For many years I have made it a practice of having a time of devotion early in the morning. I like to spend this time outside, preferably at sunrise. I have done this in the winter in Rochester, Minnesota where I bundled up in my winter coat, gloves and hood, scraped the ice off the chair and took my place to watch the rising Sun glint off the glass buildings of Mayo Clinic. There have been gaps when I missed. The demands of the day were pressing and I was unwilling to get up early enough for this discipline. But I have discovered that when I spend time for personal study of Scripture, prayer and reflection on what God wants to say to me, the day seems to go better. My life has a healthier center and, when the day is done, it seems to be more productive.
Lately I have been going out on my patio behind our house in Rockwall, Texas. The landscape seems braced for the scorching heat that will surge past 100 when the sun rises to its full height. After my devotion, I water the potted flowers on our patio: bachelor buttons, petunias, chrysanthemums and periwinkles. I keep a watering pot handy, and often leave it filled the day before so I will remember to do this. If I miss a few days, the plants show it. They become stressed, and, if neglected too long, they wither and die. Recently I missed a few days of having my devotion on the patio and, as a result, the flowers missed their watering. Their leaves shriveled and the flowers began to fall from the drooping stems. They have become a spiritual barometer. Perhaps they reflect the condition of my spirit and soul from these quiet times alone with God.
The flowers don’t respond well to alternate periods of draught and deluge. Drowning them in water once a week, simply doesn’t work. They need watering every day, not necessarily a lot, just enough to soak in the soil. Watered frequently in this fashion they thrive, even in record setting triple digit weather.
This may explain why American Christianity seems so insipid, (like salt that has lost its taste). Many Christians depend on a deluge of spiritual watering for one hour once a week during a worship service at church. And many more don’t even do this. The spiritual lives of many Christians may resemble the stressed out flowers sitting on my patio table in the heat of summer.
David expressed this truth in Psalm 1. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”
Jesus said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (John 4:14) And again, he said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” (Rev 21:6).