Thursday, July 8, 2010

Living Water

Luke and I have been talking a lot about water lately. I think the conversation started when we first went to Nashville after the worst flood to ever hit that region devastated so much of that city. We went there to help the people who had lost everything and tangibly show the love of Christ to strangers who we considered to be neighbors. We showed up just days after the waters receeded and were in absolute awe of what we saw. It was shocking. Entire neighborhoods had been submerged under a sea of muddy river water, raw sewage, and toxic sludge. Piles of debris stood taller than the homes. People were dragging their ruined treasured posessions out of their homes and piling them into giant "trash" heaps on the sides of the roads. Appliances, toilets, couches, mattresses, photo albums, toys, dishes, carpet, and drywall littered the streets as people gutted their homes to try to salvage the shell and foundation of a home they may someday be able to rebuild. It was a warzone. Unlike anything I had ever seen. Luke and I were speechless as we drove through the town just gazing on the destruction. "Oh my gosh," was all we could say - over and over again. Then silence. Then, "Oh my gosh."

That was when our conversation began. We were amazed at the power of the water. Water had done all of that damage. A powerful rush of water flowed through that city, submerging homes, piling cars into stacks ten high, overturning sheds and trailors, uprooting trees, and destroying everything in its path. That force of water made everything in its path conform to its direction, and it left nothing in its wake unchanged. The entire landscape of that city was altered - all because of the water.

As the shock wore off and we began to observe the massive volunteer effort that arose almost instantly, we were impacted even more intensely. People came from all over and just started working wherever they saw a need. Neighbors who were spared walked through neighborhoods with their tools and cleaning supplies and began working on any house they saw. People like us traveled from other states in cars filled with supplies, found devastated homeowners and just started working. Some walked the streets with food, feeding the victims and the volunteers. Others passed out bottled water to ease the burden of those enduring the scorching summer temperatures. Some walked into random houses with dollies and started hauling out ruined appliances and furniture, never having met the person who lived there. Women found children wandering aimlessly around their yards and began to care for them while their parents worked in the toxic and dangerous environment that used to be their living rooms. More women collected salvagable clothing and began doing laundry wherever they could find a working machine. People whose homes were spared opened their homes and spare bedrooms to victims and strangers like us coming to help. Churches from all around banded together to pour thousands of volunteers into this devastated community, organizing work days and coordinating relief efforts.

It was all so natural. Nobody had to be told where to go or what to do. There was no government intervention and no visible leaders making things happen. No structure. No order. It was just a natural flow of loving people filling gaps and meeting needs for hurting people. It was countless volunteers flowing through a community filing into every available space and picking up a task. You couldn't tell where it all began or where it ended. it was just so... fluid. Like water. It was an amazing sight to see. I was deeply impacted by what I saw on that trip - in both the massive destruction AND the incredible movement of sacrificial love. And it all started with some water.

After we got home, we began evaluating the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit of God and how he is the source of life-changing phenomenons. It was the Holy Spirit who sparked a flame in our hearts and prompted us to go to a flooded city. It was He who called us to go and share the love of Christ to heart-broken people. We answered that call, and in the process, lives were transformed - both the victims we helped and even our very own. Something happened as we wrapped our arms around those who had lost everything and prayed to Almighty God on their behalf. We were able to love those strangers like we had known them forever. I saw a spark of hope in their tear-filled eyes. We felt something supernatural at work as God connected our hearts together and joined them with His in a moment of grace. It was the work of the Holy Spirit. It was something that far too many Christians miss in their daily routines of simply going to work, going to church, and going to potlucks. It was empowering. Faith-building. Energizing. Electric. It was awesome to be right in the middle of something God was doing. It was amazing to watch Him work. It was something I wanted to experience over and over again.

As Luke and I began to look closer and deeper, studying and reading about the Holy Spirit together, we were reminded that the Bible refers to Him as "Living Water". In John 7:37, Jesus says, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." He goes on to say that out of the hearts of those who believe and follow Him will flow rivers of "living water", refering to the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit in us satisfies us and causes us to thirst no more. It's a supernatural drink that quenches not only our own thirst, but the thirst of others as "living water" pours out of our hearts and into the lives of those we encounter.

No one can live without water. It's essential. Water sustains life. Water satisfies the thirsty. Water is powerful. Water nurishes. Water causes growth. Water is constantly moving and never stagnant. Water flows with purpose and direction. Water fills every empty and available space. Water has the power and force to turn things upsidedown and change the entire lanscape of a city. I want my life to be filled with living water. I want to be part of a liquid church. I want this world to be filled with streams, rivers, and oceans of the living water that flows from One source - the Spirit of the living God.

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