Last week our small north Texas town dried up. One day we were happy-go-lucky car washers and dish washers and hot shower takers, and the next we were buying out the family-owned grocery store of bottled water. We bathed with pitchers we tried heating in the microwave, and we flushed our toilets with rain water we caught in buckets during a passing storm.
Our water infrastructure is old and in need of repair. These are issues that our city leaders are constantly working to resolve, and when the time is right we will cooperate as neighbors and friends to make major improvements. But for now, we occasionally deal with the sudden inconvenience of no water for a day or two.
I use the term inconvenience because that’s what it is. Yet, in the inconveniences of life don’t we always learn a little bit about ourselves, and especially about our spiritual condition? The headache of temporarily being without what we normally take for granted should drive us to thankfulness, of course. It should help us to pause for a moment and remember how ridiculously blessed that we are to have clean running water fall right out of our taps at any time of the day or night. It should inspire us to dwell on the reality that millions of people around the world live their entire lives without access to clean and safe water. Instead we’re prone to grumble and complain when our undeserved comforts are interrupted.
I recently watched a video where a precious mother pointed out how difficult it is to be a mom. She talked about loneliness, about boredom. And as she laid out all of the reasons that motherhood is a struggle, she showed us video clips of her beautifully dressed kids eating ice cream, playing in children’s museums and parks, driving to safe and fun destinations in their large, leather lined car with the double sunroof. I was struck as I watched her video that I identified with many of the things she was saying. But the life that she showed us in pictures clearly demonstrated that she is living a life beyond the wildest dreams of most of the rest of the planet. Her children are well fed, educated, and even entertained. And so are mine. So often we operate from a complete lack of awareness as to how great we have it.
It stands to reason that we who live with the comforts of a first-world society should be the spiritual giants of our time. Think of all of the ways God has blessed us with safety and freedom and opportunity. Imagine how much of our lives could be spent falling on our knees in gratefulness, devouring the Word with expectation for what He will do next. Consider how much time we have to study, to worship, to pray, to reflect on the goodness of God when we don’t have to struggle to survive.
But that doesn’t seem to be how the Kingdom of God works. Over and over again in scripture and in our own experience, we see that ease tends to ruin people spiritually. We grow entitled. We grow complacent. We grow lazy and develop a complaining spirit. We see negative sides to the blessings God has given, and we invent new ways to feel depressed and discouraged in the midst of an incredibly good life.
I’ll never forget when Chad first traveled to a third world country. He came home humbled and has never been the same. He told stories of going into homes that were little more than lean-tos, where people swept their dirt floors in anticipation of their American visitors. They lived in what we would consider to be shacks at the edge of a landfill and they had nothing, yet they were the most joyful, most hope-filled, most Christ-adoring believers he had ever met. How can it be that they who could only dream of things like hardwood floors or clear, running water or political peace could be so filled with the joy of the Lord? How is it possible that those who had so much to complain about could be so content? Is it possible that they had been taught by the Holy Spirit through hardship and difficulty in a way that they could not have been if they traded lives with us?
Have we been ruined by our ease?
Maybe. But there is hope for us. The same Holy Spirit who teaches the shack dwellers and the water seekers is more than able to teach us the art of living joyful, peaceful, grateful, meaningful lives. The Spirit of the Living God can keep us from getting buried alive by our comfort and ease. True abundant life transcends what we have or don’t have because it is centered on the person of Jesus Christ. We don’t need a better perspective or a more positive pattern of thinking. We need Him. And when we call out to Him from our ease or from our difficulty, He will change everything about how we think, feel, and act.
I suppose the main lesson that I learned in waiting for water is that I need Jesus desperately. He can take what is ruined and turn it into something completely new. A new me. A new you. And someday, when we get new pipes in this wonderful town that I call home, I pray that I remember what I learned while we waited. Thank you, Lord, for the ease. Now don’t let it ruin me.
Wow, I am humbled. Thanks for reminding me that a man’s life doesn’t consist of abundance
of things they have.
We often need to be reminded or to remind ourselves that God is gracious unto us and gratitude is the way to living a beautiful ife.