Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Muddy Water

Very often as we deal with the problems that confront us, it seems that life is like a bucket of muddy water. The harder we strive the more we stir things up. Many of life's most difficult problems are made worse by our frantic, hurried efforts to solve them with our own limited means; sometimes our misguided efforts actually cause the problems we are trying to escape.

A long time ago, I learned an important lesson. When I dipped up a bucket of slightly muddy water, there was nothing at all that I could do to clear it up. Pouring it carefully from bucket to bucket, stirring it, and even boiling it would not rid it of the unwanted particles. But if I would fill my buckets at night, and just let them sit still till morning, I could then carefully dip out some very clear water. I could see the mud sitting quietly on the bottom of the bucket. I could never do this by myself no matter how hard I worked at it. In fact, the harder I worked at it the more I muddied the water. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" Isaiah 40:31.

Looking back on my own life from the perspective of age, I recall too many times when my own impatience and hurry to solve problems has only made them worse or created new ones. The solution to many problems is like the process of healing a wound. It simply takes time, and the most important thing we can do is leave it alone- picking at it only delays the healing. 

I remember a fine horse that suffered a serious leg injury. Friends told me there was nothing I could do for it; I would simply have to put her down. About one thing they were right: I could do nothing for her. But it was wonderful what the natural processes of healing did for her. I simply turned her out to pasture with good food and rest, and in several months she was completely restored.

The writer of the fortieth Psalm says: "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry." Possibly the most important word here is 'patiently'. Sometimes it takes a while for muddy water to clear. And sometimes we are so concerned with making things happen that we have a hard time waiting patiently while we let things happen. God is busy even when we are not. God's action in our lives can be like seed that is planted in the ground, that can sprout and grow and mature even while we sleep and go about our daily tasks, although we do not know how God does it.

Often a troubled person coming into my office with a problem will begin by saying, "I'm all mixed up." That is a good description of a troubled spirit and confused goals in life. It is amazing what God can do with a little time of stillness. We are the ones who do the stirring and mixing. God's power can work in ways quite different from our ways. Sometimes just overnight He can settle out the mud and let the water of our lives come clear again.

-from The Open Gate, by Don Ian Smith (used by permission of the heirs)

(Photo from Google Images)

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