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The DEEP

Healing Springs

Wisdom and a matter of the heart

Proverbs 4:20-23

20  My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;

22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

 

From all over America they come. They drive for miles along the highways and backroads of South Carolina. Most of them bring empty containers, large and small, with the expectation of being filled. They come for the cool, clear water that tastes pure, hearkens of legend and mystery, and satisfies the body and soul. These travelers are not pilgrims to a medieval shrine, but ordinary people who are seeking the extraordinary waters of a place called “God’s Acre Healing Springs,” near the little town of Blackville. 

At this scenic crossroads a small roadside park sits at the edge of the South Carolina Lowcountry and from the ground beneath it bubbles the waters of a natural spring. Formed from the deep limestone aquifer, water sparkles fresh from three fountains that have been built, and it is free for anyone who visits. 

People claim that the springs have medical and healing properties. Of the dozens of visitors that can be present at the springs at any given moment, there will be as many stories of wondrous healing of aches and pains, internal ailments and even cancer. One man who had driven all the way from North Carolina with a truck load of empty plastic jugs, told joyously how the spring waters had healed his dying mother. 

Named by a previous owner, who deeded this small plot of land to the Almighty, and named it “God’s Acre Healing Springs,” the place boasts a legend of Native Americans bringing severely wounded soldiers here during the American Revolution in order to heal them. Part roadside oddity, part local watering hole, and part backwoods pharmacy, the springs are a natural wonder–and the water is indeed cold, clear, and sweet. 

My family and I are frequent visitors to “God’s Acre Healing Springs” many times and always come away refreshed and happy. Although located in a rural area, the springs are surrounded by working farmland, where doubtless chemicals are employed for fertilizer and pesticides. Within a mile is the swampy bottomland Edisto River, whose dark, tannin-stained waters–although scenic–are far from drinkable. Yet Healing Springs bubbles clean and fresh from deep subterranean rivers, as Coleridge describes in his poem “Kubla Khan:”


Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Solomon, whose desert kingdom knows how precious a spring of cool, pure water can be, draws on such an image as he continues to teach his son, and the children of Israel: 

20  My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;

22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh–Proverbs 4:20-22

Solomon’s instructions are the voice of three generations, the wisdom of God passed down from David to Solomon and now to his son. These verses are the words of hard-won knowledge, given the track record of David and Solomon’s own sins, repentance and restoration. 

This is the duty of the young to heed the wisdom of the old–and the old to love them enough to pass on the wisdom of God. Os Guinness reminds us that generations have a duty to one another in light of God’s sanctification of time and His eternal purposes:

Time and history have meaning. Under the twin truths of God's sovereignty and human significance, time and history are going somewhere, and each us is not only unique and significant in ourselves, but we have a unique and significant part to play in our own lives, in our own generation, and therefore in the overall sweep of history.–Os Guinness 

This is a reminder too, that wisdom and the knowledge of the path of righteousness is resisted at all costs by the adversary. When it seems that the young are resistant to wisdom–or when the old act like fools–you must not forget that there is a spiritual element at work too. Pastor William Still shines light on the spiritual warfare that takes place when God’s wisdom is not seen and cherished among the generations:

There is a futile hostility of satan to his God and maker. We are pawns in the devil’s game to get at God through us. The devil doesn’t care tuppence for any of us–he wants to use us to get to God.–William Still 

Do you ever find yourself on the far end of foolishness and wonder where everything went wrong? Have you found yourself enamored by the voice of the devil through the siren song of this world and its hollow joys? It is never too late to repent and return to the foot of the cross. The key to this is reflected in these verses, for scripture is always there with its eternal richness, as the psalmist says:

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.–Psalm 119:11

Solomon continues with his own instruction in similar fashion:

23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.–Proverbs 4:23

Here we have the image of the life-giving spring, and its source within your heart. In ancient cultures, it is the heart and not the brain that is the focus of all human essence. The bible tracks along the same lines, with the heart not being a seat of emotions, as we think of it in our modern culture, but that from which all human essence flows. 

In Proverbs 2:2 the father calls on the child to “apply your heart” to understanding wisdom. This is not an invitation to “follow your heart” as the modern idiom suggests, but to tune your entire being to follow God’s holy wisdom. It is through your heart that your thoughts–and then your actions–will be steered. Tim Keller describes this in a most practical way:    

What the heart most loves and trusts, the mind finds reasonable, and the will finds doable.–Tim Keller, “Gods Wisdom for Navigating Life”

One of the most wonderful things about Proverbs is how God uses this portion of His word to address your whole life. From your relationship with Him, to your interactions with others, to how you view yourself as His creation and in light of the world around you. You know the things that drive you and move you throughout your days, from the most visible aspects of your personality, to the secret motivations that pull you to obey or stray from the true path.

What are the motivations of tour heart? Do you live and act in certain ways so as to meet the approval of others, or do you seek only to honor God? Do your past failures and present insecurities drive you to fear the words and work of man, or do you live knowing that your sovereign God is in control? Do you struggle against the power of besetting  sins, or do you rest in knowing that Christ’s work on the cross is all-sufficient and His blood covers your every transgression?

You must know that the things you struggle with every day are the same things that even the greatest and most faithful believers have wrestled with-and found victory in Christ. Have you have ever seen a skilled clock maker or piano tuner at work?  If so, you will have doubtless been fascinated by the skill and craft, as special tools are employed to set wheels and dials aright or to tighten loose strings to the perfect pitch. God has given you this same thing in His word and through His Son, that your heart may be kept in perfect pitch to His will. 

The key to this is found in scripture, for in it is the way to stay on the path of righteousness. Walter Chantry recounts that all of your sins can be addressed in the Bible, and all that remains is to pray and apply the verses on a daily basis. The ancient way of catechesis or simple memory work will help keep the waters of your heart pure. He offers sound advice:

Have you memorized scriptures that are relevant to the thing that tempts you the most?–Walter Chantry

 Think about this. What sins trouble you most? Jealousy? Fearfulness? Insecurity? Sexual sin or love of self? No matter what you struggle with, there is a scriptural key to breaking its hold on your heart. Suppose you deal with flashes of anger or a deep-seated resentment of all who have done or may do you wrong. It may help to memorize James 1:20: 

For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.–James 1:20

to repeat in moments of need and to focus your heart on the One who has forgiven you, that you may forgive others:

32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.–Ephesians 4:32 

Your call, then, is to daily seek to orient your heart to be like that of Christ Jesus, the true embodiment of God’s wisdom. Like a crystal-clear spring of spring of water, He cleanses and purifies your heart to follow Him and to be that pleasing child of God that you long to be. This setting of your heart on Him is beautifully captured in the classic hymn from 1758, “Come Thou Found of Every Blessing”:


Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

Like the cheerful waters of Healing Springs attracts visitors from all around, so a heart that is filled with the pollution of life and this sinful world will also poison those around it. In 1854, a terrible epidemic of cholera swept through London. People blamed insects, the air, an unidentified “miasma,” and all sorts of things and in the space of a few years, nearly 15,000 people had died.

Finally, one physician, Dr. John Snow, realized that the source of the deadly illness lay not in “bad air” but in contaminated drinking water. The filth of mid-19th century, industrial London had seeped into public fountains and private wells to spread the epidemic to unsuspecting residents. Quickly, the city moved to improve sewage, drainage and lives were saved as water quality improved.

Do you guard your heart from the sins of the world and from your own selfish desires? What flows from your heart can bring pollution and poison to those around you–or it can bring the pure, clear love of Jesus to others. In order to guard your heart, remember and memorize His word–and pray daily that that He will use you to lead others to the living water where they will thirst no more. In Him, you and they will find the joy in the wells of salvation: 

2 Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.–Isaiah 12:2-3

 

 

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The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

 

 

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