What’s Your Source?

April 3, 2024

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 this can provide an analogy for our spiritual lives. The source of our nourishment or input, and whatever we are exposed to, will influence us—often for better or for worse. We’re constantly flooded with input—through the Internet, cellphones, social media, movies, music, books, and of course, through the people we interact with. However, the ways those things influence us aren’t always as obvious or immediately visible 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 or good—they may even feed our mind and increase our skill and knowledge. But still, these things will not feed our spirit what it needs in order to thrive and to prosper in our spiritual journey.

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!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

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” (Ecclesiastes 1:16–17). Obviously, none of those things satisfied him. He tried accessing every type of input, knowledge, and pleasure he could, but in the end, he still felt thirsty for something more.

So while many of the things we encounter and take in throughout our everyday lives 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 and in His love (John 15:4–5). “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” And if we do, He promised that His joy will be in us and that our joy will be full (John 15:9–11).

Jesus is telling us to make Him our source. He taught that He is the bread of life and “whoever comes to Me will never go hungry,” and whoever believes in Him will never thirst (John 6:35). Jesus offers us the water of life—His Spirit and His Word—and that’s the only water that will never leave our spirits thirsty.

One summer, it was extremely hot where I live 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 our spirit grows as we feed it with the Word of God. The first chapter of Psalms speaks about this. It teaches us 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 (Psalm 1:2–3).

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 that 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 spills over on others. Jesus said that when we’re abiding in Him—when He’s our source of nourishment—we’ll “bear much fruit” (John 15:5). As we abide in Him, His Spirit empowers us to help and nourish others and point them to Jesus.

In today’s world, where we are inundated with input from many sources, I find it helpful to do some soul searching and take stock from time to time of what I am feeding my spirit. I find it helpful to ask myself some questions: Am I growing stronger in my faith and bearing fruit? Or am I feeling a bit withered and droopy? Am I eating the bread of life in God’s Word and soaking in His living water? Am I being faithful to pour out His words of life and truth on others so they can come to the Source and hunger and thirst no more? Or am I allowing my time and spirit to be absorbed with stuff that doesn’t have lasting value and maybe makes me temporarily feel good, but leaves my soul still feeling thirsty?

May God’s Word always be our source, as we delight in His Word and ways. As we plant our roots firmly by the rivers of living water that will provide the nourishment that our soul needs, God has promised that we’ll grow and thrive and bear fruit.

Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.

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