A River Runs Through It
"Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."
~John 7:38 NIV
You usually see what looks like an ascending plume of smoke first. Then, when you look a little closer, you can see the enormous water towers that are the classic symbol of a nuclear power plant. We have a few in our area, and if you are in the right place, you can see them. As a kid, I saw those huge towers, and I assumed that those towers were the ones that produced the power.
They just protect the power. Nuclear reactors are so powerful and so radioactive, they require huge tanks of water to maintain their temperature and to protect the power from destroying the entire region around it.
Your heart is a nuclear power plant.
I know that Jesus didn't say, "whoever believes in me like an atom-splitting in two, creating a huge explosion that is really messy..." What he did was use the nuclear power of his day to illustrate the tremendous power that our hearts contain.
He described your heart and my heart like a river.
Rivers in Jesus' day were like a combination of electricity, gasoline, and the internet. If you lose those in our day, life as we know it will stop, chaos will ensue and eventually people will be in danger. In Jesus' day, if the river dried up – forget life as they knew it – they’d go straight to all life is in danger.
A river has the power to transform everything around it. Your heart also has the power to transform your entire existence. It can spread joy to your life and everyone around it, or it can endanger, enrage, dismiss, and diminish those around it.
There are three essential things we need to know about the heart:
1. God gives us a new heart by His Spirit. Faith in Jesus means being united to Him by His Spirit. When this happens, he begins a new work in us by that Spirit. The people in the Bible call it a new heart.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" (Ezekiel 36:26)
This new heart gives us a new set of desires for God and the things of God. It becomes a spigot for the streams of living water to now flow in and through you. This happens once and for all when you invite Jesus into your life, and you trust Him to cover your sins and to lead you in life.
2. The heart must be protected.
"Guard your heart above all things, for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)
Just like the enormous towers are there to protect the reactor core at a nuclear power plant, similarly, we have to protect our hearts, the reactor core of our lives.
We pay attention to what we love. And our lives reflect where we spend our attention. As one writer suggests:
"In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to."
The heart is not like Vegas. What happens in our hearts shows up in our lives.
"As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart." (Proverbs 27:19)
Or, "what's in the well comes up in the bucket."
3. Our hearts can be transformed.
Not only do we receive a new heart that functions like a brand-new high-speed router to heaven (thought you might like that metaphor better than "spigot"), God will maintain that new heart if we ask him to. Believers before and after Jesus knew this and taught us how to protect the reactor of our hearts:
"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalms 51:10)
God gives us a new heart, and if we seek Him, He can make it pure. Look for that in our next blog post.
In the meantime, Deeper: A 45 Day challenge provides all of the practical elements for you to protect, cleanse, and create space for God's living waters to enter your heart.