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The Source: Desperately Drinking Deeply from God’s Word

The Source: Desperately Drinking Deeply from God’s Word

As the summer approaches and the two weeks of Alabama spring give way to summer weather, I have realized something about myself: I drink a lot of water.  As I have worked in my yard throughout the past few months, I have noticed that I will down roughly one 64 oz. Nalgene of water for every hour that I am outside.  Of course I can go without the water, but the absence of water tends to make my mouth cottony and also makes me loathe what I am doing.  When I have water, however, I feel refreshed and seem to enjoy my work.  Not only that, but I cannot seem to wait to get more water.  Knowing these two binary realities, why would I ever work without water?

Over the past few weeks, I have been poring over Biblical wisdom literature (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon).  Throughout all of the stories, all of the sayings, all of the laments, all of the praise, all of the knowledge, there seems to be one continual truth being expressed: The full and total understanding of God’s work and plan is not a prerequisite for the people of God to be faithful.  In our crazy, confusing, and mixed-up lives, we are often left wondering what God would have us do in a given moment.  Perhaps the writer in Ecclesiastes answers this best for us when he says, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).  The preacher has spent twelve chapters teaching on every joy, triumph, and heartache that man can experience in life, and chooses to sum everything up like this?

My life is full of nuance and mitigating circumstance.  All of our lives are.  Often times I wish that the Bible had the specific prescription for my individual circumstances explicitly spelled out for me.  In my experience as a pastor and counselor, I have found that this desire is shared by most people, young and old alike.  We feel as though the things that we experience are unique to us.  While it certainly can be true that our temporal circumstances are unique, the preacher assures us that, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.  Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?  It has been already in the ages before us” (1:9-10).  So why is it that we get so discouraged in the perceived newness of our circumstances?

My two dogs drink an inordinate amount of water.  Being a good owner, wanting to make sure that they had water in bountiful supply, I bought one of those three gallon, continuously refilling water bowls.  At first, it seemed as though they were utilizing it.  After a couple of days, however, it became apparent that they were not.  After a brief investigation, we found out that something about the tank frightened them and made them not want to approach the bowl.  They were searching for water elsewhere, even though it was there, and in great supply.

For my dogs, their relatively loving owner gifted them with an endless supply of water that had a frightening air-bubble in the tank.  For you and me, our perfectly loving Heavenly Father has gifted us with his very Word so that we might have an endless supply of his Living Water.  Yet, like the dogs, when something goes awry in life and frightens us, we think that the answer must lay somewhere beyond the bowl from which we have been invited to drink endlessly.

The free gift of grace offered to us in Jesus Christ requires nothing from us, save our knowledge that we need him. That knowledge, that fear of God, is more desperation than simple need.  When we see who we are, especially in the light of who God is, the want in us is so stark and disturbing, and the glory and wonder of God is so awe inspiring, that we have no choice but to worship him.  The fear of the Lord is the recognition of how holy and other he is, how awesome and wonderful he is, and how safe and loved we are when we exist in him.  His commands do not provide us entry to his saving love; they provide for us a pathway to walk in this world and a light to keep that path bright.  They also provide for us the means to invite others onto that path, simply by walking faithfully.

One of my professors at Covenant Seminary defines wisdom as “skill in the art of godly living.”  Because God’s love for his people is a gift from him, our behavior will never earn it nor lose it for us.  However, we know that, just as salvation is of the Lord, “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).  Skill in the art of godly living is a gift from God, promised to us, prescribed to us, and written down as water of which we are invited to partake.  Part of the promise of this skill in the art of godly living is that it “will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you” (2:10-11).  This skill that we seek to develop will actually spring from the very seat of our emotions.  The knowledge spoken of here is not simply the head knowledge that we so often seek, but the heart and knowledge of God!

The psalmists write in 42 about a desert deer who is in desperate need of water.  We can imagine from the rest of the psalm that this deer has just evaded a formidable predator and now is desperate not to die from thirst.  The person in the psalm is being mocked by those who seem to call his trust in the Lord foolishness.  Truly this person is walking on the path, through intense darkness, still clinging to the light of his loving God, even as his “soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:2).  God has not forgotten him during this time.  In fact, he has been equipped for just this desperate situation!

The Bible is the means by which our Heavenly Father chooses to speak to his people.  His desire is that we see it as refreshing, so refreshing that we cannot get enough of it.  It is the way that our relationship is defined.  It is the only way we know what to believe about God and the only way to know what we are to do based upon who he is.  It is the way that he has given us to grow and develop our skill in the art of godly living.  As he lives in us personally and works amongst us corporately, our desperate pursuit of the gracious provision of his fount of knowledge is our great hope to continue enjoying our Kingdom labor.