During the heat of the day in the Cascade Mountains, I have the choice of jumping into a nearby pond or a small river that runs through the property. I skip the pond and dip my toe into the chilly river. The Little Deschutes River is very clear. I can easily see smooth stones and an occasional small trout by my feet. The pond that I skipped over, looks somewhat clear until you step in. If you do step in a cloud of muck will quickly envelops everything around you. What might be tempting on a hot day, what looks at first glance to be a refreshing pool, is no more than a pot of murky sludge.
Rivers flow. There is a natural cleansing that takes place as water flows over rocks. Ponds just sit still. Sludge, sediment, I just don’t care for it much. A Muslim friend has recently taught my husband how to make Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is OK until you get to the bottom of the cup. But because no filter is used in the brewing, if you drink to the bottom of the cup, you will end up with a mouth full of grit. Some cups of coffee, like stagnant ponds, have this same problem of unwanted sediment.
When things aren’t flowing, sediment has a way of building up. And things can get mucky.
Early on in ministry, I had no idea how to be a pastor’s wife. I was one of these girls that fell in love with a guy that was called into ministry, so I was headed for the ministry too. I watched quietly as God used my husband to change lives, and did my best to support him. I kept my personal dealings with God private, just letting them settle in my heart, like grounds in Turkish coffee. I rationalized my privacy, my lack of public participation in ministry by telling myself,
“I’m a shy person.”
Or this one,
“My husband is the minister, not me.”
I lived my life more like a pond full of sediment than a free flowing river. With 10 years of sediment settling in my heart, I realized one morning while living in Hong Kong, that my habit of keeping things private was not helping anyone. I remember saying to myself, “No one will be ministered to if I don’t engage.” I was tired of being a pond full of sediment. I wanted to be a flowing river. I wanted God’s living water to flow through me and out to others. I don’t care much for sediment. Not in ponds, or in coffee, or in ministry.
When the temple guards attempted to prematurely arrest Jesus in John chapter 7, Jesus proclaims on the last day of the feast,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said streams of living water will flow from with him, by this He meant the Spirit…” John 7:37-39
My faith is personal, but it’s no longer private. To avoid having a pile of sediment in your life, allow His living water to flow through you and out to others. I think they call that ministry. Our faith is personal, but it’s not private.