Just as water can bubble out of the ground to form a spring at the lowest point in the forest, it seems that God can bubble out of us at even the low points in our lives.
Uhrilähde is fresh water spring in Satakunta, West Finland. It’s the weirdest thing to watch. In the middle of a forest there is a what looks likes a small dell with a pond in it. The water is crystal clear and is rated as pure drinking water. At various places in the bottom of the pond are round areas of sand, maybe a metre or so across, and they bubble. It’s a little like a geyser, except under water .. and in the middle of the Finnish arboreal forest.
My father-in-law and I were trying to figure out where all the water was coming from, why it came from the bottom and not the sides where the banks were and where it was flowing to. You know, the big questions in life.
We came to the conclusion the water had gathered at the lowest point of the surrounding landscape and was seeping out under pressure at the weakest point. You can see the sand bubbling in the video below. You can’t predict when it will bubble, but one can say it’s going on all the time and the water is completely pure. It’s as good as, or even better than, tap water.
A couple of times (John 4:7-14 and John 7:37-39) Jesus talks about “living water” or “water of life”. In John 4, He talks with a woman getting water from a well. He tells her that he is able to supply water that after drinking, one won’t get thirsty again. In John 7, he picks up this theme again. Jesus is using “living water” as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit.
Strength in weakness
In the second letter to the Corinthian church, St. Paul writes about dealing with suffering. He writes that he prayed for a painful affliction to be taken away, but Jesus replies to him, “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” (2 Cor 12:9). It seems to be that when we acknowledge we are at our spiritual weakest, that God’s power seems flow through us even more. There is so much less of us, our pride and our self-reliance to get in the way.
The fresh water spring was found at the lowest point in the forest. The ground cover over the bedrock is at its thinnest and weakest, so it is here that the pure, refreshing, life-giving water is able to bubble through. The water doesn’t bubble through for the benefit of the pool itself. The water is there in order to flow away as a stream for the benefit of the surrounding forest. All along the stream are grasses, flowers, trees and animals. In the same way, Christians are supposed to be full of the Holy Spirit so that it flows away. The Holy Spirit, life-giving water, is not meant stay only with us, it is given to us so it can be given away, so that it flows out of us to bring life to others. In John 7, we can read that:
Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
We will be refreshed. Others will be refreshed.
It’s a been a really really tough week, so I was interested to see if this revelation would bear out. Turns out it did. I arrived at church this week with absolutely nothing of any use to give. I was very aware of how spiritually empty I was feeling. I was hoping to at least do the sound for band, but there was no band. I couldn’t even hide behind the mixing desk and keep out of the way.
At a loose end, I asked if the kitchen needed any help. 2 litres of milk. Easy enough. Couldn’t see any way I could screw that up. On the way back in two old ladies ambushed me, asking if the Free Church had a meeting today. So, yeah, “Come on in. We’re not really quite ready but make yourself at home on the sofas.”. Once the kitchen had the milk, I rattled around the lobby. People were drifting in, so they got an awkward greeting and a smile from me.
Since we are the summer rotation and we weren’t really expecting to have many people. But we did.
“Alex, can you play a couple of songs?” ..
“Mmm .. not really got my holy-head on today. Let me see if I can find a guitar and music book.”. I couldn’t really have felt less able to contribute anything and I told God such.
“Sorry God, but you’re gonna have to really lay things out clear for me. I’m running on empty today.”.
I found a guitar, but no music books. Good. Off the hook.
More people … “Alex, can you play a couple of songs?” ..
“Mmm .. not really got my … huhhh .. Let me see what I can do.”.
So I fetched the guitar, and God helpfully reminded me of the worship songs stashed on my home server .. Ok, so a couple of songs were picked and played. After the first out-of-time and out-of-tune rendition I looked up to apologise, and saw that Holy Spirit had gatecrashed the service. Folks just standing praying .. umm .. okay … I led a prayer and we sang the next song and prayed a little more. God’s presence was about as thick as I’ve ever felt it.
During the sermon, the microphone sound was awful so I fixed it.
After the sermon I had the privilege to see one of the old ladies, who had jumped on me as I was bring back the milk, become a Christian. Then after the service, myself and another then spent time praying for a couple of deacons who are really having a hard time of it.
So, I helped out with the kitchen team (sorta), welcoming team (awkwardly), music team (really badly), mixing team (yay!) and prayed really hard with some folks who needed it. I felt so useless when I arrived where the church meets (Kaivo), and came home feeling really refreshed having seen God leak out of me in several ways.
It seems that the thing about the spring and living water holds true.