A few vital things.
During my trip to the Holy Land I'm asking God to show me and my son much more than history...we can read history. As pious as this might sound, I'm asking God to give us illumination. I want God to bring living color to what I believe. In many ways, all that I know about God, Jesus and the Bible has been somewhat like watching black and white TV. As we take in the sights here, it’s like God is converting what I know from black and white to HD.
One of the moments of illumination came today as we talked about the fact that for a few millennia, the Israeli people have staked their lives on the body of water known as the Sea of Galilee. It is their only true and reliable source of fresh water other than a few natural springs. This lake is vital for life to thrive in Israel. This is partly why this land and it's vital water source is protected so vehemently. Here's where God got my attention. There are a precious few things that serve as the source of life, vitality and success in our lives. If we plan to live the lives God designed us to live we must recognize those few, vital things and protect them at all costs. The bottom line for Israelis is a simple question of ensuring a sustainable source of clean water.
This principle holds true in your life and mine. What are those few, vital things? What gives you life and joy and peace? What strengthens you to press on another day? What fuels your best life? Here are a few examples from me…
1. The sustenance of God's Word. This is more than reading the Bible, it is what a professor said to me once, "we must let the Bible 'read' us!" For anyone who claims to follow Jesus and pursue truth God's Word, is a vital source of sustenance. Your spiritual life will dry up and your life will bear out the effects of a drought of that sort. God's word, AKA the Bible, is more than a novel, a collection of stories and wise sayings. The Bible is the source God uses to instill His will and His ways in our lives. It means reading it and also allows the Scriptures to "read" you. In other words, to view God's Word as a mirror to gain clear reflection of how God is shaping me into the man He wants me to be.
2. The thirst quencher of friendship. I simply don't get enough time with friends. Busyness becomes my nemesis and I just don't get the kind of time I know I need to hang with people who love me and make it enjoyable to love in return. Tonight, for instance, I spent and extra 2 hours just talking at the dinner table with coffee in hand and enjoying the blessing of friendship. There were no earth-shattering truths discovered but knowing you are loved as you are is a life-giving thing.
3. The sure hope of discipline. A trustworthy source of water provides people with a sure hope for the foreseeable future. Hope is a confident understanding and step if faith that knows the future will get better. God has a special way of delivering that sure hope into our lives. Discipline. Discipline is not the only source of hope for Christians; however, hope is certainly built through discipline. Discipline gives you confidence that your emotions are not in control. Discipline gives you a sense that the lazy, foolish and weak part of you can be subdued. This time of year, everyone is trying to re-install discipline in their lives. For many that will involve a new diet or fitness club membership. To some degree we don't like what we've become physically and we want to change the future. I would strongly advise you to start with the top of this list and work your way down. Discipline without the tempering of God's word can turn a goal to lose a few pounds into a venture driven by vanity versus the lasting motivator of honoring God with your body. Or suppose you want to kick an unhealthy habit this year, without the help and encouragement of a few trusted friends, you will likely fail.
There is a great need in our lives to recognize what it is that brings us life. We need to resist the temptation to "boil the ocean" and start with some of the larger, more important, first steps. What is your Sea of Galilee?