2. The Fountain of Life

Posted Dec 31, 2017 in Identity Wars
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It had been a long day at work. We were in the final stages of preparing a budget – actually about ninety budgets that had to be merged into one. It was a delicate process, carving up the available income amongst all the ambitious managers, each wanting, hoping, even demanding a bigger slice of the pie to achieve their goals. My mind was trying in vain to push all these figures out of my head when suddenly the phone rang. “Hello… It’s Dad, son.” Dad sounded like he had the empire state building on his shoulders. “What’s up Dad?” “Mum’s been in a serious car accident.” Those words hit me like a sledge hammer. I immediately began to shake and my heart rate literally doubled in a flash. My muscles went taut as an adrenaline rush took over my body. “Accident?” I almost whispered into the phone trying to hold it steady. “How serious?” “It’s pretty serious son.”

At that moment I wished I could have jumped through that phone and just held onto my Dad, but he was 12 hours away by road and I would have to wait till morning to catch a plane. When I hung up the phone, my mind was spinning – shock, fear and numbness all hit me at once. Right then I remembered Jesus and I just sunk to my knees and I cried out “Oh Jesus – please don’t let her die.” I opened my Bible and I just prayed and prayed until a sense of calm came over me and I felt almost peaceful. My mind then wandered to the mundane things of life until it would hit me again, fear, helplessness and shock. Repeatedly I went to my knees and just prayed and held onto Jesus.

Mum had been travelling on her way to teach a music lesson. She was on a double lane highway with a ten meter garden strip between the two roads. She was just passing another car as she went over a crest and that is all she remembers. A car coming the other way had lost control and crossed the ten meter gap between the two roads and hit my Mum head on. The force of the impact pushed the engine of Mum’s car through the firewall, at the same time thrusting the steering wheel straight into her face. For some unknown reason, at that moment the seat broke, and I am so thankful it did otherwise she would have died instantly. When they got her to hospital, she had broken arms, legs and the whole left side of her face had disintegrated.

As my mother was carried into the hospital, there was a doctor who had just about finished his shift. When he saw my mother, he instantly went to work. He fought for eight hours to save her life, and finally after many tense moments she became stable. I really can’t find the words to thank that doctor; even now it brings me to tears. That man worked for 16 hours straight and then had the thoughtfulness to ring my father at 3am to let him know that Mum was critical but stable. I am still immensely grateful to him, a shining example of the skill, strength and kindness of the medical profession.

A few days later my wife and I were in the intensive care ward with Mum. I was just so happy to see her alive. The doctors were amazed at the rate of her recovery. We were told that she would never play the piano again and may not even walk again. It was a hard blow, but she was still with us, and I was thankful. Lorelle was looking at the medical diary entries for Mum and beckoned me to come over. It showed a clear point where they thought they were going to lose Mum, and then all of a sudden all her vital signs rallied and she stabilised. There was no account of how this happened, and I knew that my Father, the source of life had sent His Son to sustain her. I am so thankful for the life-giving power of Jesus. Today, Mum is walking and sometimes when she plays the piano, I feel a deep sense of thanks to Jesus for saving my mother from certain death.

When it comes to understanding the source of life, the Bible leaves us with no doubts. We read the following about Jesus in Colossians:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16,17 NIV

Everything that we can see or perceive, and even things we can’t see were created and are now sustained by Jesus Christ.[1] Notice carefully the wording of the final sentence. And in Him all things hold together. The text clearly tells us that the life force that comes forth from the Son of God holds the whole universe together. Paul puts it another way in the book of Acts:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth … From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he deter- mined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and per- haps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ Acts 17:24-28 NIV

We see here a God who is intimately involved with our lives. Paul begins with the big picture and then zeros down to the personal and intimate level:

1.   He has determined the times and places of every nation.

2.   He is not far from each one of us.

3.  …and finally Paul goes straight to the heart of the issue and says that in Him we live and move and have our being.

If we live in Him then simple logic tells us we can’t live without Him. As God’s divine representative, Jesus, the Son of God, said “…apart from me you can do nothing.”[2] Please understand that this means we can’t do anything physically, mentally or spiritually without Him. We are totally and utterly dependent on God and His Son for everything, just like a little baby depends on its parents.

Let me illustrate this point because its implications are far reaching. Consider the amazing organ of the heart. It works as a pump to circulate blood around our bodies, without a break, for decades. What is amazing about the heart is that the pulsing of the heart does not appear to be aided by anything outside of itself. The muscle of the heart can contract and relax without any direct stimulus from the nervous system. It has what is called an intrinsic regulating system. As an anatomy textbook puts it “The conduction system is composed of specialized muscle tissue that generates and distributes the electrical impulses which stimulate the cardiac muscle fibres to contract.”[3]  These muscle fibres certainly are specialized because they generate electrical impulses that do not come from the nervous system. It is totally amazing that nowhere in the anatomy textbook does it address the question of how do these heart muscle fibres produce this electrical charge to contract the heart. It is called specialized and intrinsic, but how does it do it, and where does this energy come from?

Here is where the road divides. The Bible tells us that this energy comes directly from God, “In Him we live.” Acts 17:28. But Satan tells us that it is inherent within us; it is simply part of the biological process that we possess as our own, “you will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4. This is such a fundamental issue. It is either one or the other. There are many Christians who try to take a middle road on this issue and say “Yes, God made everything, but it is like a wind up clock. He started it and let it run.” As if somehow God made the Duracell batteries and placed them inside of us. The Bible does not teach this idea. We are intimately connected to him and totally dependent on Him every millisecond of every second of every minute of every hour of every day. God is actively, knowingly, lovingly supplying us the electrical charge that keeps our hearts beating. There is something about this reality that can make us as human beings really uncomfortable, but we will address that later. The fact is that we need to get this issue clear right now. Either we believe “In Him we live and move and have our being” or we believe “we shall not surely die.” There is no middle ground.

As challenging as this may be for many of us, we have only dealt with the physical part of human existence. We must now consider the mental and spiritual aspects. Consider the following texts:

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge... Colossians 2:2,3

Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” Exodus 31:1-5

The Bible reveals God as the source of all wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2,3 challenges the concept that we as human beings can originate wisdom and knowledge. All wisdom and all knowledge come from God. An example of this is shown in Exodus 31:1-5. Here we see God giving a man wisdom and skill in craftsmanship. It is interesting that we often refer to people who show great ability and talent as “gifted.” Indeed they are, gifted by God.

Let’s transport ourselves into the middle of a concert. The audience is held spellbound as a talented young lady runs her fingers up and down the grand piano that stands impressively on the stage. She makes the piano literally sing – the touch of the master’s hand. She then builds to the climax, and we sense the end has come. We will her to continue – but the song ends and the crowd erupts into applause, awed by such elegance and grace combined with passion and intensity. The young lady bows and inhales the aroma of praise and then walks from the stage.

Let’s just back up a bit, because there is something interesting about this common scenario. Every time something like this happens the audience should break out into singing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” or something of a similar nature. The applause should be directed to God who gave the skill and wisdom and ability. The pianist’s heart should overflow with love and gratitude to God for the gift He has given her to use, but this is rarely the case. If we truly did act this way, we would not be elated by success or discouraged by failure because the ability to perform does not originate with us and if it does not originate with us, then we can’t take credit when we succeed or experience “debit” when we fail.

Here lies the curse of the Duracell tree. Imagine this tree perched on the edge of a cliff. The sense of freedom we experience when we succeed, believing that we have originated that success compares to the exhilaration of the free fall bungy[4]  jump off the cliff with the bungy rope tied to the base of the tree. But when failure comes, the bungy rope converts into a sling shot and rams us back into the launch point at breath taking velocity. The further we dive into the lie of the power within, the higher the velocity of impact when failure arrives. There is no escaping the curse of the Duracell tree. Once you have tasted its fruit that rope is firmly attached to your leg, and the rest is inevitable. It is no accident that “depression is the leading cause of disability globally.”[5]

The Duracell tree stands at the edge of a great cliff face. A rope is securely bound to each of our legs and the further we launch into its lie over the cliff face, the harder we are propelled back into the base of that tree when failure arrives. How many hits have you received already? How many more can you take? It’s worth thinking about.

Let’s go to the next level. We have looked at the implications of physical and mental dependence but what about spiritual and moral dependence. This is a challenging issue, so put your seatbelt on; it could be a rough ride.

The Bible tells us that “God is love.” 1 John 4:8. This tells us that God is the source of love. It also refers to God as the God of hope. Romans 15:13. This idea is greatly expanded in Galatians:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22,23

The implications of this text are breathtaking. Let’s analyse it for a minute. All of these attributes come from having the Spirit of God. This simply means that without the Spirit of God you cannot have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and so on. I was thinking about this Biblical truth one day while I was walking in a park by a lake. It was calm and peaceful. I suddenly noticed a mother pushing her daughter on a swing. They were both laughing together and obviously enjoying each other’s company. The love that this mother was experiencing for her daughter was inspired by God. The thought to be loving and kind and gentle to her daughter did not originate within the heart of the mother but in the heart of God and was given to that mother who chose to express it, and it became a mother’s love. In this sense it is not really mother’s love at all but God’s love expressed through the mother. That love became a part of the mother because she responded to the Spirit of God and expressed it. In the truest sense, there is no such thing as the love of a mother for her children or love between husband and wife. Radical? Biblical!

I have presented this idea many times when preaching or speaking at seminars and it is interesting to see the audience respond. Some people’s faces look as if I have just attacked the very foundation of the human race.  For all the millions of love songs that have ever been sung and the billions of promises at the marriage altar that “I love you and will love you forever,” not one of those promises can ever be kept without God pouring His love into our receptive souls. Let’s place the attribute of love on the end of the bungy rope. Why do so many “fall out” of love? People who believe that love is originated in our own souls can often wake up in the morning and not “feel” in love with their partners. They begin to doubt whether this relationship is right for them anymore and often begin to look for someone else to bring that feeling back. The Duracell credit card has reached its limit and now it’s time to pay up.

What about the sincere man who really meant his vows to love his wife forever and then suddenly he finds himself attracted to another woman. He may not want to feel this way but he “can’t help it.” Love is confused with lust, and there is doubt as to his integrity. He then begins to withdraw from his partner because the sense of guilt from acting this way prevents him from believing he could still be lovable. He thought he could maintain the flow of love from his heart, but now the bungy rope propels him into the base of the Duracell tree from where he launched, and his marriage is over. Is it any wonder that finding joy in marriage is so elusive for most people?

For the sake of those who are feeling like their marriage is not worth it anymore, remember that love originates only in the heart of God and is freely available to those who ask Him for it. If you feel you have lost that love for your partner, ask God to give it back to you. He will, He promised.

[1] “For all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.” 1 Chronicles 29:14

[2] John 15:5

[3] Gerard Tortora and Nicholas Anagnostakos, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, (Harper and

Row Publishers, New York, 1984) p 463.

[4] A bungy is a long elastic rope that thrill seekers use to jump off bridges and other high places. The bungy rope stretches to within a few metres of the ground and then propels the person upwards as the rope contracts.

[5] Phillip Day, The Mind Game (Credence Publications 2002), In Introduction