Stories from the Cleft-5: The Thank-Full Heart.
If you care to see the context for these stories or review where we’ve been along the journey, please check out The Training Table Archives section of Feast of the Heart. Be sure to recall the Bible passage from Exodus 33:12-23; 34:29-35 where the story of Moses and “the cleft in the rock” can be found.
Before we dig in, please forgive me for leaving out an important segment of the last feast at The Training Table, “Prayer: Re-Creation of the Grandest Kind”, February 16th, Resources on Prayer (bottom of the page). I hope you find them helpful. I’m sure you have some great references on the subject of prayer as well.
“The Thank-Full Heart”… Pondering While on a Pedal
As I was on a longish bike ride thinking about the menu for today, I was letting my body and heart spin free in the warmed winter air. It was glorious! In this familiar and blessed state, I’m intentional about opening myself to listen for ideas, melodies, chirps, and trills, to look for symbols and signs, to smell the air for clues, and to empty my mind of anything connected to my worldly to-do list.
“A thank-full heart… hmm…”, I said to myself while deeply breathing in, standing up out of the saddle, stretching the hams, the achilles, the small of the back, and preparing to slide back and tuck-in for a steep downhill.
A favorite stopping point to take in a familiar and peaceful view was coming up at the bottom of the long hill. As I gazed to my right to slow down and balance on the bridge and rail over a narrow section of road, I noticed a car coming up from behind. But before I continued on beyond the bridge (so the car could safely pass by and I could then hang a u-turn to come back to the bridge) I glanced down at the large POOL-FULL of water. “Huh… a THANK-FULL heart…” drifted through my mind.
After allowing the car to pass by, and then turning ‘round to ride back to the bridge, I now settled downstream, on the opposite side of the bridge, resting my cleat on the rail, sitting up, and grabbing my water bottle for a swig.
It was then that I first heard the answer to the whole story: The gurgling… gurgling… gurgling… of the stream running THROUGH the narrowed channel of rocks and debris just downstream from the POOL-FULL above. That’s it! I captured a picture (inset) to offer you today.
God had blessed me from the cleft! Yes, at first glance, where the water pooled-up… in a POOL-FULL on the other side of the bridge, it appeared “THANK-FULL” to me. Now, listening in joy and staring down in with a broad smile on the opposite side, I heard a sound that reverberated through my soul as it had for many years while living in the Rockies and visiting hundreds of places around the world where “the river runs through it”! The gurgle was such a sweet sound and symbol…
I whispered to myself, nearly choking on a hiccup of emotion, then a teardrop pooling in my eyes, “YES! The most thank-full heart is the heart where God first runs TO it… SO THAT God then can flow THROUGH it!”
“Yes. Not simply TO it… but THROUGH it… and on to others in its circle of concern and influence!” I had made all the difference to have been blessed by slowing and glancing on one side of the bridge, and now on the other side: A step along my normal ride through this place that I had never taken before.
The Gurgle Gave It Away!
Please jump in and relish this exciting view of God’s glory about the key to a thankful heart that I so enjoyed from the cleft. It consists of at least a few points:
FIRST, as soon as I heard the sweet melody of the GURGLING stream… I remembered that a thankful heart BEGINS by God’s grace supernaturally regenerating what was DEAD to make it ALIVE. But, that is only the beginning… the means… not the ends!
“The GURGLE” (I just love to say and hear that word…) is the sound of other hearts “downstream from each born-again, Spirit-filled heart” all enjoying the truth and love of The Trinity, in community, and letting it flow on downstream from there.
“The GURGLE” is The Community of the Saints: “God’s love and truth flowing through the lumpy, bumpy, each unique twist and turn, the wonderful conduits”… of other hearts, emotions, and lives. The stream of God’s love and truth… “devoid of the lumpy-bumpy gurgles”… is not love at all (1 Corinthians 13—taken in its proper context: an excoriating rebuke to the church at Corinth).
“The GURGLE” is each interaction and conversation of encouragement, care, ministry, charity, long-suffering, kindness, sacrificial generosity, and loving truth-telling to anyone in need. Gurgle, gurgle… listen to God’s love and truth flow through the hearts of other lives… Let it flow!
Being THANK-FULL is all about BEING FILLED AND EMPTIED… In that order, and nearly at the same time. A watering can is designed to… say it with me now: WATER!
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). Flow… gurgle… to all others in our midst.
Please consider what “the gurgle of God, the Good News of the Gospel” sounds like in your life. Can you hear the gurgling each day? Perhaps this very request is met with a “pooled-up silence” that’s disturbing to you. Perhaps not. Either way, we must pay attention to this issue, lest our hearts begin to swell… And NOT in the way we might hope!
(For “Biblical Gurgling” , please see: Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 10:45; John 15:1-17; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 2; Hebrews 13:15… lots more.
Second, as soon as I heard the sweet melody of the GURGLING stream… I recalled the pooled-up water upstream: Quiet. Still. Apparently motionless. Dare I say, stagnant? Putrid. Useless. Dead.
Lovingly and truthfully offered, my fellows feasters, far too many people, Christians as well, and myself included, misinterpret God’s redeeming grace as a self-help program… that begins with ME… and ends with ME.
When God’s redeeming power is “pooled-up” (not passed along or constricted for any number of reasons) it will slowly but surely begin to stagnate, languish, and “turn inward” and silent—akin to the rot of conflicting ambivalences and warring motives—until either legalism and/or license begins to define the heart, emotions, and life. Please listen carefully to this last sentence… it’s “a sentence for spiritual death”: Defined by the ecosystem of God’s redemptive plan, not me.
(For “Biblical Pooling-Up” , please see: Proverbs 21:13; Haggai 1:9; Romans 15:1-3; James 2:16; Philippians 2:4, 21; 1 John 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:24; 2 Timothy 3:2-4; Galatians 5:26, 6:2… lots more.)
Third, as soon as I heard the sweet melody of the GURGLING stream… I thought of a passage from the Book of Romans that has been a life-changer for me for a long while now, Romans 1:18-32: the Bible’s consummate passage on sin… heart disease… a living death. Please, as a lover of each heart gathered ‘round this table, please allow me to point out the one most important aspects of this passage: Suppressing God’s truth (“pooling-up” as it were) results in unthankfulness, ingratitude, and SO much more!
“For although they knew God (“in the stream”), THEY NEITHER GLORIFIED HIM AS GOD NOR GAVE THANKS TO HIM, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles” (vv 21-23… to verse 32 for the harvest of hell that comes from the un-thank-full, hardened heart–parenthesis added).
“Go for The GURGLE!”
Please use whatever means you can—and you can’t without God’s Bible, a Bible-gulping-gushing church, a community of Bible-loving friends, and sacrificial gurgle-service in the name of Jesus—to evaluate “the gurgle of God’s love and truth originating from your heart”, my friends.
And please don’t misunderstand my hope here: “the Gospel flowing gurgle” does not have to sound like Niagara Falls every moment of the day. If you’ve been born-again (or even by God’s common grace… but go for the full meal deal!) you have the capability, given you by the source of living water, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to impart the gurgle of God’s love, truth, and encouragement to everyone God places in the stream of your life, “TODAY… (Psalm 95:7-8).
May God richly bless the sights and sounds of God’s gurgling through you,