Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, August 3, 2015

Water on Dust

And David said longingly, Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!  Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD and said, Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did. – 2 Samuel 23:15-17

My friend, Max, was preaching yesterday, so I’m stealing his sermon, more or less -- the less parts being mine.  He didn’t use this text, but it is the one that came to my mind while he was talking, and it typifies the concept of a drink offering in the economy of the Old Testament. 

This story used to always irk me just a little when I read it.  I can imagine myself as one of those three who worked his way through the enemy lines and drew that water from the well by the gate of Bethlehem.  I even know of a well like that from which I drank in my youth and which still gives the best water in the world.  But if I had been one of those three, I would have wanted the king to drink the water.  I just risked my life to bring you a drink, and you pour it out on the ground.  I don’t get it.  What I finally grasped was that David did not see himself as worthy of the sacrifice this water represented, and he turned it into a drink offering instead.  He put it to a higher purpose than quenching his own thirst by using it to worship and honor God. 

We can picture our lives as containers.  The Lord fills us with life and strength, wisdom and understanding, grace, goodness, love, joy, and peace.  He does this through our communion with Him.  We commune through prayer, meditation, Bible study, formal times of corporate worship, but also through our awareness of God’s presence and influence in our daily activities and from the people with whom we interact. 

Many times we find ourselves “drained”.  We pour out all that has been poured into us as we do the things that have to be done every day.  Sometimes the most draining times are not our physical labors, but the demands placed on us emotionally and psychically by other people.  You may not have used this terminology but you’ve probably come in contact with people who are psychic vampires or emotional and spiritual leeches.  They suck the life out of others almost by their presence it seems.  Just seeing them or seeing their number pop up on your phone makes you tired. 

All of us, though, have times when we need encouragement, support, and prayers.  We find ourselves cast upon the strength of others for a brief period of time.  That’s part of the plan.  Still, we can’t just pour back and forth from one container to another. 

There are a couple of reasons for that, and the first is that not everyone participates.  Our more parasitic friends and family members tend to not return anything we give to them.  The second reason is that other people are not our source.  Even when we do get help from another, they are, we hope, a channel of God’s infinite resources, gifts, blessings, and power.  In turn, what we pour out to others is not ours but that which we have received from the Lord. 

If we can see the bigger picture, see ourselves as merely temporary containers or channels of what is being poured out, we will not try so hard to hold onto our blessings.  We will recognize that the more we pour out to others, the more able we are to receive from the True Source.  We will be less troubled by those who take and never give back.  Instead of expecting a mother-in-law or a needy, conniving co-worker to repay us and replenish our reserves of joy and peace by encouraging and supporting us, we will be like David pouring out a drink offering to the Lord, expecting and looking for our blessings and filling to come from Him. 


Rick said...

Excellent post, Mush. Timely and timeless.
The scriptural reference, it seems to prefigure Christ on the cross rejecting the sour wine.
Thanks for this. I tend to reserve energy or worry I'll run out, or something. I'm not sure what I'm saving it for. Afraid of wasting it maybe?
I don't know - now is always the time!

In other news, I'm closing down the main blog. I'll just be using The War one from here on out. I'll post personal-ish stuff there now in between chapters of the book. Or whatever The War is..

mushroom said...

The War is an epic.

It really hit me when I heard it. I am so tentative. Prudence is good, but I think sometimes I call it prudence when it's really fear.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"If we can see the bigger picture, see ourselves as merely temporary containers or channels of what is being poured out, we will not try so hard to hold onto our blessings."

Thanks Mushroom. When I first read this I thought that David was joking or thinking aloud when the three mighty men took him literally, and then David felt bad about them risking their lives for what seemed like a suicide mission,

However, this makes much more sense.

John Lien said...

Thanks for the drink friend.

To play with the analogy a bit, maybe we are leaky containers so we better offer to others because the refreshing drink of the Spirit won't stay with us for long.

Reminds me of what Fr. Stephen posted recently. Our true Person is only experienced through giving of oneself.

mushroom said...

Leaky containers -- this is true, too.