Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Daily Office Reflection: Heartfelt

Psalms 78:1-39 * 78:40-72; Jeremiah 7:21-34; Romans 4:13-25; John 7:37-52

"'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'"

I have been thinking a lot recently about negativity and how infectious it can be. I have witnessed how easy it is for a very small number of people to infect a group 80% larger by being negative in tone and outlook. When people feel a sense of hopelessness, when they are stuck in a place of the past and not looking forward, negativity just oozes out of every pore of their being.

I was at a weekend meeting recently where I witnessed one individual who was new to the group, who obviously had an ax to grind, infect the rest of the group. The negativity that seeped from this individual changed the whole tone and tenor of the meetings, making them much more intense and edgy than they needed to be. I think people who are being infected by these kinds of individuals fall into a defensive posture when faced with this kind of onslaught. It is not an easy thing to keep hopeful when someone or some small group is living in the land opposite to hope and faith.

Jesus calls people to him today, providing hope and optimism about a bright future, a glorious new kingdom that is possible. He cites back to scripture about how out of a believer's heart rivers of living water will flow. Not just a river, or a stream, or a muddy puddle, but rivers, plural. There is an optimism and a beautiful hope for all of us to hold on to expressed in this imagery. We can contribute to those rivers of living water through our believing and hopeful hearts. We can't be "Douglas Downer" if we have believing and hopeful hearts. But because we are human, we can be infected by negativity and people hoping for a return to a past that never really existed: perhaps really only existing in their nostalgic memories. 

Having a heart filled with faith, believing our faith in a heartfelt way, brings us to a hopeful future and allows us to resist those who would try and stop the kingdom from developing around us. A tall, but not impossible, order to fulfill. Jesus is with us as we resist those who would try to infect us, stop us, put stumbling blocks in our way. Our rivers of living water can wash them out of the way, or perhaps (even better) sweep them up into the current and bring them along, and in the process, wipe their hearts clean of negativity, allowing their faithful hearts to contribute to the rivers creating the kingdom.

Copyright 2009, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

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