Well it’s time to clean our fish pond again. As I looked at the murky water, the Lord reminded me of my experience last summer and it was impressed upon me to share that story once again. If you have already read this story, just let it be a reminder that this is what the Lord is doing in all of our lives as we continue to move through this season of "transition."
Recently, I had the hair brained idea I was going to add a mini waterfall to our mini outdoor fish pond. I somehow accomplished the feat without removing or killing the fish. They definitely knew something was up, because amidst all my commotion they were hiding as far from me as possible. After it was done, I had a beautiful mini waterfall with gorgeous, cascading, sludgy-muddy water. Have you ever tried to clean the sludge out of a fish pond without removing the fish? I did and I learned something in the process: God is in the same dilemma, and He has been using the same process to clean our ponds…Only He’s a lot smarter than I was…
At first, so as to not disturb the fish, we submerged a little pump that quietly and slowly pumped the water out of their safe haven. Slowly the water level went down, and so did the fish. (I do not know if they noticed their pleasant surroundings were shrinking, they never told me.) As I peered into the murky water, I was surprised that the color pumping out was a clear green - I thought it would be dirtier than that. Slowly as the water disappeared, I could see the bottom of the pond. It was gross. How was I going to get that junk out without removing the fish? It was then that a glorious revelation occurred.
Being a professional dishwasher (what Mom isn’t?) I started thinking about cleaning a bottle that is full of soap suds. The only way to clean the soap out is to pour clean water in. All the soap comes to the surface, pours out the top and if you wait long enough, the soapy water is replaced by the clean water. When the soap is gone, the bottle is clean! Marvelous! What would I do without these sudden blasts of Holy Spirit genius?
Unlike myself, my husband had thought ahead and filled 3 large buckets with water, so as to evaporate the chlorine to once again help the fish make the easiest possible transition into a clean environment. I looked at those buckets (which hadn’t any time for evaporation) and grabbed the first one and heaved it in the pond with the pump still running. While my husband was running for cover, I realized I’d struck pay dirt. You should have seen the dark, forest green sludge that came out of the pump hose!!! That was truly inspiring, so I heaved the other 2 buckets in, then turned on the garden hose and let it pour in. That little ol’ pump was working over time, and the poor fish… well we won’t talk about the fish. At least they survived.
Later I started thinking about heaving that water in and how the Lord sometimes dumps a large portion of His Holy Spirit upon us. It stirs all kinds of things to the surface, and all the while He is pumping and pouring, pumping and pouring. I heard the Lord say to me, "It’s going to be a wild ride." Just think if you were that fish and suddenly this huge gust of water blasts your cozy little haven and not only are you swirling and twirling around wondering what hit you, but scum also comes from everywhere at once, and you are wondering if you’ll ever be able to see clearly again.
Likewise, God decided He wasn’t going to take us fish out of the pond-world, rather, He was going to take the pond-world out of us. He slowly, with careful intent pumped our Holy Spirit filled swimming havens and they shrunk in size. Just about the time when some of us fish were flopping and we didn’t think there was any water left in the world, in comes the Holy Spirit’s refreshing Presence.
But it doesn’t end there. It has only begun. Our pond mentality is limited to our own lives, and at the most, to the life of our church. But God’s pond is the world. Think about that a moment. It’s not just our muck He’s separating, it’s the world’s. And there’s a whole lot of sludge out there. Things are going to get really stirred up before we start seeing clearly again. Therein comes the word, "transition."
Transition is an unsettling time when we desperately crave roots… a settled place of any kind… something peaceful and safe and reliable and fixed and not moving...when we crave something steady and trust-able and established where we have our feet on dry land and don’t have motion sickness. Transition is like riding the Hammer at the fair, where the loose change falls out of our pockets with every loop. Anything not tied down falls away. Transition is a moving, unstable time. Transition shakes foundations.
God uses transition to compel people into making decisions. If ever there was a time to make haste and return to intimate roots with the Lord, it is now before the wild ride. Now is the time for each of us to seriously question our values, our foundations, our priorities. The Lord is clearly giving us final warnings that we still have a choice before this occurs as to how deeply this transition will affect our personal lives. If we have nothing in the world, and the world has nothing in us, His grace will sustain us and we will actually ride out whatever comes on top of the Holy Spirit wave.
If we have any roots in the world, they will be suddenly torn away and we will be left deeply shattered wondering what hit us. If we are not living holy lives, pleasing to Him, we will be caught in the muck with the rest of the world, and be suffering painful losses. No one will escape the effects of world wide transition. However, the manner in which the transition affects us will depend totally upon our values and our priorities.
If we can rejoice that God is actually cleaning up a very great mess, and He is actually going somewhere amongst the flurried storm of fish sludge, then we will take the wild Holy Spirit ride and go with His flow. Even in the midst of great sludge flurries, He is still God and is still in control over what touches our personal lives. He will keep us in and through it and we will rise triumphant on the other side…swimming in a nice clean pond, with glorious crystal clear water.
[end of story]
We have some awesome times coming with promises of the Lord’s glory. The world will grow darker but the people of God shall shine. "Arise, my people! Let your light shine for all the nations to see! For the glory of the Lord is streaming from you. Darkness as black as night shall cover all the peoples of the earth, but the glory of the Lord will shine from you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see the glory of the Lord upon you." (Isa 60:1-3 TLB)
May the Lord give us all grace to stay in His Presence, live lives that are pleasing to Him and help us to be the salt of the earth — making a difference in our shaking world!