-wind sprint is done.

     “He restores my soul.”  So after the marathon, may God restore my soul indeed.  And may I remember the lessons learned, not just from the text, but also from the experience of the journey.

          I hear my Trainer with the starting gun.  Are you ready?  Get set.  Go.

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