A Conduit, Not a Factory

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37-38).

I have a great desire to be a fountain of inspiration and a helpful spiritual guide. On my best days, I hope it’s true that “God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may sustain the weary with a word” (Isaiah 50:4).  I long to “get filled up” in order to pour myself out in writing sermons, letters, devotionals, and more.

But sometimes the faucet runs dry and my well is empty. Then I try mustering up something by sheer willpower. I end up manufacturing something that’s not dripping wet from the Spirit’s well. I give people the tinny mutterings of weak flesh.

I realize once again I am a conduit, not factory. God may graciously choose to use me as a pipeline or a garden hose, but only Christ provides the Living Water. He is the faucet, the spigot, the ever flowing spring. I’m that rusty watering can with a slow leak.

“He must become greater, I must become less” (John 3:30). My holy  task is to stay connected to the Source, and keep learning how to abide more and more in the Vine. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).

The following letter of Francois Fenelon was a special word for me in this moment, in this season. Enjoy!

LETTER XVII. Quietness in God our true resource.

Warmth of imagination, ardor of feeling, acuteness of reasoning, and fluency of expression, can do but little. The true agent is a perfect abandonment before God, in which we do everything by the light which He gives, and are content with the success which He bestows. This continual death is a blessed life known to few. A single word, uttered from this rest, will do more, even in outward affairs, than all our most eager and officious care. It is the Spirit of God that then speaks the word, and it loses none of its force and authority, but enlightens, persuades, moves, and edifies. We have accomplished everything, and have scarce said anything.

On the other hand, if left to the excitability of our natural temperament, we talk forever, indulging in a thousand subtle and superfluous reflections; we are constantly afraid of not saying or doing enough; we get angry, excited, exhausted, distracted, and finally make no headway. Your disposition has an especial need of these maxims; they are as necessary for your body as your soul, and your physician, and your spiritual adviser should act together.

Let the water flow beneath the bridge; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant, unjust, false, and presumptuous; let the world be the world still; you cannot prevent it. Let every one follow his own inclination and habits; you cannot recast them, and the best course is, to let them be as they are and bear with them. Do not think it strange when you witness unreasonableness and injustice; rest in peace in the bosom of God; He sees it all more clearly than you do, and yet permits it. Be content to do quietly and gently what it becomes you to do, and let everything else be to you as though it were not.

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