His kayak paddle provided more steering than propulsion, as the tourist enjoyed a quiet excursion past tall conifers and wide-armed hardwoods. Slowly he meandered southward, confident that returning to his launching point would not be a challenge. The man at the kayak-rental shack had assured him: surface water flowed at just over one mile per hour. And should he fall out of his craft, no real danger would threaten. The water was only three feet deep, and the shore not more than ten feet to either side.
It’s hard to imagine, the kayaker thought, that this narrow, shallow stream actually becomes a mammoth river. He’d been told the stream was fed by underground springs, and flowed another 2,300 miles from where he paddled. Along the way, more rivers would flow into it. And when the fresh water finally met salt, the river would be over a mile wide.
Have you guessed the name of this waterway? It’s the grand and powerful Mississippi. Yet its headwaters is a tame little stream, fed by a few underground springs or fountains.
Such a river offers an illuminating picture of our relationship with God. We are the rivers, and…
…“[God] is the fountain of life,” (Psalm 36:9).
Anglican bishop John James Stewart Perowne (1823-1904) said: “These are some of the most wonderful words in the Old Testament. Their fullness of meaning no commentary can ever exhaust.”
But if we don’t at least try to grasp the wealth of truth in these six words, we stand to lose much profit.
So let’s consider that, as our fountain of life:
- God the Son is the source of all life, and all life is sustained by him (Hebrews 1:3). Without him, all life would cease.
- In him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
- He is like a spring of water welling up to eternal life in our spirits (John 4:14).
Those are wonderful concepts, which Dr. Perowne surely had in mind as he contemplated Psalm 36:9. Yet our triune God is like a fountain of spring water in more ways.
First, a bit of digression. No doubt you’re aware that bottled spring water is a big business these days, supposedly offering water that is much superior to what comes out of the tap. Critics have their doubts.
But our God is 100% perfect! No doubt about it.
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).
Consider as well the following scriptures, which itemize his excellent perfections. And keep in mind they come to us in unending supply:
- Presence. “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).
- Reliability. “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever; the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
- Right-Doing. “His righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 111:3).
- Faithfulness. “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2).
- Sovereignty. “He rules forever by his power, is eyes watch the nations” (Psalm 6:7).
- Love. “His love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5).
- Compassion. “[The Lord’s] compassions never fail” (Lam. 3:22).
- Protection. “Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:9).
- Stability. “The Lord is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4).
- Joy. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).
- Blessing. “Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence” (Psalm 21:6).
- Grace. “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
That’s an even dozen attributes. But since our God is infinite, his attributes are also infinite. We’ve barely begun to explore his perfections. In addition, he will forever expend those attributes for our good (Romans 8:28)—not only outwardly, as he engineers circumstances, but inwardly as we allow his attributes to flow in us.
In addition, God is flowing through us, so we can provide life-giving grace to those around us—grace that expresses itself in love, compassion, and blessing.
And that brings me to another metaphor–for those tributaries that pour into the Mississippi. They remind us of the influence of others in our lives–faithful and mature family members, friends, pastors, and teachers, who come alongside us by example and with wisdom, providing strength and growth.
Chances are, those tributaries of the Mississippi are also fed by springs. For every believer, our triune God is the pure, ever-flowing, life-giving source of all that is excellent, and everything we need for a fulfilling life.
Is your heart overflowing with praise?
* * * * * * * * * *
We do give you praise, oh God! You are the fountain of our abundant and excellent spiritual life. You are the only spring that quenches our thirst for fulfillment, joy, peace, and satisfaction. Thank you for flowing in us, so these desires and more are fully met. And thank you for flowing through us, so we might have the privilege of sharing your living water with others.
(Information about the headwaters of the Mississippi from the Mississippi Headwater Board and wikipedia.org. Photo & art credits: www.nature.org; http://www.1mississippi.org; http://www.fbcphil.org; http://www.agodman.com; http://www.wikipedia.org.)