Monday, June 4, 2012

Of Water and Wind

Photo Credit: Lars Raun

Okay...this is a first. I've never written two blog posts in one day before. But, something about today and the timeline of this past weekend created the perfect storm of revelation in my heart.

After months of this occurring in my life, I've stopped thinking it's a coincidence when I "happen to" read something that is in line without something else I've heard, read or been thinking about. Some people hear God's voice in their head/heart as loudly as an audible voice. I seem to hear him in the confluence of media and meditation.

After I wrote and posted my blog post earlier, this is what I read in my friend, Dawn's book, Driving Through Walls.

"As we stood around the well, he explained it had been closed for some time because of concern of kids falling in. I couldn't help but notice the closed well was surrounded by cacti -- plants that don't need water. I couldn't help but think the church there also closed  up "The Well", for fear of its "danger" and then attempted to make themselves content by becoming plants that don't "need" water. How sad to give up luscious plant life for a garden of poky cacti -- not that cacti aren't lovely to look at, but next to a well?"

And...would you know, this is exactly what I was thinking about yesterday...and maybe didn't quite pinpoint in my earlier post. And truthfully, I'm not sure why I didn't get "all the way there" with my words.

But I had a revelation yesterday at church as the pastor (who is also my father) encouraged us to not fear the Holy Spirit as someone or something that is out to harm or embarrass us. And I don't view Him that way.

But, after being banged up a bit by hard knocks at the hand of fellow Christians who have been filled by this same Spirit and feeling that pain, I realized that in shutting down that internal suffering, I had unintentionally blockaded or "capped" the flow of the Spirit in my life.

In order to keep the danger out.

To feel safe.

To do anything but feel the sting of hurt and betrayal again.

Without intending to, I have become a cactus content with no need for the Living Water.

I'm not saying I haven't/don't need Jesus. I do. I have.

I have just lacked Power. Courage. The "Impossible-doesn't-exist" mentality that doesn't just attract others to propels and compels them to Him.

In shutting off the part of me that would most register and feel the sting of incoming emotional blows, I have unwittingly stopped up the flow out of me that would make it possible for me to dream extravagant dreams, to hope for the unbelievable, and let those streams of Living Water flow out to those around me.

I thought I was just guarding my heart. After all, the Bible says, "for it is the well spring of Life."

However, it says, "guard," not "put up heavy rocks and boulders in front of."

I've heard people say, "the Holy Spirit is a gentleman." Usually they say that to assuage people's fears that to be filled with the spirit means you will roll across aisles, swing from chandeliers, and babble like a baby.

But, I don't think the Holy Spirit is a gentleman -- strolling around in tails and a top hat patiently and politely leaving calling cards for people to get back to Him at their convenience.

I do believe that He waits for a willing and open heart, but I believe that after the door is opened to Him -- all bets are off. You cannot invite Him in and dictate the "code of conduct" as if he is merely staying as a house guest.

He owns the place and invites you to live with Him.

There might be hootin' and hollerin'. There might be things that would embarrass our frail human flesh and ego.

But there might also be resurrections, healings, and supernatural things that defy "common sense."

That's the type of life I want to live...what I've always wanted to live. But didn't realize until yesterday that I had walled myself off from it. Whether it was intentional or not, wanted or not....I've been living with a serious reduction of power flow.

I believe the Holy Spirit is a powerful wind --just like the one that is currently raging outside to the delight of my children. It's knocking down fences (I just finished propping up one section) and creating a sandstorm of fantastical proportions that my sweet babies are dancing within.

They do not fear it
They are reveling in it.
Welcoming it.
Screaming into it and asking for more.

A child is born without fear. We adults try to add in a "healthy dose" of it to keep them safe because experience has taught us that the wind isn't always safe.

It can destroy homes.
It can fan flames.
It can become a funnel and leave a wake of destruction.

But "child-like faith".... It doesn't say "childish" faith. It's not of a child.

To the contrary, I believe that's the faith of a full grown adult who has experienced bumps, bruises, falls and failures who still chooses despite "what reality would dictate" to walk out into that wind again.

Fully knowing the risk, but fully trusting in God's sovereignty.

We need not fear the power of the wind when we understand the One who controls it.

Taste and See...

I am blessed to live in the California Central Valley for many reasons, but one of the best (especially in the Spring/Summer time) is the quantity, quality and proximity of a bevy of seasonal fruit. I literally live in one of the great fruit baskets of the world. We grow and harvest everything from citrus, avocado, berries, apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, get the idea.

In May, we all eagerly watch the roadside stands that populate the country roads and other main drags in town and swoop in and buy huge boxes of red, juicy strawberries and other berries (boysenberry, blueberry, blackberry, olalliberry, etc.) Later in the month, the cherries are ready...sweet, and just the right amount of tartness to tempt the taste buds.

In June, we stalk local fruit stands and u-picks for succulent peaches and fresh ears of corn. Add fruit and seasons...repeat!

But, as with anything, having plenty of something can often lead to a certain commonness that easily turns into taking it for granted.

Sometimes it takes a friend who lives in other parts of the U.S. or the world to wistfully pine for fresh fruit and veggies or bemoaning the outrageous price for sub-par produce. (A local friend of mine who spent some time living on the east coast shared about how she bought avocados to make guacamole for Taco Night, only to realize that the low quality green dip cost her about $25! She pined for the fresh, tasty avocados of home that would have cost her 1/4 of the price.)

Other times, it just takes a visit to a local farmer's market and having your senses awakened to all the diverse colors, flavors and smells.

However, I think that it's human nature to become desensitized to "bounty." After awhile, we come to expect it. Demand it, in fact. It becomes no big deal.

Until we don't have it.

I experienced this firsthand a few times in my life. I, too, have lived overseas and away from the Produce Basket of the world and have sorely missed my May strawberries, and other delights.

But, I think the worst kind of torture is when I missed out on a smorgasbord of wonderfulness in my own home town.

I have spent a lifetime fighting the battle of the bulge. For some reason, I have one of those body types, one of those metabolisms that makes losing weight an epic battle. I have won some of the wars, and lost many more. In desperation, I turned to a well-know diet plan to once and for lose the excess weight. This diet plan is expensive and it's extreme, but people lose weight. I was willing to try it. However, my heart sank when I realized that the success of the plan lay in the cutting out of all sugar -- including bread and other carbs (ouch), but also fruit and many of the starchy veggies (double ouch).

Worst yet, I started the program in I watched as other people devoured fresh strawberries and enjoyed strawberry shortcake. I tried not to salivate as friends and family enjoyed juicy ripe peaches, apricots and plums. I especially tried not to go crazy as giant roasted ears of corn slathered in garlic butter showed up in my dreams.

It was pure torture.And I did lose weight (and I did put most of it back on predictably), but I also decided that a life without fresh fruit is not once I want to experience again.

Yet, even as I decided that, the funny thing is that after I stopped with the diet plan, I found myself....not eating produce. I was sick to death of salads and the few "approved" veggies that I ate for months on end. However, even though I could now enjoy apples and citrus and other tasty and sustaining produce items (it was fall/winter)...I found that I was out of the habit. (Plus, bread was a new best friend.)

As you can imagine, there were other consequences of cutting produce out of my diet. My intestines were not fans of this new way of eating. How could I have come so far from the simple enjoyment the delights of a fresh, crisp apple?

I was remembering that yesterday as I sampled cherries, strawberries and some grapes from a grocery trip the day before. How could I ever have allowed my diet to lack such wonderful fruit?

And then I made a connection....

Earlier in the morning at church, the sermon was about the Holy Spirit and how we need this distinctly other self of God to constantly fill us with his presence.

The delectable and mouth-watering fruit of the Spirit flows from a constant stream of God's indwelling in us.Without it, that fruit that grows from this soul irrigation withers and shrivels up -- leaving our spirits shrunken and in desperate need from the Master Gardener.

When this happens, it's time for some serious measures. Pruning and fertilization consumes us....the cutting  back and yes, the trials of life that stimulates new growth and fruit! And yes, this is when we especially need that water to flow and Light of Truth shining on all of it.

What saddened me the most was the realization that sometimes in our lives, we can unintentionally (or intentionally) stop up the flow of that living water in our spirit. The very resource we need to feed our souls, re-seed the ground of our spirit, and bring health and wellness to our very being is right there in front of us.

Waiting. Available.

But we pass it by. Worse, we have no appetite or longing for it. We have become indifferent to it.

There is good news, however.

God's spirit is always there for a fresh renewing of that water. He is so faithful to help us remove the detritus and blockages that have stopped up that artisan well deep within us.

All we need to do is ask. All we need to do is open up our eyes and "taste and see that He is good."