In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. And God commanded, “Write this down… this word.” And Daniel wrote. And Moses wrote. And Isaiah and Ezekiel and Malachi and Jeremiah. They wrote it down so that when all went silent and 400 years of silence crept by, people still had the Word. And Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and later Paul and John again heard the instruction, “Write it down… this word.” And they wrote it down so that after 2000 years people still have the Word and it is still marvelous and wonderful and awesome, not in the 21st century slang kind of way but in the magnitude and splendor of God kind of way.
So today I have to write it down too. This Word.
You see, some 4 months ago, God called me out of my day and said, “Go for a hike. I have something to show you.” So, I hiked. My dog and I climbed in the scorching sun, in a landscape parched and dead. We passed ponds that raised dust; no trace of mud or moisture left. The sun and dust combined in a glaring golden haze. My mouth felt sticky and dry and the dog kept encouraging me to turn back. It’s too hot and too dry he seemed to be saying. Go home. At least there is shade there.
We circled a pond, the barren remains of a pond.
Circled its lifeless perimeter because I was reading a book by Mark Batterson about outrageous prayer. And I was circling this pond in prayer because to me it represented the valley, the whole lot of us parched and thirsty. The dog circled too. Nothing should have stopped him from crossing the pond bed. No mud, no water, no nothing. But he circled like it was holy ground. And I prayed to God to bring the rain, to fill the pond, to restore His people, to heal the land and its people.
I will, He said. The next time you come up here, this will be full.
Faithless that I am I thought it would take a while for that to happen.
When I circled that pond I was also circling Compassion Tea in prayer. We were all reading Draw the Circle. It wasn’t a particularly difficult, parched time for Compassion Tea; we were just wondering what God had in store for His company. Where were the blessings we had been seeing for months previously? Were we headed into a drought ourselves? Wendy had said, “Let’s circle this in prayer.” So we prayed the prayer of Jabez; “Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that thou wouldst bless me and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from harm so that it might not hurt me!” And God granted what he asked.” (1 Chronicles 4:10) Only our prayer was “Oh bless Compassion Tea and expand our borders, Lord. And be with us, keep us from harm. And God granted our request.”
And God granted our request.
Today, the inability to breath was strong again, as it has been for the past two weeks. And as I fought my way home on familiar roads that nevertheless were raising the hair on the back of my neck, and as I cried out to God again, He called me out of my day and said, “Go hike. I have something to show you.”
The hike up was excruciating, not because of the altitude climb or anything treacherous about the path but because God and I had a little talk about my inability to breath and why it was so bad right now. We had a little chat about hard hearts and how sometimes He allows hard hearts like He did Pharoah’s because His glory becomes even more brilliantly and emphatically displayed. We talked about surrender and about my Jonah heart… not those people God, not those.
Sometimes it is good to walk in the rain. No one can tell if those are tears or raindrops.
I didn’t see much on the climb up because my eye was inward, listening to the pain of my parts pouring out in front of their Maker. And the laying of them down at His feet, those pains, fears, worries, the things that have slowly been suffocating me.
And then, there was this.
Like searing light, like electrical shock, an invisible hand writing on a wall, He said, “I am the Lord God. I am faithful. I am faithful to fulfill my promises. I will heal my people of their iniquities. I will heal my people.”
The tears came hot and blinding in streams filling the ponds of my soul.
Because here it was, proof that He is faithful and He did fill the pond.
Because here it was, proof that He is faithful and He has expanded our borders.
Compassion Tea now stretches from sea to shining sea, West Coast to East Coast, Gulf Coast to the northern border. St. James Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota, yesterday joined our cause and the four points on the compass are represented. And when you draw a line to connect those dots, you get a circle.
A pond is a circle. A pond is a round bowl full of water. Like a cup of tea, a place to ponder; like a baptismal font, a place to be made clean, sanctified, restored.
You should see the dog. His paws are muddy. He couldn’t help himself. He had to go in the water. Instead of begging to go home, this time he raced farther and harder. And the holy ground… he bounded through it. This is life, this water, this pond, this circle.
And this Word. His Word. “I am faithful.”
I write it down lest I forget. I write it down so that when things are silent and I can’t breath I will know.