It’s easy to justify spiritual neglect for the sake of spiritual production.
That’s a truth I’ve known for awhile but had a chance to really reflect on over the last month. As someone who is well-versed in theology and Bible knowledge, and very busy, it’s been easy to skip my time in the Word every now and then. After all, that knowledge isn’t going to just fall out of my head, right?
Or can it?
When it comes to storing up truth, my mind is not a perfect vessel. Not anymore, at least. Prior to the Fall, our hearts and minds were untouched by sin. We were not subject to decay or the limitations of a broken intellect. Our growth in the knowledge of God was ever-increasing and perfect. Forget about learning the same lesson over and over and over again because you just can’t seem to get it right. Without the hindrances of sin and fallenness, our minds were flawless containers for truth.
Ironically, in a quest for more and greater knowledge, we broke Creation, ruined our souls and damaged our intellect. No longer was the human mind a sound receptacle for God’s mysteries. As a result of the Fall, our souls were punctured.
The reason I choose the word “punctured” is that it’s the best adjective I can imagine to describe my own spiritual decline. When I think of the brokenness of my soul, I imagine a bucket with a tiny leak in it. Very slowly and almost imperceptibly, the spiritual contents of my bucket are constantly seeping out its compromised walls. And at first it’s not distinguishable, especially if I add to it regularly. A bucket with a minor crack in it will always be full if it sits underneath a faucet.
But when I look back on my life, I confess it’s been a long time since I’ve sat underneath the “spiritual faucet,” so to speak. Rather than consistently consuming God’s Living Water, I’m instead content to splash a little in here and there. Over a short period of time the puncture makes no difference, but over an extended period of time, the difference between rate of input and rate of depletion takes a toll.
That is why it’s so crucial to spend time in Scripture and in prayer every day. What goes in does not necessarily stay in forever. This side of eternity, I will spend each day fighting the forgetfulness of my nature. And while that can be a discouraging thought, I am strengthened by the knowledge that apart from the grace of God, that crack would be a chasm. It is by God’s great mercy that we are able to know Him at all.
So while our hearts and our minds are imperfect vessels for the truth of God, we need not be fatalists. We aren’t doomed to know nothing at all. Between the presence of the Holy Spirit and the work of faithful perseverance, we are sure to grow in knowledge and love of God.
For me the issue is not that I’m not coming into contact with the living water, it’s that I’m letting other people splash me with it much of the time rather than doing it myself. I attend church every week. I help run a ministry. I’m in a small group and attend a lunch time bible talk once a week. I go to a weekly prayer meeting. I’ve been working through the old testament minor prophets with my mentor. I finish a Christian book every week or two and listen to sermon podcasts.(I don’t say all that to brag). With all that going on it is tempting to skip on personal prayer and bible reading because I’ve already had bible intake once (or twice or……) that day. I’m trying to get into the habit of being in the bible for myself, not just relying on what other people have learned when they’ve been into it for themselves.
I bet you have no idea that your post references differential equations! I had a professor that made us solve the problem of how much water is in your bucket at a certain time with a certain leakage rate and a certain refill rate, given an initial volume of water. That all to say, I really like your metaphor here, I think it is really accurate of what happens to most people. It is all part of that inevitable cycle of ups and downs we all seem to go through.
Joanna, that’s a great insight! You can only get Living Water from the source!
And Emily, you are hilarious. Leave it to the physics buff to take this to a whole other level! I think your contribution just goes to show the wonderful and beautiful connection between science and theology–we need more of that! 🙂
The imagery is so spot-on Sharon. I sent this to someone I love who is really struggling with a serious family issue right now. Thanks for the challenge to stay closely connected with the Source.
p.s. it was so good to see you today at the conference!