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Stewarding Rivers of Living Water

Image: Mark McGregor

Running. You either love it or hate it. I am one of the odd individuals who finds running to be enjoyable. In fact, long runs in the summer heat are a personal favorite. A few years ago, while running under the hot June sun, I ran past a home that halted my pace. It was a simple home with a beautiful attached greenhouse constructed with glass decorated with white and green trim. It was a rare sight for the surrounding neighborhoods where I lived. 

In front of the greenhouse were long white aluminum tubes coming down from the rain gutters and into large wooden barrels. There was one at each corner of the home. Unaware at the time, what I was looking at was a popular sustainable practice of reusing natural mineral-rich rain water to nourish the surrounding plant life. 

Each time I would pass this home on my runs I was reminded of both the creativity and stewardship of these gardeners. They were creative enough to build structures to steward each drop of rain they’d been given in order to bring minerals and nutrients to their own flowers and gardens, wasting nothing in the process. The homeowners offer a lesson to each passerby to savor and steward the rain that falls—for we never know when times of lack will come. 

Throughout Scripture there are numerous references involving water in various contexts, including metaphors that  center around the water our Creator provides for creation. One Scripture that speaks to me more than any other is John 7:38. Jesus boldly proclaims: “The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of their heart will flow rivers of living water.” 

The tone of Jesus matters here. This is not an eloquent speech or suggestion. It is an exclamation. “Listen! Put your faith in me and my message and you will see a transformation you never thought possible. Like a rushing river my life will flow through you!” I can picture Jesus pleading with those around him to steward his message. To hang on to it. Drink it. Live it. But also to give it. Not sparingly like a trickle but generously like an overflowing West Virginian river.

The faith which we hold so dear to us was never meant to be something hoarded within our own hearts and minds. Nor is it something we use as a weapon to shame or harm others. Neither the prescribed course of action from Jesus. We were created to receive the truth from our Creator with glad and simple hearts simultaneously stewarding it well for others. Does this sustainable practice of faith sound familiar? 

Sustainable practices regarding water have more to do with life than merely watering plants and vegetables with mineral-rich water. It is a practice that points back to how we were created to live our lives. As stewards who creatively take what God has so richly rained down upon us, we make way for rivers to flow from within and pour out into the lives of those around us. All of us are surrounded by parched and weary souls waiting for an oasis of truth to appear. May we be counted among those who have well stewarded the goodness of God and in turn dig a deep internal well of truth ready to be drawn from. Whether it be a smile, an encouraging message, or an affirmation of one’s value—may we richly share what we have collected from God above. Doing so may provide the much-needed oasis for someone in need.   

The next time you ponder what you can do to leave creation in a better place than you found it through sustainable practices; think deeper. You just might be unlocking a mystery to what is needed in your own life. When I got back from my run that day, the water tasted sweeter, I could sense the life in it. 

May the loving river of God’s truth run free and wild within and through you.  

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