Have you ever wondered why two people, when facing the same difficulties, can react so differently?
Some are the picture of hopelessness. They have a perpetual black cloud following them everywhere, and doom seems imminent, no matter the size of the problem.
But others who face the same circumstances are not only hopeful, they are joyful. To look at their countenance you would think they lead a perfectly blessed life.
I’ve often wondered, “What makes the difference?” And who knew the answer could be found in geography?
The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is found in Northern Israel. In Jesus’ time, the area around this sea was a string of thriving cities. And no wonder, the sea was teeming with life! The fisheries of this region were famous throughout the Roman Empire and provided a robust trade.
This was the sea where Jesus found his “fishers of men.” It’s the same sea where Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets to the other side of their boat, they caught so many fish that they struggled to bring them all in (See John 21:1–10).
The sea to the south is called the Dead Sea, and for good reason. Some believe ancient earthquakes exposed the sea to an unusually high amount of chemicals that are incompatible with aquatic life.
The water’s 25% makeup of salt, bromide, and other fun chemicals make life impossible. Hence the name: Dead Sea
Geographically, these two seas are only 63 miles apart. But how is it that one teems with life while the other is famous for death?
If we look closely at the map, we’ll notice one distinct difference. The northern sea of Galilee is fed from the north and in turn feeds the famous Jordan River to the south. Water comes in, water goes out. No rocket science there.
However, the southern sea is in “receive only” mode. All water flows in, and none flows out. Even the tributaries seen to the east of the Dead Sea feed into the Dead Sea.
One sea is full of flow… the other sea, full of woe.
So I got to thinking that these seas are a lot like people, many of whom are Christians, and the water is like God’s greatest blessing for us today, The Holy Spirit.
Those who absorb God’s blessings and Holy Spirit and keep it to themselves are in the “receive only” mode. The Living Water that Jesus promises (John 7:37-39) comes into their hearts, but it’s captured there. And captured water… over time… becomes stagnant water. Clearly, never Jesus’ intention.
Why would people try to capture this water? There are many reasons, perhaps you’ve experienced some of these:
- Scarcity mentality – will there be enough?
- Narrow focus – life is all about me
- Bad theology – God works for me, and God’s sole purpose is to bless my socks off
- Greed – More God = more power, riches, fame, etc…
There are many reasons, but when we boil it all down, there’s really just one motive for trying to contain God’s blessings: Self-centeredness.
Now we have a choice to make: would we prefer to be alive… or dead? I’m not talking physically, but spiritually (though the two can be related!).
I can already hear the resistance: “But I have to cling to Jesus because my life is so difficult.” Well, here’s the irony: the more we try to hold the Jesus in, the more stagnant we become.
It’s counter-intuitive to think that the best use of The Spirit is to let it go, but consider this: even though the Dead Sea is polluted with chemicals, it could be swept clean if only there was an ongoing supply of fresh, clean water.
In other words, the Dead Sea could find life again if it would open up… and let go. Flow = life.
If we are to cling to Jesus, then let’s cling to the idea of opening ourselves to Him, and letting Him flow through us. Love others, bless others, forgive others, be in community with others, no matter your circumstances or surroundings.
The funny thing is, the more of Christ you give away, the more room you’ll have for the fresh flow of The Holy Spirit. And even a Dead Sea can once again teem with life!
My prayer for you today is not just that Christ would live in you… but that Christ would live in you, AND through you!
Who do you know that exemplifies “flow” in their lives? Or where have you seen this contrast at work? Tell your story in the comments below!