As I sit here in my local Starbucks (my current office away from my office), the snow is falling outside once again. I am over winter...just saying. Of course when I get this way I begin to dream of warm sand between my toes and summer days filled with barbecues and swimming pools. One of our favorite summertime activities is hiking, whether it be in a local park, or one of our many wonderful National Parks. Sitting here in what feels like what it must look like in a reverse snow globe, I find myself remembering fun instances hiking with my wife and kids. One memory came back to me specifically.
A few years back we travelled down to one of our favorite destinations, The Smokey Mountain National Park. The only place you can get a stack of pancakes the size of your head, ride go-carts until you puke, and enjoy some of God’s gorgeous creation.
One day we were hiking on a trail in the Smokey mountains and we came upon a bustling stream. I begin to tell my sons about how the water from these mountain streams was clean enough to drink, explaining nature’s filtration system. I took an empty bottle and began to fill it up with the clear cold water from the stream. As I stood up and turned around, I found my son taking his water bottle and filling it from a dirty puddle on the othe side of the trail. The puddle was a remnant of the rain that fell the night before.
“Woah...son, that is not clean, we can’t drink that”. Confused he looked at me, looked at the stream behind me, then looked back at the puddle, all while asking “why not?”. I could tell he was confused. This puddle was right next to the stream, but it was different. It was both forms of water in the mountains but one was good to drink and the other was not. I began to tell him about the difference between the water in the mountain stream and that puddle, the difference between stagnant water and fresh running water.
We have been talking about living the Blessed Life recently at Nehemiah Church and how blessing doesn’t come from what we gather but what we give. Generosity is a part of God’s character, and because we were created in his image, we live into and display his image when we live generous lives.
Generosity also allows for life to flow through us. Very much like the stream, the more we allow God to give through us, the more vital, alive, and life giving we are. Things and people around us are blessed and are given life. As well, like the dirty puddle, when we keep what we have to ourselves we don’t foster life we stifle it, allowing the blessing of what was given to us to become what it was never meant to be. Not only is it not giving life to others, but it is stealing life from us. What was meant for blessing becomes a curse.
As we continue the conversation about generosity lets pray that God can make us more like the stream and less like the mud puddle.