Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 KJV
This year we decided that the time had come to organize our vast collection of family photos. We put this off for years because in our cabinets lie thousands of snapshots of our own, as well as hundreds from our parents, and even grandparents. Slowly and methodically, we went through our collection, tossing out faded landscapes, faces of folks we do not recognize or wished we didn’t.
At first, this was simply tedious but as time went on and the images passed before me, the memories came rushing back. We laughed seeing images of our children (now in their forties) jumping on the couch, we wept to see faces of friends and family separated by death or broken relationships. Some of our memories are treasures, while others we simply wanted to throw away. As flipped through the pile of photographs, I saw my life in the faces and was reminded that God also has a family album of His own in Heaven.
From His vast collection, He has lovingly shared with us a few eternal snapshots, to teach us the most important lessons of life. From our children, we learned to be patient and to love them even when they failed. From parents and grandparents, He showed us how to face difficulties with faith and respect for those weaker than we are. But from those who hurt us He has given us the opportunity to learn the greatest lesson of all. With these Jesus brings us to the cross where He teaches us to treat thieves as companions, failed friends as family members and those who cause our deepest pain, as people in need of mercy. At the cross God shows us that in forgiving others, He has forgiven us in spite of our sins. Then by His grace He has added us one by one into His family album in Heaven where we will one day see His face forever!
But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:16 ESV
In Jesus’ day, a rain-water cistern was a common source for water. I know about cisterns, because on the farm where I lived as a teenager, that was where our water came from. But having grown up in the city I didn’t realize just exactly how dirty it could become. Then one summer I was asked to clean it when it was almost empty. First, they lowered me down by ropes and then I spent about two hours bailing out the remaining water and scrubbing the bottom with bleach water. I will never forget the mud and other assorted stuff we bailed out, and how great I felt when the following year we had a real well drilled!
The religious experience of many of us is like getting water from a cistern. We go to church on Sunday for a good scrubbing, and then get refilled for the week. After we walk out the door, all kinds of gunk falls in during the week and we need another cleaning by the weekend. But Jesus is offering more than just a good scrubbing now and then. He says that when He enters into our lives, He becomes an unending spring of pure water that leads us to eternal life. Instead of cleaning out and refilling our cistern, Jesus offers to drop spiritual dynamite into our hearts, when we come to His cross. At the cross Jesus once and for all scrubs us clean from our sins and then connects us to the well of living water that gives eternal life. There is no more scrubbing out the cistern when Jesus comes in to drill the well!
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:19 KJV
“Private property”, read the sign by the edge of the pond. “No hunting fishing or trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” But just feet away a stranger sat, fishing pole in hand on the little dock. As the farmer’s wife approached, she smiled and asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh I always fish here.” The man responded with a shrug. “I have permission from, Rita Modei.”
“Really?” she responded with a quiet chuckle. “Well I’m Rita. I don’t know you – so get off my land!”
That true story happened just up the road from us, and it reminded me of today’s verse. Just like that guy, most of us start off explaining our faith by saying something about God’s love. “Jesus loves you.” Or “God is love.” These phrases roll easily off our lips, but in our daily lives sometimes we are a lot like the guy fishing in someone else’s pond. We know about it. We have heard there are some big fish in there, but we have never actually met the owner! Paul tells us that this love of Christ is something that is beyond our understanding. But the good news is that God wants us to know it. He has seen us fishing in His pond and has come to talk with us – but unlike our neighbor, He didn’t come to throw us off His land. He came to meet us. He came so that His love could be lived out in the ordinary circumstances of our lives. He is ready to give a fishing license to everyone who puts their faith in Him. We might be trespassing on His property, but He isn’t looking to prosecute us to the fullest extent of the law. His is a love that is fishing for our hearts, and He invites you to come fishing today!