Have you ever heard a story that just pierces your heart or truly causes you to reflect deeply within your soul? At our last leadership convention, Laurie Woodward, read the story of the Keeper of the Springs. It is beautiful and allows you to visualize the serenity as you listen to the words. The context in which it was used for us was to encourage us to check our hearts. Many scriptures refer to the heart and how it directly relates to situations in our life. Our hearts can be polluted as the story of the springs. Contamination and distance can reduce your ability to be your personal best to anyone, and especially to God.
For many, many years I purposely built walls around my heart. Everyone was kept at a distance and when something happened, a new layer of protection was applied. I consciously recited aloud what substance the new layer consisted of as it went around my heart. I think the last one was titanium. Not just any titanium! Years before I had heard about a fortress in Mexico that was an impenetrable military fortress built near the water. I placed titanium and visually built a fortress out of it around my heart exactly like that fortress. I know….sad right?
Why? Had I led such a terrible life where abuse was rampant? Not in the least. Was I so cold that people had to “prove” themselves before they were allowed into my inner circle? Never! While I am discerning, I love people and will give anyone a chance, unless directly warned from God not to. Sure there had been relational failures due to divorce, but why the drastic measure? Was rejection and commitment so feared that I projected rejection to avoid it? Who knows?
I remember in or around 1999-2000 there had been tremendous disappointment with several church experiences. I loved God and continued to serve him regardless of them. One night, during a mid-week service, I was ready to peel every layer off and leave them at the altar. But…I hesitated. There was security in my layers! By the end of the week, on Friday, a massive mis-understanding surfaced and I verbally announced that while I was willing to surrender my layers the previous Wednesday, I would now never do it. As if that was a threat anyone would even remotely pay attention to. I was a valued leader, prayer warrior, and confidante in the inner circle of church leadership. I am now embarrassed to confess that, but at the time I didn’t know any better. I could be all those things and hide behind the confine of a concealed, guarded heart.
Moving to Texas in 2004 has been miraculous in so many areas, I will probably write about them until I draw my last breath. I remember finally deciding on attending The Oaks Fellowship, in Red Oak, TX. This decision was completely left up to my son, Bryce, as he was my #1 concern. His disappointments in churches had left a deeper scar than mine and I wanted it healed. I remember after our first initial visit, I felt at home there. Each time I passed it on the highway, my heart would feel so drawn there. During a particular mid-week service, my pastor, Scott Wilson , was preaching. Normally I can tell you what message moved me the most. All I remember that night was that he talked about walls around our hearts and how we need to get rid of them. He encouraged us during the service to turn to the person next to us and do this as an act of surrender and obedience. I immediately turned to the person standing beside me, putting my hand up in front of them as if to really get their attention, and told them I had to go first. I didn’t even know the person. There was no trust, no relationship or any other emotional tie that would make me feel secure enough to do this act Scott requested. Yet, that night, I released every layer. Remember….I named them as they were applied, but I didn’t care that night what they were because they all came off! I realized I would be hurt, disappointed and used again and again. It didn’t matter. I was healed and would now trust with an open heart.
I challenge you to read the story below and search your heart. What are you harboring? Unforgiveness, resentment, anger, jealously, covetousness? Is disappointment, frustration, complacency flowing instead of quite the opposite? I encourage you to do what I did. Trust God for healing, release all these things and watch his mercy & grace flow unrestricted.
We can’t serve, embrace or love a hurt and dying world if there are so many layers around our very own hearts that they can’t get close enough to us to feel safe. Dreams are being shattered by the second. Hope is being lost even more frequent. You could be the glimmer of hope someone has. How can they sense that when your own heart can’t peek out from behind the darkness of the walls? For years I prayed Psalm 51:10–Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord my God. And renew a right, persevering and steadfast spirit within me. I did all this while clinging to each and every layer steadily applying new ones. They have to go. A contrite spirit is one that has been crushed as if into a fine powder. My walls had to come down, crushed, evaporated, nuclear blasted or whatever term you want to use to destroy them!
I give love, I feel love, I receive love and I will continue regardless of the past, present or future. I am at peace and joy resides in my heart. It may be scarred, broken, or ugly, but it functions beautifully as I allow the love of God to flow through me to others.
Out of the abundant springs of the heart flows the issues of our lives and words of our mouth. What is your heart speaking to the masses?
May your heart flow in peace, serenity, & blessings today.
KEEPER OF THE SPRING
As Told by Charles R. Swindoll
The late Peter Marshall, an eloquent speaker and for several years the chaplain of the United States Senate, used to love to tell the story of “The keeper of the spring,” a quiet forest dweller who lived high above an Austrian village along the eastern slopes of the Alps.
The old gentleman had been hired many years ago by a young town council to clear away the debris from the pools of water up in the mountain crevices that fed the lovely spring flowing through their town. With faithful, silent regularity, he patrolled the hills, removed the leaves and branches, and wiped away the silt that would otherwise choke and contaminate the fresh flow of water.
By and by, the village became a popular attraction for vacationers. Graceful swans floated along the crystal clear spring, the mill wheels of various businesses located near the water turned day and night, farmlands were naturally irrigated, in the view from restaurants was picturesque beyond description.
Years passed. One evening the town council met for its semi-annual meeting. As they reviewed the budget, one man’s eye caught the salary figure being paid to the obscure keeper of the spring. Said the keeper of the purse, “Who is the old man? Why do we keep him on year after year? No one ever sees him. For all we know the strange ranger of the hills is doing us no good. He isn’t necessary any longer!” By a unanimous vote, they dispensed with the old man’s services.
For several weeks nothing changed. By early autumn the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, hindering the rushing flow of sparkling water. One afternoon someone noticed a slight yellowish-brown tint in the spring. A couple of days later that water was much darker. Within another week, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was soon detected. The mill wheels moved more slowly, some finally ground to a halt. Swans left as did the tourists. Clammy fingers of disease and sickness reached deeply into the village.
Quickly, the embarrassed council called a special meeting. Realizing their gross error in judgment, they hired back the old keeper of the spring…and within a few weeks the veritable river of life began to clear up. The wheels started to turn, and new life returned to the hamlet in the Alps once again.