Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Why is it that it takes so much time for us to receive God's truth in some areas of our lives? I have asked myself this question numerous times. God's timing is not like ours, I am always reminding myself of this and that is one part of it, but another part is that we can be pretty stubborn customers and breaking down that stubborn pride takes His resistance to what we are up to and that can take a lot of time. God is careful about getting whatever it is out of His way so the work will be unhindered. There are books on the subject, but I'm not writing one today. Nope, today I want to share a pretty cool insight God gave me about resistance that came from the soil in my garden. It has to do with water surface tension, which translated for the purpose of my question into spiritual surface tension or surface tension of the heart. It speaks to how this tension affects our ability to receive the water of His word and helps explain the reason why it takes so long for some things to sink deeply in to our hearts.
There was a moment at a recent women's retreat where I felt that "sinking in" happening in all it's glory. It was amazing. It was a head to toe experience that I never wanted to stop. As I was thinking about that experience the Lord drew my attention back to the moment right before it when my soul wasn't really receiving in fullness from a truth I thought I believed. If we took a look we would all have to agree there are those things in us that we know so well we only think we believe but in actuality we don't and because we don't we are not experiencing the fullness of what would happen if we truly did believe them, the fullness of power and blessing God has for us when we do. In God's economy it is all or nothing, faith or unbelief...there is no "sort of believing" and just knowing something is not enough. He wants us to be all in, fulling invested and in full faith believing His promises. He's not into lukewarm or fence sitting, He wants us walking on water with Him, believing Him for anything and everything, because He is God, the God of all things, Creator of the universe, the Great I Am. And I was right there that morning, on the fence, with something I thought I was doing, thought I believed. And God was not surprised nor was He angry with me for not getting it. He was about to show me I had little true depth of understanding in it, the true faith of it had not saturated my being like He desired it to and then take me to a whole new level of understanding. A level of knowing that is beyond the mind, where I would experience seeing in my spirit and then the actual physical sensing of it, that "knowing that I know", and He was going to do pull out all the stops to begin to make that faith deeply mine.
"It Is Well"
"Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well"
Our speaker, Di Endicott lead us in singing this beautiful song, I had been hungering deeply for God, for change in my life, for an empowering breakthrough. As I began to sing these words I put all I was before the Lord and was quickly, but gently, interrupted by "that voice". The Lord asked me, "Is it really? Is it really well with your soul?" Nothing is hidden from God I know this, but I also know how good I am at lying to myself. I was busted, there in the midst of my sisters as we sang my heart was laid bare before God. At that moment with no shame I had to confess it did not "feel well" within me at all. Actually I didn't even have to say it, I thought it, and God wasn't surprised by my thoughts, He already knew I didn't. "Sing it to yourself, tell your soul it is well!" He told me, urging me into unknown territory in His strong gentle way. My eyes overflowed with tears, I choked out the lyrics singing..."Through it all, through it all it is well." speaking to my soul, not to God, but to my soul. "It is well, it is well. It is well, it is well. It is well, it is well, with my soul." The moment I had taken that step to obey, I found mind flooded with an image of my body and what I can only describe as it's spiritual circulatory system and sensed the blockages and pain and then, just as quickly, I was given grace to receive what I was singing to my soul...the wellness of my soul by faith. As I sang out of this deeper place of faith, my understanding opened up and the sensation of wellness flooded my entire soul and body! O, if only you could have seen it, if only you could have felt it! I was undone.
How God does this just amazes me. How I had never experienced it before, I can only chalk up to this thing, spiritual surface tension, that needed to be broken in me by God the Master of all gardeners, through His nurturing care of my soul. At that moment I, for the very first time, fully receive this promised wellness within. It was the very first time I had ever experienced it with such bold honesty and I hadn't even asked for it too which really blew my mind. But the Heavenly Father knew how much I needed to experience it, He knew the lack of wellness within me and He did all He could to bring me to the place where I would be able to receive it. Oh how I wish I could give you what I received in that moment. How I hope if you have yet to, that you will and soon. It is my prayer that our Lord will make it so.
So what does this have to do with this "surface tension" I keep referring to? How does this fit in? As I sat here writing in my journal about the retreat and being flooded by wellness God gave me a very clear picture in my mind of a bead of water sitting on barren dry ground and how it just rolled off and away without sinking into the soil leaving only a damp spot on the surface. I knew exactly what it was immediately, soil surface tension. He was speaking to me about how this image of water being unable soak into dry ground freely was connected to my experience at the retreat. Well that was interesting, I had never thought of there being any correlation between the two. This is so cool.
Have you ever poured water out onto very dry soil and noticed how the soil resists the water and the water just sits on top of the ground in a fat bead and actually will run off without hardly wetting the soil at all? Have you ever wondered why it does that? Why won't the soil just soak that water like a sponge? What causes there to be such resistance between the two when the soil obviously needs the water? The reason this occurs is because of something known as " surface tension" which affects the soil's ability to draw water down into it and it occurs when soils become overly dry. The soil in this state has become what is known as "hydrophobic". This means it is resistant to water being absorbed into it. This happens when the molecules of the water become more dense than the soil. (Nerdy I know) It's sort of like what happens with magnets when their poles are at odds with one another and instead of pulling together they push apart, sort of.
The way to avoid having to deal with soils that do this is to take care of the soil properly by being sure it has good levels of organic material in it (humus) and keeping it hydrated. If the soil does become hydrophobic it is reversible and the tension can be broken, but it takes patience and careful slow watering to get the soil back to where it will do a good job of water absorption. After that the addition of organic matter and basic soil care are in order. Now for the spiritual aspects of this.
There is a similar tension with us, a spiritual surface tension of the heart, and when I look at it in relationship to surface tension seen in the illustration God showed me I can see parallels to what happens in our hearts versus what goes on with hydrophobic soil. There are clearly things that affect our hearts ability to absorb what God desires us to have, things that rob us of that water of life, the water of His word. Things that cause this tension and resistance to those truths that will set us free, those things that strengthen our faith and lives so we are able to produce good fruit. This parallel helped so much to explain why it takes time for things to sink into our lives and it gave me more hope, because God is far from finished with His daughter.
Hydrophobic soils are frustrating and can be troublesome to deal with for a couple reasons, the main reason is the obvious lack of water and a secondary reason is when the soil contains the type of organic matter more prone to becoming hydrophobic and usually is more that way than the soil itself is. Why does this matter to the message? Because what we put into our lives, our thinking and our system of beliefs, will feed our soul and spirit, or not. When they are the wrong thing, or unholy compost as I like to call it, they produce this same hydrophobic tendencies in the spiritual realm of our heart and cause a desert bareness of the soul. This spiritual surface tension resists the truth of God when He goes to pour it into us. This is why God's patience and forbearance with us is so important for us. If He wasn't He would just hang up the watering can and go find another heart to garden in!
How can you know if you have taking in this unholy compost? Get serious, pray, seek God and take time to hear Him! Ask Him for discernment to see the things hindering His word in your life and fearlessly surrender the deep places of your heart, not just those up front that are less painful and easy to get to places...DIG DEEP! The root of the lies we have been led to believe run deep. I pray God will give you the desire to get every last one of them OUT once and for all, to destroy what Satan has tried to destroy you through, because he has tried to. Okay, where was I?
Unholy compost are those lies rapped up in just enough truth that unless we are careful we can fill our lives up with them because they "sound good". Beware of them, these things even in good times are suck us dry spiritually and will leave us thirsting, but in a desert place can be devastating to to one's faith. To be sure, none of us is perfect, we have all made mistakes like this to one degree or another. Go to God when you are made aware of this unholy compost in your life. And remember, God is continually pouring out His truth to us, giving us all we need through Christ our Savior. He desires our best, our blessing, that we produce good fruit and you can bet He'll will do whatever it takes to ensure that fruit comes to harvest in us. Okay, back to the soil.
There is no fast and easy way to reduce soil surface tension. It can't be broken by applying lots of water all at once, any more than we can have that "know that I know" kind of faith by consuming copious amounts of scripture, it doesn't work that way. The method used to break soil surface tension is by watering slowly and steadily, over time, sometimes for several days. It's because it can only seep into a very thin layer of soil and so it has to go from one depth to another to another until that tension between the soil and water is mitigated and the water can be taken up fully and deliver it's life giving properties to things living there. Yes, it seems quite similar to what God does in us over the course of our life to work His truth well into our hearts. Now do you see why God gave me the picture He did?
Surface tension is also why we see flash floods happening in drought ridden or desert areas when a they receive a normal to large amount of rainfall quickly. Flash flooding waters flow along the top of the ground because that surface tension in the soil has not been broken yet. I've experienced a very similar type of spiritual flash flooding in my own life those times where I get filled with emotion as I am washed over with a flood of truth, but my heart is properly prepared to receive it and within hours I am back to where I was, parched dry and unchanged. This flash flooding of our spiritual life is that quick dose of emotion and inspiration we get from hearing an exciting message or what we experience in a really cool worship concert. We feel revived, alive and ready for battle, ready for anything and praise God. Certainly God is changing people there and pouring into them deeply, but so often it's all adrenaline and emotion. Unless the Holy Spirit has done the necessary work to break the spiritual tension within our hearts, those flash floods of truth will flow away into memory and we'll be again standing on the dry ground of our lives wondering why things didn't stick. (Lord have mercy.)
I should also mention this tension in the soil is not just at the surface which is why it is so problematic and takes so long to break. It goes as far down as where ever the soil has become parched. If we believe it is only at the surface we lack proper understanding of this whole of it's impact and will continue to water as if the water will move as it should when it won't. This lack of understanding will cause our gardens to fail to thrive, while we stand there wondering why. And it's all because we don't understand the full impact of that tension in the dry soil, and so it remains parched and dry, physically unable to take up the moisture. Isn't that true of our spiritual lives too?
The continual dryness in the soil of a garden causes all kinds of issues, from stunted plant growth to proneness to disease, damaging desiccation of the leaves and stems, blasting (sudden death) of flowers, lack of fruitfulness and even eventually death of the plants. Does any of this sound familiar to you in your spiritual life? I know it does in mine. There are things I have wondered about that I know God has planted in me that I have always desired to grow in and felt hindered to do so. Same with my personal life too but as I believe the two are intrinsically bound in my service and faith in Christ they go together for me. That morning as I was stepping out in faith, speaking to my soul "it is well with in me", God broke through where I could not in my own strength and did things in me I didn't even know I needed done. And I think I finally know why in my garden here at home we have suffered with this kind of soil problems for so long. God really knows how to set up an effective object lesson. Anyhow, as I thought about that image God gave me I realized it is so like what He did with me over time to bring my heart to be able to receive the fullness of that statement "It is well within me", a verse in a new song we learned that weekend.
I really don't like that my heart can be like those hydrophobic soils and resist what God is wanting me to take in. Understanding how breaking surface tension works sure helps to take the fuel out of my frustration though and helps me to be more forgiving of myself. It gives me a window into understanding how God is at work in my own life. For my heart so needs that soft repeated application of the water of His truth, like watering parched earth, to get it to the point where it will finally sink to depth it needs to go and I will become alive with it and thrive in spirit and truth in that area of my life.
As I look back on my thirty plus years following Christ, I can see how this has happened over and over again in my life and the truth is that it will probably will be for the rest of it too as God breaks into those hidden places of my heart, those neglected spaces and gets to work performing His will in me. Yes, I believe this is exactly how God works in us to bring the living water of His truth into our parched souls, from the time He begins to woo us until He calls us home to heaven. He offers water to the thirsty soul, love to the hungry heart...a little at a time over a long period of time, soaking in a little deeper with every drip, drip drip, until our hearts are ready to fully receive it and it brings forth life in us!
I hope this has given you some food for thought and some encouragement. God works all things out for His glory, for the good of those who He has called.
P.S. The song lyrics quoted in this post are from the song "It Is Well" Written by Kristene DiMarco and produced by Bethel Music Publishing. You can hear the entire song at the link provided above.
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