Many have followed the Facebook progress of transforming our neglected, dead, and dated back yard into a relaxing retreat. OK, I'm retired, so I have less stress to retreat from, but I still need it. Building the waterfall provides a metaphor not just for the entire job, but more so for the spiritual life.
We'd built one at our previous house and had an idea of what we wanted, then a friend donated a larger pump that enlarged our plans, including the footprint of it all. The angle and design of the upper stream changed, then we tinkered with the block retaining wall multiple times. I dug the hole for the pond and got ready to lay the cushion and liner, but decided to add some concrete blocks around the top to give a more firm edge.
Then I designed areally cool manifold to release the water in three places at the back top, but the water just oozed out and it leaked where the flexible hose connected to the hard PVC, so another redesign came in to solve those issues. Of course, placing the rocks on the sides took a lot of changing, for color and size and shape, and we had to arrange the smaller colored rocks near the lip of the fall dozens of times to get a nice solid wall of water. And the duck! It's now in its third spot.
What a revealing metaphor for following Jesus! We study the Bible and pray and evaluate and get good advice, then we make our plans and build habits and thought patterns and ways to serve God. We think we're set for a while. Sometimes they work excellently. But then someone gives us a bigger pump, or other conditions change. Or the plans work OK, but need some revision. Or they don't work at all and we need wholesale revamp.
Our point? Spiritually, let's make plans and build habits, but we hold on to them loosely, so we can make changes when needed. Just as I did with the waterfall, we need to continually adjust our plans, our habits, our thoughts, and how we serve him. How? We pay attention to the nudges of the Spirit. We examine how well our plan works. We listen to the wise comments of mature friends. O, we test everything we do (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Let's not exclude our theology in this examination; I've learned and changed a lot over the years. But be sure it's becoming more biblical, not less. That book is the standard by which we judge all spiritual issues.
And if the status quo needs a change, we change it without grieving too much at what we've given up. Why? We may get much better. Think about the promise that comes with a willingness to change, "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps" (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).
Kick Starting the Application
What areas right now need some examination? How tightly are you holding on to what you've been doing? Why? What process will you use to explore how to tweak or revamp the issue?