Stephan is one of my oldest and best friends. We share a rich history of coming from ministry families–he being the eldest grandson of Billy Graham. I asked him to share an observation about how integral character is in ministry and some practical advice. – Rob Hoskins
Water appears so innocent, so safe, so docile and insignificant. Yet it permeates almost everything we do—and when ignored is deadly.
Throughout human history, dispute over water rights have led to strife, conflict and even wars. Abraham recognized that arguments over water were dividing his family and suggested that they each seek their own water sources in separate lands (Genesis 13).
I have found myself hosing plants in my yard, only to realize that most of the water is turning into runoff. Ironically, the plant is receiving very little of the overabundance of water that I have pointed in its direction. Most of that precious water is wasted, turning into a stinky cesspool loaded with bugs. My intentions to water my plants are good, however, my efforts have resulted in a thirsty plant, wasted water, stench and potential disease.
An inconsistent supply of water, which may or may not be penetrating deeply into the soil, leaves a plant vulnerable to being destroyed by drought or flood.
David, the poet, king and warrior, acknowledged that a tree planted by water prospers and is blessed (Psalm 1:3).
An Israeli father and son, Simcha Blass and Yeshayahu (meaning YAHWEH is salvation) are credited with developing the science behind drip irrigation.
Drip irrigation: a slow, precise application of water to the root zone of a plant.
The technique of drip irrigation has revolutionized agriculture, providing consistent growth in areas where prosperity appeared impossible. Desert farming is now not only possible, but profitable.
The difference between the hose approach and the slow drip is a principle I have experienced in my faith and lifelong walk with God. I was introduced to the reality of God by my faithful parents and extended family at a young age. The idea of a God who loved me was not foreign, but almost too familiar.
I have been intrigued, even at times to the point of doubt, by men and women I have known who abandon their faith. These people once boldly and loudly proclaimed God’s faithfulness in their lives, and appeared to sacrifice so much in serving their Savior. They were quick to share dismay over others who rejected God and condemn those living ungodly lives.
But somewhere along the way, they themselves fall victim to what appears to be a catastrophic failure of faith. They become the very person they were so proud to proclaim they were not. Why does this happen? Is the drift inevitable, is the failure just a matter of time?
In the relationship between God the Father and his son Jesus Christ, we see no failure. Theirs is an example of an intimate, effective and sustainable relationship that is more akin to a constant drip to the roots, rather than a firehose to the branches.
God and man were separated by sin, and the Father’s incredible solution was a personal one. It was a solution that drove to the root of the problem—the broken heart of man. I am amazed at the level of intentionality that God displayed when He inserted himself, day in and day out through the person of Jesus, into the details of the life of mankind.
Imagine for a moment the countless conversations Jesus had with people in pain as they tried to explain what was wrong and broken in their lives. Jesus knew the pain and He knew the solution, but He still listened. He gave dignity to the one with the burden. He dripped His love, His compassion, His authenticity, His character, and His kindness into the very roots of each individual He encountered.
He does the same thing for me every day.
How then do I stay true? The reality is that it’s His strength not mine. The day-to-day drip of His promises, His mercy, His wisdom, and even His correction is far more impactful than the haphazard and frantic search for a quick gulp of God because I have become dehydrated of His Spirit.
The latter simply does not work and can create a faith that may appear healthy from the outside, but on closer inspection reveals that the roots are dying. Eventually, faith falters and simply fades away.
Surrender early and surrender often. I’m encouraged to seek out the daily drip of God’s love, His Word and His presence. And in doing so, I have found my journey with Him increasingly simple, less frantic, more rhythmic and certainly more peaceful.
Keep in step with His Spirit and your roots will grow, ever so slowly, into strong and vibrant anchors able to withstand both the torrential rains and the deadly droughts.