There was once a man who lived by a mountain lake. The benefits he received through that lake were many. It provided him fish to eat. It drew deer to hunt for food and skins, geese for food and their warm down feathers. It provided him water that could be purified for drinking and plumbed into his house for bathing. It gave occasion for many leisure activities, such as swimming and sailing in the summer and ice-skating in the winter, which also brought tourism and opportunity for employment. The water table from the lake supported the surrounding pine forest, giving lumber for all kinds of building. The flow of the nearby stream powered the mill that he used to make flour. The soft lull of the lake lapping the shoreline at night even proved to be just the medicine he needed for a sound night’s sleep. The lake was a bountiful gift—like a cornucopia overflowing with blessings for the man who dwelled on its shore.
The man who lived “by the lake” (not only as in “next to the lake,” but also as in “lived off the gifts the lake provided”) was stunned and hurt when one spring the lake of blessing dried up. He crept down to the lake, kicking the scales of mud to see if the water was hiding underneath. He lifted up stones to see if water would burst forth. He’d been so busy fawning over this great gift lake, he’d never stopped to thoughtfully consider from where this body of blessing came. The lake, even with all of its attending blessings, was still itself only a gift, NOT the Giver. He followed the dried-up stream beds that fed the lake to the foot of the mountain. He scaled the mountain and its waterfalls to its top where he met a pregnant cloud—a cloud that would soon give birth and shower water on to the mountains that would be funneled through the streams to fill the lake. So the lake, the stream, the mountain, and the cloud all led him to the feet of a gracious God who causes the rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). It was absence of gift that proved the true gift for the lake-dwelling man; it drove him to the true source of his every blessing.
You, dear child of God, have your own bountiful lake of blessing—your own distinct lake—often overflowing with divine mercies far beyond your needs or wants. And sometimes it too is dry, mercifully giving you the repentance that abundance cannot. There are moments when you lack thanks altogether. Far more often, however, your thankfulness simply finds you at the “shore of your lake”—your life—happily cherishing the gift—like nine cured lepers—but failing to trace that gift back to its True Source.
But greater than any gift your own “pool of blessing” offers, your gracious heavenly Father has worked in you the spring of faith, welling up to eternal life. Faith given and sustained by the merciful God of heaven is saving you from aimlessly emptying your thanks into a pool of blessing that is here today and gone tomorrow. The faith given you by God the Holy Spirit humbles you at the feet of the Giver. It supplies you with repentance for thanklessness. That gift of faith fixes you to the supreme Gift—the holy life, sacrificial death, and life-giving resurrection of His only Son, Your Savior. With our eyes we see the pool of blessing. With our tongue we taste its fruits. With our ears we enjoy its calm refrain. And in faith, given by the same merciful Lord, we give thanks to the Source of every good and perfect gift.
O Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall show forth Your praise (Psalm 51:15).
Reverend Kyle Madson
Divine Mercy Lutheran Church
Hudson Oaks, TX
Managing Editor, The Lutheran Sentinel