My Getaway with God
I spent this past weekend having a much needed mini-getaway with God. The following is my reflections on this past weekend and all God’s been teaching me (though I’m sure there’s plenty he showed me that has slipped through the cracks) and I hope it can bless you as it has blessed me!
The overarching truth that I’m seeing coming out of this weekend retreat with God is that I don’t have to pray. I don’t have to read my Bible. I don’t have to tithe, I don’t have to help the poor I don’t have to do a single bloody thing.
That’s right, you read that right, despite what you may believe, God showed me this weekend that I don’t have to do one bit of that spiritual stuff I listed above, yet God loves me and finds me lovable.
Despite the fact that I am a broken man, with sins and addictions, pains and past regrets, God loves me and He just wants to be with me. He doesn’t care how much I accomplish for the Kingdom, or how many lives I touch, or how many verses I have memorized! None of that stuff or anything else change his love for me in the slightest, no matter how much I do or do not do, say, think, or feel!
He loves me despite my flaws, faults and failings. He loves me and finds me lovable no matter how many mistakes I’ve made or will make, or repeatedly make over and over.
He loves me so much that He came in dwell in flesh and blood, just like me, experienced the same hurts and pains and joys and happiness as I feel, and saw broken people just like me and He loved them right where they were and died for them just as much as He died for me.
And the joyous, overarching truth is, because of that sacrifice He made for them and for you and for me, we GET to pray. We GET to read His Word. We GET to give our money to serve the Kingdom and help others. We GET to have the Spirit fill us and lead us and comfort us. We GET the chance to be used by the Holy Spirit to be the hands and feet of Christ, to minister to other hurting and broken people, even as I am ministered to by other hurting and broken people.
But we don’t have to.
That’s the beauty of freewill, God doesn’t make us do a damned thing, He lets us make our own decisions, and gave us the ability to do or not do whatever we want, within the physical laws and boundaries of the world in which we live in,of course.
Don’t you see?! WE GET TO BE THE HANDS AND FEET OF CHRIST!!! We get the chance to minister to and love others just as God ministers to and loves us, but we can only do so effectively when we let the Spirit of God dwell in us, and we continually fill ourselves with the Living Water that is Jesus Christ.
When we aren’t so completely saturated in His love for us that it guides our every thought and action, we’re just another hurt and broken vessel in a world full of hurt and broken vessels, stumbling around blindly, looking for love, and happiness and fulfillment in earthly things which pass away, be it money or fame or power, or people, when Christ is offering us Living Water!
Picture it this way: we are all clay pots that can hold water, and each and every single one unique and designed for many special and unique purposes, some to water lawns, some to plant fields, some to be seemingly wasted, pour out in the middle of the desert. Each and every one of us is a flawed water pot however, with holes, chips, and cracks as we go through life interacting with all the other unique water pots.
See, we’re all looking for water, with water here representing that which fills the hole in our hearts and makes us whole and purposeful. Everyone is looking to fill up somewhere, but nothing earthly we try to fill ourselves with (no matter how enjoyable, or exciting or easy it may be), will ever truly make us feel fulfilled. Only the Living Water that is God’s love can fill is up and make us feel whole, complete, purposeful.
Jesus tells is that He is the Living Water and that if we fill ourselves with His Living Water, we will never need to be filled with anything else ever again. The problem is, no matter how much we fill ourselves with this Living Water, our imperfect vessels, with all our cracks, chips, and holes don’t remain full of this Living Water (the love of God). Therefore, we need to keep coming back to the Source (Jesus Christ), so He will keep filling us back up!
The beautiful part about this is that God knows we are imperfect vessels, and He uses the fact that we are broken vessels such that as when we go about our lives, others will see this living water pouring out of us! Hopefully, prayerfully, as we interact with others regularly, they will notice this constant flow of Living Water pouring out of us. Hopefully, prayerfully, they can see that we aren’t running from one earthly watering hole to another, trying to fill ourselves with the same kinds of earthly things as everyone else, but that we are content with the Living Water pouring out of us! As we keep coming back to the Source, day in and day out, hour after hour, minute after minute, He keeps pouring back into us, and we keep going out and pouring out His love to others in a beautiful mosaic of life that is only truly seen from God’s eternal perspective! And as we keep coming back to Him and soaking in Jesus, He begins to mend those chips, cracks, and holes. He gives us glimpses here and there of how he is shaping some part of the Mosaic. He gently whispers to us through the Spirit how we can please Him with this Love He keeps pouring into us.
As we listen to this gentle whisper and obey, we find our own vessel staying full, no matter how much we keep pouring into others! When we stop listening to that gentle whisper, when we stop coming back to the Wellspring of Living Water, and start going our own way we find ourselves feeling drained like the empty vessel we are, blindly stumbling into other broken vessels as we try to fill our own vessels with earthly things again. This in turn causes more chips, cracks, and holes both in ourselves and in others.
Having soaked in the Living Water before, we Christians ought to know by now that it is only in the Living Water that is Christ that we find true love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and it is only the Creator who can mend our chips, cracks, and holes. That said, it is often ourselves and our fellow Sisters and Brothers in Christ that seem to need a reminder the most, and this is why our all-knowing, all-loving, amazing, wonderful, loving God told us to gather regularly in fellowship with other believers in Christ, so that we don’t stumble away on our own, and can help encourage and lift each other up and even sometimes rebuke one another in humility and love in a non-zero-sum way, which is just a succinct way of trying to say that as we pour into each other in the love of Christ, being His hands and his Feet to one another, we find that we are all being filled up with no loss of Living Water and an abundant overflow, which we are lovingly commanded to take out into the world so that all may have the chance to experience the Living Water that is Jesus Christ!
What a Marvelous and Amazing God, who could take this broken vessel that is me, and use it to pour out His love to those around me! May the name of Jesus Christ be lifted up, and may this writing bless you and help you in your journey through life as much as (if not more than) the Spirit blessed me when He presented this analogy to me after my weekend retreat with Him in fellowship, His Word, and specifically Brennan Manning’s the Furious Longing of God.
In the name of Christ,
Derek J. Brent