by Joel Bates
I stood with my eyes closed, took a deep breath as a smile formed at the corners of my mouth, and then jumped as I hollered, “Cannon Ball!” It’s a common enough occurrence this time of year as the sun shines bright and the thermostat creeps upward, but the cool, clear water of the camp pool felt better than usual this summer. The swimming pool at Discovery Ministries is a favorite hangout, centered square in the middle of our acreage, an inviting mid-day oasis during those scorching summer months and a gathering place for rest and recreation at the close of a long day of challenge activities. So when the pool’s filtration pump broke last month, I had to act fast.
I’m not a swimming pool expert, but even I could tell that the green film developing on the surface of the water after just a day of the pump’s demise was not a good sign. It looked like our neighbor’s cow pond. Campers asked if they could still swim in the murky, pallid depths. “I don’t think it’s safe,” I warned. “But let’s wait and see what happens when my kids get out.” I mused as I noticed a decomposing rat swirling at the shallow end! Had it been a victim of the algae or just a really bad swimmer?
The pool obviously needed filtration. First, I called a repairman. “Sure, I can fix it,” agreed the raspy old handyman. “I’m free the third week of July.” That answer was unacceptable, so I tried fixing the pump myself. I bought a new impeller complete with a diffuser. I bought a new epichlorohydrin, main wear-ring seal. I bought some acetoxy siliconized adhesive. Then I bought a dictionary so I could look up the definitions for all the things I just bought! I even read the instructions and put it all together exactly as they indicated. Then I stood back as far as possible and turned on the pump. I thought about getting one of my kids to turn it on so I could keep a safer distance, but ever since their recent swim-time they hadn’t been feeling too well.
The pump began humming, and I could hear water cycling from the pool into the pump house. So far so good! As the water pressure built, so did my excitement. Suddenly a leak sprang from the pump, followed by a sudden cascade of spraying water. Within seconds, every corner of the pump house was wet. There was more water squirting from the supply line to the pump than running through it. Undaunted, I simply went inside and ordered a new pump on the internet. It arrived just four days later, but by then the pool looked less like a cow pond and more like green gelatinous pudding. I think there even may have been a lily pad or two growing in the far corner. No, that can’t be right because lily pads need fresh water!
I optimistically attached the new pump and fired it up. It hummed nicely and began pumping thick green water through its lines like cholesterol through clogged arteries. There were no leaks in the pipes, so I grabbed some chlorine and dispensed copious quantities into the pool. I vacuumed and skimmed and filtered and scrubbed until the water began to lighten, first to a cloudy gray and then to an opaque blue until finally reaching the crystal clear I’d been longing for.
As I put away all the tools, parts, and pieces of the operation, I knelt down beside the new pump and filtration system to say a little prayer of thanks. That’s when it dawned on me that God has been performing the same operation on me. He gives us a heart to pump our physical blood to all the parts of our body to profuse the hungry tissues, but taking a deeper look under the hood of the soul, I realized that He is at work like an active filtration system, sifting and straining the sin particles from my heart by His grace. The apostle Paul put it plainly:
1 Cor 6:9-11 …do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived... And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The offense of sin affects the human heart a lot like a swimming pool without the filtration pump—creating stagnant, scummy, and inhospitable mire, unsuitable to anyone needing a refreshing oasis. Sin is like that, and the longer we go without the revitalizing, living water of Jesus, the more the moss of sin and doubt grows. But Paul is talking about how things used to be before we met Jesus. Now we are a washed-clean, sanctified, living-water people group.
Heb 10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
I surfaced from my cannonball plunge grinning widely, not simply because the water was clean and pure and the filtration system working well, but because I found myself immersed in an object lesson of grace, redemption, and sanctification. Here around me was good water, a lot like the living water within me, water purified by the filtration pump called “Christ.”
Come along side us as we journey in and out of the wilderness, discovering our Creator in creation.