Several weeks ago, I decided to get most of my annual medical procedures done at once. I have scheduled doctors’ appointments, have had a lot of blood drawn and filled out too many forms. I am hoping that these preventative measures are a wise way to take care of my health. However, I have also noticed more aches and pains too. I am amazed how that works. Talking to someone about their heart makes my heart hurt, talking to someone about a sore knee makes my knee hurt, talking to someone with ringing in their ears makes my ears ring too. I find that my friends and I spend a portion of our conversations about what hurts. I notice that those commercials on TV that talk about certain medications that cure diseases you can’t pronounce (alongside with the side effects that are worse than the disease itself, if you can understand the rapid-fire narrator) are more interesting now. However, the experiences remind me that there are many people who suffer daily with various physical, emotional and spiritual challenges, and my empathy grows as I am encouraged to pray alongside them. Additionally, I am reminded that our earthly bodies are frail and have a God-given expiration date, and we are to commit each day to Him. Lastly, our physical bodies can often be a wonderful metaphor of our spiritual bodies and the means by which we take care of them.
Water is essential to life. One does not have to go too long to realize just how essential water is. Sometimes we need water without even being thirsty. The lack of water will often lead to a slow death, often without even realizing it. The poet, king, warrior, David, acknowledged that a tree planted by water is a sign of a healthy and blessed tree; the tree exists without having to thirst and with no need to strive. The tree is able to bear its seasonal fruit because of this water. The tree is a happy tree. Cities, both ancient and modern have been built around access to water. Strife, conflict and even wars have been fought over water rights. The patriarch Abraham recognized that arguments over water were dividing his family and suggested that they each seek their own sources in their own land. Water appears so innocent, so safe, so docile and insignificant, yet permeates almost everything we do, and ignored is deadly.
An Israeli father and son, Simcha Blass and Yeshayahu (meaning YAHWEH is salvation) are credited with helping to further develop the science behind what is called drip irrigation. The basic concept behind drip irrigation is to provide plants a constant and appropriate supply of much needed water, down into its roots, where it’s needed the most. The alternative is often an inconsistent supply of water, which may or may not reach the roots. Droughts and floods are realities that cause much suffering and pain, simply because roots are destroyed. The science behind drip irrigation and its subsequent application has revolutionized agriculture, providing consistent growth in areas where no growth appeared to be possible. A desert becomes an oasis.Sometimes when we care for a plant, we may be guilty of either overwatering it or forgetting to water it altogether, both devastating to that poor little plant. I have found myself with a watering hose attempting to water plants in my yard, only to realize that most of the water never had a chance to be absorbed by the very roots of the plant I am trying to water. In fact, the irony of this is that the plant receives very little of the overabundance of water that I have pointed into its direction. A significant amount of that water is wasted, runs off to pool somewhere, sometimes becoming a small cesspool of odor and bugs. My intentions are good, water the plant; however, the consequences are a thirsty plant, a lot of wasted water, some odor and potential disease.
Nourishing our faith
I have thought about how this principal relates to my faith and my lifelong walk with God. I have known God all of my life. I credit this to the fact that I was introduced to the reality of God by my faithful parents and extended family. The notion of a God who loved me was not a foreign one to me, however, sometimes too familiar. Therefore, I have been intrigued, even at times to the point of doubt, by the abandonment of faith by many men and women who proclaim their devotion to God. These same people appear to sacrifice so much in serving their Savior, they boldly and loudly proclaim His faithfulness in their lives, are quick to share their dismay for those who reject God and are quick to speak of those who live un-Godly lives. However, they themselves fall victim of what appears to be a catastrophic failure of faith and become the very person they were so proud to proclaim they weren’t. Is the drift inevitable; is the failure just a matter of time? Why does this seem to happen? I can’t help but reflect on another Father and His Jewish Son and the model they set for us. The example they set before us on how an intimate, effective and sustainable relationship lasts is more akin to a constant drip to the roots then a fire hose to the branches. The relationship between God and man had become broken, and God’s incredible solution was a personal one, a solution that drove to the root of the problem, the broken heart of man. I am amazed at the level of intentionality that God displayed as He inserted himself, day in and day out, through Jesus, into the details of the life of mankind. Imagine for a moment the countless conversations Jesus had with the person in pain as they tried to explain what was wrong and how He may help. Jesus knew the pain, He knew the solution, but He still listened. He gave dignity to the one with the burden…. He dripped His love, His compassion, His authenticity, His character, His kindness into the very roots of each person He encountered. He does the same for me every day.
Therefore, how do I stay true? The reality is that it’s His strength not mine. I say, surrender early and surrender often. However, it’s also important for me to understand that the day-to-day drip of His promises, His mercy, His wisdom, His correction is far more impactful then the haphazard and frantic search for a quick gulp of God because I have become dehydrated of His spirit. The latter simply does not work and can create a faith that may appear healthy, except upon closer inspection the roots are dying and the faith falters and simply fades away. I’m encouraged to seek out the daily drip of God’s love, His Word and His presence. I have found my journey with God increasingly more simple, less frantic, more rhythmic and certainly more peaceful. Keep in step with His Spirit and your roots will grow, ever so slowly, but strong and vibrant and able to withstand both the torrential rains and the deadly droughts.
Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.
Read more articles by Stephan Tchividjian at: https://www.goodnewsfl.org/author/stephan-tchividjian/