Sunday, February 13, 2011

God’s Word is an Inexhaustible Spring of Life

I am taking a break to share a quote I read today from St. Ephrem of Syria, who lived in the 4th century. Even though I just discovered this quote, it describes what I began to experience as a young adult as I began to study the Bible. I remember having discussions with friends in college about how we would come back to a passage that we had read in the past, and see new things we hadn't previously noticed. I can testify now 30 years later that my experience of the Bible continues to be as a spring of life that never runs dry.

Lord, who can comprehend even one of your words? We lose more of it than we grasp, like those who drink from a living spring. For God’s word offers different facets according to the capacity of the listener, and the Lord has portrayed his message in many colors, so that whoever gazes upon it can see in it what suits him. Within it he has buried manifold treasures, so that each of us might grow rich in seeking them out.

The word of God is a tree of life that offers us blessed fruit from each of its branches. It is like that rock which was struck open in the wilderness, from which all were offered spiritual drink. As the Apostle says: They ate spiritual food and they drank spiritual drink.

And so whenever anyone discovers some part of the treasure, he should not think that he has exhausted God’s word. Instead he should feel that this is all that he was able to find of the wealth contained in it. Nor should he say that the word is weak and sterile or look down on it simply because this portion was all that he happened to find. But precisely because he could not capture it all he should give thanks for its riches.

Be glad then that you are overwhelmed, and do not be saddened because he has overcome you. A thirsty man is happy when he is drinking, and he is not depressed because he cannot exhaust the spring. So let this spring quench your thirst, and not your thirst the spring. For if you can satisfy your thirst without exhausting the spring, then when you thirst again you can drink from it once more; but if when your thirst is sated the spring is also dried up, then your victory would turn to your own harm.

Be thankful then for what you have received, and do not be saddened at all that such an abundance still remains. What you have received and attained is your present share, while what is left will be your heritage. For what you could not take at one time because of your weakness, you will be able to grasp at another if you only persevere. So do not foolishly try to drain in one draught what cannot be consumed all at once, and do not cease out of faintheartedness from what you will be able to absorb as time goes on.


Elizabeth said...

This is very well done! When I was going through my confirmation year, I worried that I wouldn't be able to reconnect to the on-fire passion I had at that time. I worried my prayer life would become routine and that I wouldn't be in awe after a while.

Gratefully, with a dry spell here and there, that has not happened. The fire has heated up and you explain the reason so well in this post!

Gregory said...

Thanks! I definitely have had my share of dry spells. Much of it I think it's a normal part of our spiritual growth. Just like we have cycles of waking and sleeping, and children grow in spurts, our spiritual lives naturally have ups and downs. However, I also know some of my dry times were connected with lowered or misguided expectations for my life, rather than trusting God for the blessings of his own choosing.