I believe he told me that Leon Uris’s book The Haj is his favorite contemporary novel, but I’m not sure, so I won’t name the person, who by the way, is very close to me. I am now reading the book, and, yesterday I spent some time perusing maps that cover four pages near the front of the novel. As I did so, I noticed on the page emphasizing the West Bank, that striking right down the middle of Israel is the Jordan River. At the northern end of the river is the Sea of Galilee, and at the bottom of the map is the Dead Sea.
As I perused these maps, I recalled a vivid illustration I heard many years ago concerning these waters. I’d like to share it with you today, but because I can’t at all remember where I initially heard it, I am not able to give credit to the person who first wrote or spoke this splendid analogy.
Today, should you have the opportunity to walk through the land where was the showcase for the earthly ministry of Jesus, you would see two dominant bodies of water. The first, called the Sea of Galilee, is a lively place, and although I have not had the blessing to be there, I’m sure you would find trees and fishers along its banks. Picnic cloths are spread, and the happy yelps of frolicking children punch through the air of a languid afternoon. The water is blue and fresh and boiling with fish. Boats ply the waters.
Turn your direction southward, and only a short distance away you will come to the Dead Sea. It is a decent name for such a place. It is the correct name, for within its limits exists no life. No fish swim its waters, no trees line its shores, no birds flock, no picnics are spread, no children laugh nearby. For within the sea is death and decay.
Both seas are fed by the vibrant Jordan River. What then, you ask, is the source of such difference? This unmistakable disparity is a reflection of the habits of the two seas, and therein lies our profound lesson. The sparkling, lively Sea of Galilee is a giving sea. No water is hoarded within its banks, nor dammed so that its stream is restricted. Freely, the water flows—both at intake and outlet–thus joy is generated and life is sustained. The Dead one, though, is grasping, hoarding and stingy. Its fists are tight, not allowing the propagation of life. It is a Dead Sea.
And such is true with us. When we give of ourselves—our time, energy, talents, worship and our money, we thrive. When we restrain ourselves, we die.
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together, and running over shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38
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