Take a moment and see yourself at the edge of a body of water with clear water. It’s the shore of fresh water lake you’re familiar, the beach in the Bahamas, or the clear cold water of a mountain stream in Montana. The water stretches before you, you feel the sun on your face and you stand ankle deep in the water barefoot.
See yourself there for a second…the air feels warm…the water feels cool against your feet and shins… you curl your toes into the bottom…
In your hand is a mason jar..and you reach down and dip the jar into the water….digging slightly into the gritty bottom to scoop up some with water.
You bring the jar up to your face…the heavier sediment falling immediately to the bottom, the water is murky, with mud, silt, and sand also stirring through it. It’s neither drinkable, nor can you see through it. You put the cover of the jar on and you turn the jar upside down and watch the settling debris in the water fall through it, making it murky and brown.
If you shake the jar hard the water, rocks, and sand make noise as they hit the side of the jar. When you stop shaking it, the rocks and sand settle immediately, but if you wait….if you’re still…the sediment, the haziness starts to separate. If you could wait for hours and you’re still…everything would settle and the water would becomes perfectly translucent, perfectly clear.
It is only through time, patience, and stillness does everything separate.
Our minds are kind of the same way.
Our lives have interactions that are like water with a big scoop of rocks, sand, and silt. In my mind, I constantly turn things over and over and over…like shaking the jar. He says “be still and know I am God” for a reason. He uses time of solitude with Him to settle those things that naturally settle without us shaking the jar.
The small rocks in the jar that drop to the bottom immediately…they’re easy to identify. They are the immediate disturbances in our life that do the most damage, cause the most noise in our minds as we shake the jar…but are also the quickest to settle once we stop giving them our energy, stop turning them over. Things like this are the latest argument with your buddy, your wife, the mini-road rage that happened on the way to work, the business deal that just tanked or the parking ticket you just got. Without us shaking the jar, they stay at the bottom.
The second layer is the sand and heavy grit…it’s the running problems in your life like broken or strained relationships, a job that you hate, a situation that can’t be resolved easily or that is not within your control. Some of these things are heavy, some are less heavy, but they settle quickly if we let them.
The last layer is the fine silt that takes time to settle…it’s always there, always distorting the vision of the water…always just altering the taste enough that you know it’s not pure…but you’re not willing to wait for it to settle. It’s like a program always running in the back of your mind that you cannot get to stop. It’s the fear, the ‘am I worthy’ or “do I have what it takes”….it’s the broken heart or the heart that will not heal, it’s fear, or unworthiness. It always seems to hang in the water…and we never let things settle long enough for these types of things to drift to the bottom.
The problem in life is that we never stop shaking the jar, never give it a chance to take time and intentionally let things settle. We are always taking so much in, so much new dirt and debris through bad interactions, the songs we are listening to, the arguments with spouses, messages in movies, the news, THE ELECTION…and the water is turned over and over…the rocks and sand falling from one side to the next…it’s constantly turned over, constantly agitated.
It is rare that I see with complete clarity that should be normal to us. What would life be like if you could see completely clear of any fear? What would life look like if you could walk through it without regrets or fear of the future? What would like look like if we were free from the past hurts?
In your mind, go back to the river you were standing in and look at the water. If He can settle this giant body of water that is before you that is constantly moving and changing, he can help you with your little mason jar. It’s just a matter if you will take the time and if you will let him.
Invite Him into your quiet moments and be still. You’ll be surprised by what will settle out of the cloudy mind.