Authored by Marie Story
Have you ever done the experiment where you put a stalk of celery in colored water? If you haven’t, what happens is that the celery starts to change color as the water is soaked up through the stem. It takes a couple of days to see the change, but soon enough your celery stalk will take on the color of the water it’s in.
In the same way, celery very quickly absorbs any poisons and pesticides in the air or in the soil through osmosis. Water, the weather, and the environment determine how a celery plant will grow. It draws from its surroundings.
I was thinking of how our spirits work in this way, too. The source of our nourishment or input, and whatever we expose ourselves to, will influence us—for better or for worse.
We’re constantly flooded with input—through the Internet, movies, music, books, and of course, through people we interact with. However, the ways those things influence us aren’t always as obvious as the effect of water on celery.
Some things seem harmless, or even good, but they can end up having a negative effect. Other things may be perfectly enjoyable and be harmless—they may even feed our mind and increase our skill and knowledge. But still, these things may not feed our spirit the substance that it needs in order to thrive.
King Solomon was one of the richest men in the world at his time in history. He had access to pretty much anything he wanted—and it seems he tried just about everything his wealth could provide too—but in the end he cried, “Everything is meaningless!”1
He said, “Look, I have increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge. Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.”2 Obviously, none of those things satisfied him. He tried feeding his spirit with all kinds of stuff, but in the end, he still felt thirsty for something more.
So while many of the things we enjoy aren’t bad, they don’t always have what it takes to be the source of our spiritual nourishment. That’s why Jesus tells us to “abide in” Him.3 He’s telling us to make Him our source. Jesus offers us the water of life—His Spirit and His Word—and that’s the only water that will never leave our spirit thirsty.
How consistently we draw from this source also affects us physically. This summer (2011) was extremely hot in Texas. We had record high temperatures all throughout August. If I didn’t faithfully water my plants every morning and evening, they’d very quickly dry out and start to wither.
Just as a plant will grow and thrive as you water and fertilize it, so your spirit will grow as you feed it with the Word. The first chapter of Psalms talks about this. It says that when you delight in the law of the Lord—in other words, when you delight in God’s way and His Word—you’ll be like a tree planted by a river of water, bearing fruit; you won’t wither, and whatever you do will prosper.4
To me, one thing that “delighting” in the law of the Lord means is making Him my source of strength and nourishment. It means knowing I need to stay close to Him if I want to thrive spiritually.
When our source is the living water that Jesus gives us, it not only helps us to grow, but it pours out on others. Jesus said that when we’re abiding in Him—when He’s our source of nourishment—we’ll “bear much fruit.”5 That means that we’ll be able to feed and nourish others and point them to Jesus.
So what’s your source? What are you feeding your spirit? Are you growing strong and bearing fruit? Or are you feeling a bit withered and droopy? Are you soaking in living water and pouring it out on others? Or are you filling your heart with stuff that makes you temporarily feel good, but that leaves you still feeling thirsty?
Let’s make sure that our source is God’s Word. Let’s plant our roots firmly by the rivers of living water that will provide the nourishment that our soul needs.
And as we do so, we’ll grow and thrive and bear fruit.
1 Ecclesiastes 1:2.
2 Ecclesiastes 1:16–17.
3 John 15:5.
4 Psalm 1:2–3.
5 John 15:5.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by Simon W. Copyright © 2012 by The Family International