post and photos by June Friesen,
How often have you sat by a beautiful lake and pondered – ‘I sure wish life was so beautiful’. The water is clear and the waves are lapping gently on the shore. The bushes, the trees, the grass are a brilliant and luscious green. You observe the occasional butterfly, lizard, duck, and/or bird who seem to be at peace with their surroundings. But ever so quickly somehow your mind wanders back to another picture – from another place that seems to resonate more readily to the place where you actually find yourself, particularly at this moment. I call this the parable of ‘The Murky Pond.’ One begins to see all the negatives in the beautiful lake – look at the dead weeds and reeds; look at the broken tree branches; look at the sludge, the moss, the webs, the occasional bug flies by and life seems rather dull and stagnant – maybe even kind of smelly if one gets too close.
Paul writes to the Corinthians:
“It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part.”
As I sat with these words I imagined Paul’s discouragement, his brokenness…. I am not sure just what his experience had been just before or in the present moment of these feelings but given all of the injustices he faced, imprisonments, beatings, sitting in stocks, public humiliations, etc. And even as I am writing this, I think of what it must have been like to have been sitting in the dungeons of the prisons – was it or could it have been like being in a murky, muddy, smelly pond? Were some of the thoughts going through his mind like – will I ever see the real sea or rivers again? Let us never forget that Paul, while he was a great evangelist for the cause of Christianity, he still was human. In fact, remember that in the beginning of Christianity he was one who would have been responsible for doing to others exactly what he was facing now. Yet, Paul reminds us here of the importance of trusting God even in these situations as well as being thankful that we have others who will pray for us in the struggles that we are facing.
The Murky Pond
What is this that I see here?
Ugh, it is yucky looking,
It is smelly and looks so gross,
What beauty can there be in anything so ugly?
What usefulness can there be in such muck?
If someone falls in there –
Will they disappear?
Will there ever be hope of survival?
It certainly is the picture of dying –
Soon death will come –
And all that will remain will be hard, cracked soil.
But then –
I stop and I ponder this murky pond –
I even took this photo –
And then it was that I noticed –
There was life here –
And it was not only the life that was not far from the water edge –
No there was actually life active in and above the murkiness –
And not only was there life but soon I noticed there was beautiful life –
Several dragonflies no doubt had found a home here –
And to them it was beautiful, it was safe,
Yes, the murky pond held a safe place for them as well as food and drink.
You see, there were still branches across the pond,
There were little minute insects on the surface of the pond,
There was foliage at the edges… yes, there was hope
And they were embracing it to the fullest in the moment.
And as I pondered this at the edge of this pond –
I could not help but think of some recent moments in my own life
Where it seemed as if I was living by a murky pond,
Rather than by the edge of a beautiful lush pond or lake
With beautiful life all about for me to enjoy.
I thought about what had helped me get to the lush spaces of my life,
Those times I allowed my spirit to be nurtured with the reign of the Spirit,
And now what had allowed me to get to the murky places of my life,
And I began to realize it probably was because of a spiritual drought.
What is it that has caused this spiritual drought within me?
Have I shut off the rain clouds of the Spirit with my attitudes?
Have I allowed my spirit to slowly wither, until it is near death…
And in my spirit’s parched state it is also
All murky and muddy – stale and stinky –
And not only are others aware of this –
But God is and He is beginning to slowly break through from within –
His Spirit within is a like a wellspring –
And gently I feel it nudging from within –
And I am beginning to feel refreshment arise–
Ah… I kind of like this breath of freshness –
Ah… God please come and rain with Your Spirit upon me once again –
Let me feel that cleansing and refreshing rain –
Please come and flood me with cleansing and healing –
Making me whole and alive once again.
Let it be that in this new life I will also be the place where others can find life, healing and refreshment –
Let it be that You will flow forth from within me in power like never before –
And may healing begin for many for the glory and honor of your kingdom –
Amen and amen.
June Friesen 7/20/21
(All photos and writings are by June Friesen)