Friday, August 9, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Still Waters

Psalm 23: Still Waters Run Deep
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters." –Psalm 23:1-2 (KJV)

Recently, I drove past the Triadelphia Dam in suburban Maryland. I could see that the dam was not completely full of water, but it was full enough that water was running through the  floodgates and cascading into the river below. I could see from striated markings how deep the water could get and I was amazed that yet, it was still flowing.

Internally, I was driven back to a powerful quote that I had read about spiritual influence and leadership. In the quote, Bernard of Clairvaux, a Benedictine monk from the 12th century, contrasted wise and unwise spiritual leadership. He portrayed one as a reservoir and the other as a canal. For your edification, I inserted the quote below:

“The one who is wise, therefore will see [their] life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then [offers] the overflow without loss to itself. … Today there are many in the church who act like canals; the reservoirs are far too rare. … They want to pour [this stream] forth before they have been filled; they are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, full of presumption, to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves.”

At the Triadelphia Dam, I was reminded that leadership flows from abundance and pours into others. It is the byproduct of sufficiency and the antithesis of insufficiency. I was forced to consider the pace of my life. I realized that I was running hither and yon, with purpose and good effect. I was rightfully serving as a conduit of service and support (ministry) but simultaneously becoming depleted.

One day soon after that observation, while reposing in a rare moment of devotional solitude in my comfortable chair on the back porch of our home, I felt the familiar, filling presence of God. I heard His voice as He restored my soul with inspiration and instructions. It was memorable, remarkable and rare, only because I had not carved the time to cultivate those moments. I will get out there more often because meeting Him there is much more poignant than when I hear Him, more usually, in the car.

My time with the Lord that day flew by! As I reflected before retiring for the night, I was able to count tangible blessings. I could enumerate the experiences with others into whom I was able to direct the overflow of God’s filling of my being and their purpose. It was a good and productive day. As I reflected, the attributions for success could only go to God and the time we spent together on the porch. That is where we made a fresh connection.

Where are your green pastures, still waters and zones for refreshing and restoration? Do you know when you need to visit them? Do you know when your rhythm of life is out of balance?

When you are manifesting patience, peacefulness, kindness, generosity and gentility, these traits are likely the fruit of God’s indwelling presence in your life. You have been filled and are radiating the spirit of sufficiency. If, on the other hand you are leaking from the cracks of your wounded-ness and you are vexed, churlish, stingy, mean and spiteful, your culverts of grace are dry because you have spent too little time in the presence of God.

Triadelphia drove me to reflect, which led me to the porch, where God renewed the right spirit within me. Before I close this devotional, I’d like for you to join me in reading and reflecting on this Bible verse (Psalm 51:10-12). The King James Version (KJV) of that verse says: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

Please accept my story as an appeal to you to find your refreshing stream, your still waters and green pastures. Life is too short to live in the corrals of insufficiency. Our souls were meant to soar in the stratosphere of God’s all sufficient goodness, grace and mercy. It can only happen when we allow Him to transform us from the ruts and culverts of our lives into reservoirs of His presence, the overflow of which become life giving streams to others.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Columbia Union College (WAU) in Takoma Park, Maryland. 

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees–a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

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