Living from a Reservoir

Jeremy and boys, nature path

You cannot impart what you do not possess!

This was a favorite saying of Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary.

John & I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Hendricks' teaching in the 1980's at DTS. No matter the class, whether it was "Bible Study Methods" or the "Christian Home," this profound little truth would punctuate the "Prof's" lectures.

In my last post, we talked about Teaching from a Reservoir.  If Dr. Hendricks' statement is true, then teaching (or whatever we are doing) from a reservoir presupposes LIVING FROM THE RESERVOIR -- the reservoir of truth in relationship with Him who is the TRUTH.

So in a very real sense, whether it's parenting, teaching, "friending," "neighboring," working, ministering to others in a physical, emotional, or spiritual can NOT impart what you do NOT possess. And you cannot possess anything of real, spiritual value unless it is received from the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

When I was teaching preschool at Xenia Christian in the late 1990's, one of the perks I loved was Teacher Devotions.  I'll never forget the verse that a colleague shared one morning before class:

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue [tongue of a learner], to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. Is 50:4 NIV

It's so easy to give out and give out and give out again...only to find ourselves running on empty.  I think especially of about pouring yourself out for others!

How do we have what we need for whatever comes our way? Our usual way is to try to figure out what to say and do...or go get advice from a friend or expert, instead of going to Him who has the words of life (John 6:68-69).

While meditating on Isaiah 50:4 one day, the Lord gave me a practical way to apply this truth to my life. It's by remembering 3 W"s -- Waiting, Weaving, and Working:

The verse begins with the Sovereign LORD being the Giver.  That means that we are the receivers! So waiting on Him is key...rather than running around frantically to every other "source". And He has a tremendous promise for those of us who wait on Him:

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31

WEAVING the LORD and His WORD throughout our day.
It starts out morning by morning -- listening to Him. We awaken with thoughts of Him, giving up the day to His care. It ends with thanksgiving and trust for what came our way that day. In between, there can be short, sentence prayers...practicing the presence of Christ through out the day by conversing with Him, our best Friend -- listening and even journaling as we go through our day.

One of my fictitious heroes of all time is Tevye, the father in the film The Fiddler on the Roof.  The reason I love him so much is because of his relationship with God portrayed in that film.  He so easily talks with God -- being very real with Him about his frustrations and desires, truly weaving Him throughout his day.

The classic Tevye is especially seen in his dialog and song "If I Were a Rich Man."  There's a little section of that charming song where Tevye reveals to the Lord that the sweetest thing about being rich would be:

If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack
sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd
discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

Tevye longs for the Word of God in ever growing depths.  Is that our desire too?  As with Tevye, it may be difficult for the longer times of devotion and Bible study, though it's well worth the effort to make that a high priority.   But what about also leaving the open Bible on the counter-top, desk, end table...grabbing snippets of the Word during those "open spaces" in the day?  Playing Christian music (instrumental and otherwise) and Bible teaching in the car, at home, in the classroom, at the gym, on walks/runs could permeate our days with peace and richness that come from thoughts of our Lord.

I love this verse:
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.
Psalm 81:10

"Lord, I'm opening my mouth and my ears, fill them as You promised."

WORKING by HIS strength, wisdom, and insight...
Then with the instructed tongue, the tongue of a learner, we will have the words to sustain the weary ones whether in the home, the classroom, the neighborhood, the workplace, the grocery store, on the telephone, on facebook -- wherever God may place us that day. This will be true because it won't be us, but HIM through us -- as us, His students/disciples living from the Reservoir of the Word in relationship with the Living WORD!

Oswald Chambers, in his classic devotional My Utmost for His Highest (September 2) speaks to this point:

He that believeth in Me . . out of him shall flow... .John 7:38

Jesus did not say - "he that believeth in Me shall realize the blessing of the fulness of God," but - "he that believeth in Me out of him shall escape everything he receives." Our Lord's teaching is always anti -self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a man; His purpose is to make a man exactly like Himself, and the characteristic of the Son of God is self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that counts. It is not that God makes us beautifully rounded grapes, but that He squeezes the sweetness out of us. Spiritually, we cannot measure our life by success, but only by what God pours through us, and we cannot measure that at all.

When Mary of Bethany broke the box of precious ointment and poured it on Jesus' head, it was an act for which no one else saw any occasion; the disciples said it was a waste. But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion, and said that wherever His gospel was preached "this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." Our Lord is carried beyond Himself with joy when He sees any of us doing what Mary did, not being set on this or that economy, but being abandoned to Him. God spilt the life of His Son that the world might be saved; are we prepared to spill out our lives for Him?

"He that believeth in Me out of him shall flow rivers of living water" - hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. It is time now to break the life, to cease craving for satisfaction, and to spill the thing out. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:16-17

For further study look at Luke 6:39-49.  List everything the Holy Spirit "highlights to your heart" about teaching and being a "learner" (disciple).