January 18, 2010

He who believes in Me [Jesus], as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ John 7:38

I keep thinking about the Everglades, I guess because last year at this time Joe and I were there. It really is an incredible place.

Plus, I just read that the National Park Service has begun a long-awaited project there. Construction has started at the northern edge, near the Shark Valley (a great place to see tons of gators), where a one-mile bridge is to be built to replace part of Tamiami Trail. The Trail is a major thoroughfare in southern Florida, cutting an east-west swath across the state, adjacent to Everglades and partly through Big Cypress National Preserve (gators also like to hang out alongside the Trail, as do a variety of birds).

The problem is that Tamiami Trail acts as a barrier to the overland flow of water to the park. The bridge—which will be completed in 2013 and cost about $81 million—is only the initial phase of a much bigger plan. The Trail eventually will be raised to facilitate even greater movement of water underneath.

So what’s the big deal with the water, you may wonder? In a word, life: life for the plants and animals that depend on it. Everglades is not a swamp, as many imagine—swamps are stagnant, and Everglades water moves slowly but steadily out to Florida Bay. That liquid is a precious and much-thought about commodity in Everglades. The built-up Miami area siphons off quite a bit to meet its growing needs. Human intrusion, especially in the form of barriers like roadways, disrupts the water quantity and distribution. This project is one more effort to restore the park’s natural balance.

Jesus promises His “living water” will stream through us when we put our trust in Him; sometimes, though, you and I have got to do work to keep it moving. It’s way too easy to put up obstacles that impede the current of goodness and mercy He longs to pour over us. Often we need to put some heavy-duty plans into action to get us back in balance.

I find it’s sort of like physical exercise. I just joined a gym after years of working out at home with a treadmill and free weights, because I found that practice just wasn’t cutting it anymore. My body got too used to the same old routine: I was basically staying about the same weight (even gaining a wee bit—eeek!) and I was bored, bored, bored! I knew it was time to shake things up before I really started slacking off and piling on the pounds.

Perhaps like me with my change in workout, you need to make some adjustments to get your spiritual juices going again. I know I’m always looking for ways to keep my devotional and prayer time fresh. In fact, I’ve had to get into a different habit to fit it into my new exercise schedule. Any kind of change means time and attention and effort—I had to shell out money and now must leave the comfort of my house to stay in shape, and my whole morning had to be tweaked. Spiritual adjustment can be just as costly.

But like the terrific outcome I’m expecting because of my revamped training, and the good things that will come out of the Everglades project, it’s the results I’m looking forward to—a flood of God-centered water that keeps me coming back for more.

My prayer is that you find that life-giving surge just as refreshing.

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