The warm, cloudless summer afternoon was just perfect for a good swim and John was quite excited as he changed into his swimming trunks. He gathered his towel, music player, a huge mug of iced tea and dashed out the back door to the pool in the backyard. As he approached the deck of the pool, John noticed how quiet the yard was today, too quiet actually. “Oh, no!” John loudly exclaimed in disappointment, “the pump isn’t running.” He hurriedly climbed up the steps onto the deck. “Ugh!” he remarked with disgust as he took the cover off of the pool, “the pump must have been off for weeks. How stagnant and awful this water has become.” His prior excitement now waned quickly as he thought of the amount of time and cleaning that the pool would need before he can even place his foot in it.
Have you ever seen a stagnant body of water? It looks rather unpleasant, in fact, the longer it remains that way the more disgusting and repulsive it becomes. There are all kinds of collected water, from ditches to large lakes that can become stagnant. Some are loaded with oil and other chemicals, while others are full of trash, debris and bacteria. Some may even have dead fish or small animals in them.
The way these bodies of water became stagnant varies, but their one common element is the lack of a source of fresh water. When they no longer have anything to keep them fresh, stagnation develops. For example, a small pond can become so stagnant that even a heavy rainstorm does little to clear it. There are instances where the stagnation becomes worse when the water begins to evaporate—leaving less space available for the debris to move around, and less room for anything to enter to help eliminate the stagnation. Although there are beneficial uses for stagnation, the focus here is on the areas of stagnation that can cause harm.
When we believe in Jesus Christ and allow Him to reign in our hearts, we become like a lake of fresh water. The more we allow Him to work by His Spirit inside of us, to purge us of all of the sinful baggage we’ve accumulated throughout our lives, the more that ‘lake of water’ becomes cleaner and clearer. But when we hinder, or even stop His purging, then the clean water no longer enters in. The result—we begin to stagnate. If we continue to resist His work in our lives, He will eventually withdraw, leaving us to ourselves, and we’ll ultimately come to the point of complete stagnation.
Any time we take our eyes off of Jesus and His complete sacrifice made for us at the cross, and put them on the cares and pleasures of this world, we are saying essentially that we don’t need His help, and that we are happy with the way we were before He entered our hearts. When we do this, we are actually rejecting the sacrifice He made for us. This allows doubt and unbelief to enter into our hearts, which will bring us back to trying to solve our problems on our own again without God, problems that we really can’t solve without Him.
Ways to keep from becoming stagnant:
- Spend more time with Jesus in fellowship and communication through prayer. Prayer is when God changes us as we seek Him to meet our needs.
- Read His Word (the Bible). The more we spend time reading, studying, and concentrating on His Word, the more we understand Him, and the stronger our foundation becomes.
- Separate ourselves from the cares and pleasures of this world. As we submit more and more to Jesus, we’ll have less interest in what we once considered to be of great value and importance before we knew Him.
- Continually yield ourselves to Him as He works more and more within us. When we resist the work that He is doing in our hearts through His Spirit, then He backs off and leaves us on our own to solve our problems.
- Trust in and obey His Word. When He speaks to us through His written Word, His spoken Word, or His Word placed on our hearts, we need to act on what He says. If we ignore or fail to do what He is leading us to do, He will withdraw and wait until we eventually do respond and obey.
If we allow ourselves to become more and more ‘stagnant,’ sin is the ‘debris’ that starts to fill our formerly clean ‘lake.’ As a result, we become repulsive to God, since He is holy and can never fellowship with sin. Let’s keep the fresh, living water of Jesus Christ flowing in and through our hearts. We should not allow ourselves to become stagnant by ignoring God and His Word, thereby taking the whole problem on ourselves. Jesus said, “…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Let’s continually drink of the water that He gives, and keep the stagnation out of our hearts.