“Encouraging Words for Today” – July 22, 2011
BESIDE STILL WATERS
By Lucinda Secrest McDowell
“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” —Psalm 23.2,3 NIV
A salty breeze blew through my hair as I descended the rustic staircase from the overlook down to the pink sand beach below. It was early morning and I seemed to be the only person awake to this fresh new day. Making my way to a favorite chair, I unloaded my prayer book and journal and settled down with a sigh.
Immediately the psalmist’s words came to me, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46.10 Another deep breath, this time with closed eyes. I wanted to literally soak it all in and not miss a single sensation that God had for me. Even though I was in Bermuda to lead a “Spa for the Soul” retreat at one of my favorite places in the world — The Willowbank — I sensed that God also had some rejuvenation plans for my own soul during my stay.
When I think of water, I think of spa. Did you know this word is actually an acronym for three Latin words — Salus Per Aquam, which mean “health by water.” While water is the genesis of this term, health is an integral ingredient. Any true spa will focus on improving your health — physically, emotionally, mentally and yes, spiritually. Modern spas have their roots in the ancient towns once known for the healing powers of their mineral waters and hot springs. People would come from far away to “take the waters” and restore their health. In the Bible, the Pool of Bethesda was such a spa and believed to be a source of healing when the waters were stirred. That’s why the lame man had waited by that pool for 38 years, hoping to ‘take the waters.’
As much as I love receiving a good massage, I realize such treatments only satisfy for awhile – my muscles eventually tense up again and my heels get rough and calloused. What I really need is a spa for my soul — refreshing water to quench my deepest thirst. The world’s cares and concerns have plopped me in the middle of a desert and I’m dry and dusty just like the psalmist who lamented, “God, You are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” Psalm 63.1
Have you ever felt that way? Do you have a dehydrated heart? When our bodies lack water they give off symptoms of dehydration uch as dry mouth, headaches or weak knees. But what are the indicators that our souls are deprived of spiritual water? Max Lucado says “Dehydrated hearts
send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Growling mastodons of guilt and fear. You think God wants you to live with these? Hopelessness. Sleeplessness. Loneliness. Resentment. Irritability. Insecurity. These are warnings. Symptoms of a dryness deep within.”
What is needed is ‘health by water’ — a spa for our souls! And it must come from the Source of living water — Jesus Christ! “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” John 7.37-38 He spoke in such a way to the woman at the well in Samaria. Now here was someone who had camped out in a desert place for many years, hoping each new encounter would finally assuage the dryness of her heart — only to come away more parched than before. That morning she had come early to the well hoping to get her liquid allotment without encountering any of the townspeople.
But Jesus offered her a spa for her soul and body…”Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.” John 4.13-14
Sitting on my favorite Bermuda beach that long ago morning I prayed,
“Lord, I thirst. I’m dry and discouraged. Pour over me your living water. May I drink deeply of You so that out of me will truly flow a wellspring of life for others! Amen.”
Then I sang (quietly so as not to disturb others) words from Charles Wesley’s 1740 hymn “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.”
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me drink of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.”
When you read this blog post, I may be revisiting that same place BESIDE STILL WATERS as Mike and I minister in Bermuda as pastor-in-residence at The Willowbank. (that’s the ‘plan’ anyway…) I am so looking forward to drenching myself not only in the clear aqua waters, but in the refreshing Water of Life that spills over me when I deliberately take time to be still and listen for the voice of God. (sometimes I hear Him whilst snorkeling underwater too…) I pray that you, too, may draw near and be refreshed and restored…
“Come everyone who is thirsty. Come to the waters…
Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call to Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55.1,6
under the mercy, Cindy
©2011 Lucinda Secrest McDowell –