Don Goulding - Blog

Watering Can

 

bucket… Jesus stood up and shouted out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. Just as the scripture says, ‘From within him will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38 (NETFull)

I looked out the mission-house in Zimbabwe to see twelve-year-old Pauline skipping up the driveway. She was coming to make strawberry jam with Dani. This African child was a beam of sunshine. She didn’t walk, she skipped, she didn’t grumble, she sang. My skepticism doubted her perfect joy and I plied the child with questions.

“Hey, Pauline, what would you do if another girl was angry with you?”

“I’d show them the same love Jesus showed me.” A confident dimple punctuated her reply.

Pauline had every reason to be a sullen child. Her parents were taken by AIDS and she shared an orphanage room with fifteen other girls. She was a watering can made to carry God’s joy to thirsty flowers, but life riddled the can with shotgun holes. Rather than abandon her assignment, Pauline let the holes become sprinklers through which she spread more love to those along her path.

The people we are called to love are not only those distant flowers who have been dehydrated by life, but also those along our path. It is those near me that I have the most difficulty loving. I can go into a third-world country and pour myself into the needy but at home I struggle to love my neighbors. God’s loving joy is for both the foreign bloom and the domestic weed.

If I’m truly carrying the living water of Jesus, it becomes an artesian spring I can’t deplete. I can afford to let it spill freely from the holes of my brokenness onto others. The points of my greatest need become the source of my best gifts.

Those near me have seen my dysfunction, now it’s time to let them see grace flowing from those same holes.

Prayer: Jesus, let me carry your love to all people in every circumstance.

 

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Sin's Gore

Esztergom BasilicaHe said, “Throw her down!” So they threw her down, and when she hit the ground, her blood splattered against the wall and the horses, and Jehu drove his chariot over her … “Dispose of this accursed woman’s corpse. Bury her, for after all, she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went to bury her, they found nothing left but the skull, feet, and palms of the hands. (2 Kings 9:33-35)

Racing one hundred forty kilometers per hour through the ancient tiled buildings of Esztergom, Hungary, three intoxicated medical students crashed their BMW. Two pedestrians were badly injured, one passenger went into a coma, the driver and his seat-mate were both decapitated.

The next morning, I sat across the roadway at an outdoor coffeeshop. The gore had been removed but I couldn’t avert my eyes from the site. The Spirit of God spoke to me about the horrific outcome of sin. It clung to me like smoke from rancid garbage.

I get too relaxed among evil. I treat wickedness like a rich uncle who lets me live with him. I laugh and stay in his house because he pays my bills. Just so, as long as the world pretends to care for me, I indulge its vile.

God is never comfortable with sin. It’s not my place to judge others, but I need to be sickened by my own wrongdoing as God is sickened. Everything from exaggeration to copy-write infringement, from rude comments to impure thoughts—it all adds up to revolt against Jehovah.

Our free will is a sacred right with eternal consequences. Every choice alters the universe for good or bad. So to God, sin is never laughable, rather it’s blood-splattering, head-rolling, life-decimating evil. Every unholy act, word, and thought will be punished, whether in hell, or, thanks to Jesus, there is one more way divine wrath can be spent against evil—on the cross.

Prayer: LORD God, help me to despise my sin as you do.

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Sheep or Goats?

Waiting in our van until the goats clear the roadWhen the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Matthew 25:31-34 (NETFull)

While in route to an outreach in southern India, our van was surrounded by a large flock of sheep mixed with goats. In temperate climates, sheep often don’t grow a fleece and it’s difficult to distinguish them from goats.

“The sheep carry their tails down, the goat’s tails are up,” one of the nationals informed us, but tails were twitching both ways.

As our driver tooted the hooter and inched forward, several necks in the flock sported personal collars. It occurred to me the shepherds knew each animal, perhaps by name, and they certainly knew which ones were sheep and goats. The passengers gawking through the windows proved wholly unqualified to identify the animals.

When Jesus said he will one day separate the sheep from the goats he was comparing the short-haired middle-eastern sheep of his time to goats. The two looked so much alike that only the shepherd was qualified to identify the species.

Everyday my life intertwines with both saved sheep and dammed goats and I can’t tell them apart. And it’s not my job. I act the fool when I assume the Shepherd’s task of labeling humans and separating the blessed from the cursed. It’s a full-time job sorting out my own heart and it leaves me no time for categorizing and correcting others.

My responsibility is to love everybody, no matter how goatish they seem, because who knows, the Shepherd may yet call them a sheep.

Prayer: Mighty Judge Lord Jesus, forgive me for assuming your job.

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