Don Goulding - Blog

Full or Empty?

… and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

The breeze tickled the surface of the lake, gained the shore, and made the bare oak trees giggle. It blew across my upturned face, and I praised the Lord for another day of his living gifts.

How could it be that I sinned daily, yet my heavenly Father rushed to forgive, pulled me to his heart, and promised heaven? Astounding. I was adopted through grace, and joy swirled about me, taking the form of the morning wind.

The breeze continued until it reached the dock, and pressed a man shivering in his wheelchair. He looked empty.

“I’m stuck here, and can’t go up the hill.” He pointed to a dilapidated trailer.

“I’ll push, but may I pray for you first?” I said.

“Oh, you’re religious are you?”

I explained that religion was manmade, I had friendship with Jesus. He consented to prayer, but as I opened my heart to heaven, the middle aged cast-off stared like I was some other species.

“Wow, I wish I could pray like that,” the empty man said.

When I stop to ponder on the truth that Jesus purchased my place in God’s family, then even the lakeside breeze becomes holy to me. It enters my heart with love that surpasses knowledge until I burst with all the fullness of God.

But when apathy seduces me into taking my adoption for granted, or even doubting it, the holy wind rushes out of me. I become like the empty man. The difference between full and empty is a single breath of the love of Jesus.

Prayer: Sweet Savior, I inhale your sacrificial love.

The Winemaker

… the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew) … (John 2:9)

Jesus changes me into wine. Not tasteless water, but heady, sweet wine—cranberry-red, party enlivening liquor. 

Like the servants at the wedding in Cana, my job is to fill the jars with water. I pour in a few buckets of kind words, and whatever generous acts I can muster. I often spill and leave the jars half full. It’s nothing miraculous as I struggle to dump in faithfulness during trials. Mine are quite unremarkable contributions.

Then Jesus comes to the party. There are no flashes of supernatural light, no angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, but he turns my water into wine. I can’t name the exact moment of transformation. At some point, he simply raises a brow, or bends a smile, and my haphazard obedience is changed into the effervescence of love. My countenance sparkles with robust joy, finished in peace, and with hints of generosity. Heaven applauds and angels want a taste.

Like the wedding servants, only I know where the wine comes from. I’m certain that it’s nothing but a watered-down belief that I pour into the jars. Jesus causes the transformation. I can no more claim authorship of the beauty in my life than the servants in Cana claimed to be winemasters. They knew that turning the water into wine was all Jesus’s doing. I know that turning my callus heart into one of loving kindness is all Jesus’s doing. 

I still have a few containers of plain water—trials that plague me. My assignment is to top the jars with faithfulness—and wait. The day will surely come when those, too, will be distilled into glory.

Prayer: Blessed Lord Jesus, make me into wine.

Bossy Bee

God is in heaven and you are on earth!
Therefore, let your words be few. (Ecclesiastics 5:2)

What would we think of a bossy bee?

“And there’s a human. Buzzy, buzz. Humans are fat larvae of bees from outer space. Buzz. You over there, hold your antennae like mine. Buzz. Our queen is foolish. She ought to listen to me. Buzzy, buzz.”

With so many billions of bees on the earth, I’m afraid I’d be tempted to squash this one.

I used to be important, and everyone listened to me, or so I thought. Then God broke the illusion. The business I owned was the wind in my pride. The enterprise failed and my sail hung flat. I decided to sell my belongings in readiness for the mission field. No one wanted my lifetime accumulation of stuff, and heaps went to the dump. One night I lay under the stars in southern Africa, and realized there was another half to the Milky Way.

My business acumen is negligible, my possessions are meaningless, and my grasp of the cosmos is laughable.

In spite of my minuscule place in a gigantic universe, I preach earthly views on everything from politics to dietary advice. 

“Our president makes stupid mistakes, buzzy, buzz.” “You there, don’t read your Bible like that. Here, watch me. Buzz.” “Organic, you should only eat organic, and use probiotics. Plus antioxidants to cleanse of free radicals. Buzzy, buzz.”

Whew. I get tired of hearing me, you must be bored silly. And heaven hears my boldfaced spewing.

The only opinions I need to hang onto are those from God himself. His truth, and his truth alone, has any grain of importance. Therefore, if what I have to say is not from him, and plainly endorsed by Scripture, I’ll endeavor to keep my little bee mouth shut.

Prayer: Mighty God, you awe me into silence.