My sister and family live 30 minutes from Flint, Michigan where lead in the water has become a major concern. Here in the Owens Valley, we know about water’s impact on a community. With this El Niño starting to take shape, if feels like the mountains are coming back to life. And, while water can be a danger and bother to people who are playing or traveling through places where it builds up, we all know that life without water isn’t really life.
As Christians, we have a special relationship with water. Our new life begins with immersion as we pass through the water on our way to freedom. We also look forward to the day when the river of God’s spirit will flow from his throne and all nations, peoples and tongues will live off the flood of God’s grace (Revelation 22). But there is another dimension that we sometimes fail to notice. Just as our Christian story begins in the grace of baptism and points towards the grace of God’s flowing Spirit, water is a fitting image for our daily lives. Stagnant water is disgusting. It grows all kinds of molds, mosses and much that we don’t want to know anything about. The same is true with us spiritually. If we become a pool instead of a channel, we miss God’s power that works in us to transform the landscape. If our channel gets clogged, the flow stops. Flowing grace becomes a stagnant pool and all the flesh, frogs and birds that hunt them die out. Instead, we get mosquitos. But how to stay open and flowing?
God, in his grace has not left us without a way forward. Scriptural prayer and worship are the tools to keep our channels flowing free. Fasting deepens and widens our channel so that a stream becomes a river. It clears out space so that our lives are clear channels through which the grace of God flows to the world. Christian fellowship links up our streams so that we can water and impact a larger area with the grace that flows from God. When we hang onto our need to fee our impulses and egos, when we refuse to fast or pray through our relationship with food, entertainment, friendship, time, and the like, we eventually choke out the grace that God is eager to accomplish through us. The life that at first had such hope and promise becomes a stinking pool where people come to see that God once did something there, but it had no lasting impact.
Do you have space in your life to let God’s grace flow? Is your channel deep, wide and clear or choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life (Luke 8)? We know that our world needs the fresh water of Christ. May we be given over to the disciplines of prayer, fasting, service and worship necessary to keep a life consistently open to God’s wonderful grace.