The following letter found in a baking powder can wired to the handle of an old pump offered the only hope of drinking water on a very long and seldom-used trail across the Amargosa Desert:
“This pump is all right as of June 1932. I put a new sucker washer into it and it ought to last five years. But the washer dries out, and the pump has got to be primed. Under the white rock, I buried a bottle of water, out of the sun and cork end up. There’s enough water in it to prime the pump, but not if you drink some first. Pour about one fourth and let her soak to wet the leather. Then pour in the rest medium fast and pump like crazy. You’ll git water. The well has never run dry. Have faith. When you git watered up, fill the bottle and put it back like you found it for the next feller.”
“P.S. Don’t go drinking up the water first. Prime the pump with it and you’ll get all you can hold.”
If you were a lonely traveler shuffling down that parched desert trail with your canteen bone dry, would you trust this guy, Desert Pete? For all you know he is a lunatic. What if it a mad hoax? There are no guarantees to what he claims is true. And what would motivate you to prime the pump with the water in the bottle, perhaps the only water available? But you understand the fact that old wells have to be primed. It’s a gamble. A risk. An adventure. What do you do?
The lonely traveler had to prime the pump before all the water flowed.
Similar actions occur every day: battles before victory; struggles before celebration; steps before arrivals; practice before perfection; preparation before completion; matriculation before graduation.
Over and over in Scripture, this pattern is repeated. The Israelites had to march to the Red Sea before God parted it. Naaman had to wash seven times in the water before God cured him of leprosy. Gideon had to reduce his army from 32,000 down to 300 before God would deliver them from the Midianites. The loaves and fishes were given before Jesus multiplied them.
Here’s how this truth applies to us.
Often, we have to wait before moving ahead with God.
No one likes to wait. Waiting is not a strong suit for most of us. We tend to be horn-honking, microwaving, Fed-Ex mailing, fast-food eating, express lane shopping people. Sometimes God says wait.
Waiting is the hardest part of trusting. We live by the adage: Don’t just stand there, do something. While God often says to us: Don’t just do something, stand there.
Too often we want God’s resources, but we do not want his timing. We forget that the work God is doing in us while we wait is as essential as for whatever we are waiting. Waiting means that we give God the benefit of the doubt that he knows what he is doing.
Waiting is God’s way of seeing if we will trust him before we move forward. Waiting reminds me that I am not in charge.
When we get to the crossing moments of life we are not just waiting around; we are waiting for God. Therefore, we can trust his timing and his wisdom.
Always, we have to consecrate ourselves today before God sends blessings tomorrow.
God calls his people to holiness, purity, and separation. We are to flush our minds of the filth and dirt that has accumulated over the years. We are to approach God with pure hearts, clean hands and feet, and blameless minds. When God showed up in the Old Testament, people recognize that the place was holy. People took off their shoes. They prostrated in humility.
The need for holiness, purity, and separation comes before the blessings of tomorrow, not the other way around. We often believe that if God blesses, then we’ll get our lives right. God says that holiness precedes honor. Cleanliness comes before usefulness. Penance before power.
The promise that God would miraculously work tomorrow was contingent on the people’s willingness to consecrate themselves today.
Inevitably, we have to step out in faith before God acts.
God wants to do some fantastic things tomorrow but before he does—we have to trust today. We are required to demonstrate faith. Like an automatic-opening door, it will only open as we move toward it.
Faith is risky business. Kierkegaard wrote, “Without risk, there is no faith.” For faith to be faith, we venture out beyond our abilities and resources. We take the step before God acts.
Often God provides no solution to our problems until we trust him and move ahead. While he wants to supernaturally intervene in the difficulties and challenges of our everyday lives, he can’t until we first demonstrate faith by walking forward on the path of obedience. Compared to God’s part, our part is minuscule but necessary. We don’t have to do much, but we do have to do something.
This spiritual reality plays out in my life in the following manners:
• When I take the risk of giving generously, I discover that I really can trust God to take care of me.
• When I take the risk of asking forgiveness of another person, I discover that God really will honor my confession.
• When I risk using my spiritual gift, I can know the joy of being used by God.
• When I risk making a phone call or visit to encourage or show concern, I can know the satisfaction of touching another human being at their point of need.
The weary traveler reading Desert Pete’s letter was put to the test. Would he prime the pump? Are you being faced with an obstacle, a challenge that seems like an impossibility? Will you take the first step of faith?
God honors radical, risk-taking faith.