No matter how you look at it, when you turn the faucet on, the water runs through the pipes.
The water is different from the pipes. We are kept alive by the water. We get it through the pipes.
I’m sure that distinction (the by vs. the through) doesn’t feel important. But I have this theory that the brokenenss around you, your own sin, even the Fall of Mankind – are all linked to our inability to distinguish the through and the by.
Imagine a culture dying of thirst is suddenly introduced to water flooding their parched existence, flowing through pipes. Imagine how confusing it would be, how hard it would be – to not worship the pipes themselves as their deliverance; to not confuse the through with the by. Every single time they saw a pipe, they might run to it, expectant of water – even if it was connected to a dried up well.
And then there’s us. Dying and drowning in our longing and loneliness, for love, for acceptance, for approval, for significance, we seek a source that will quench our thirst. And we find it in Him. By His Spirit. He moves in power and might and He surrounds us with warmth and love and joy and peace through the perfect sunny day or that great connectivity with our spouse, or the joyful presence of our children or the promotion in our work.
He floods our thirsty souls with the living water by His Spirit through the pipes He has ordained.
But you and I are confused. We confuse the creatures, through whom God displays His image, with God Himself.
We become obsessively in love with the means because we think they are the thing we love, but they are not. They are a delivery mechanism of the only One we really adore.
Embrace your prayer as the through. Embrace your quiet time as the through. But never confuse them with the by or you will wake up to find you have become a works-based superstitious idolater, who has made God a vending machine and attributed to yourself the power of God. You will find yourself demanding and entitled, after all – you returned to the pipes so the water better flow. You forget that our God moves where He wills. He is the power we seek through the means He has prescribed.
When the mountains move at the utterance of your words, never be confused: they were moved by His power, by His might, and by His grace He chose to do it through your shaking voice.
God gives us goodness through things. He moves and changes hearts through determined means, but make no mistake: there is no power but God; there is no good but God.
When we speak, let us speak boldly, knowing that our words are the pipes. But let us speak humbly, knowing that He alone holds the power by which hearts are changed.
When we open His Word, let us dig deeply, knowing that our minds are the pipes through which revelation will flow. But let us dig desperately and dependently, knowing that unless His Spirit reveals we will be unable to understand.
And when we worship – let it be God Himself we seek and adore, not just the vehicles that transport His glory.