Monday, August 17, 2015

Thirsting For Living Water

Hey Friend,
It's good to be "back in the saddle" and writing again.  Actually, due to surgery, there's not much I can do but write while I'm on the disabled list.  In this post, I would like to take you back to Kiawah Island, SC (in my ambulatory days) and tell you the story of the Miracle at Beach Access # 17.
I was blessed to be able to tag along on my husband's trip to a business conference in Kiawah.  While he was getting ready for his early morning sessions, I would lace up my sneakers and walk out to the beach to catch God's breathtaking greeting to me each morning. 
This morning started out much like the others.  The tide was out and so there was a wide stretch of beach that was shared with the few other early birds like myself...a lone fisherman casting in the surf, a bicyclist getting in his early exercise, lone walkers clutching their precious coffee, and my photographer friend who came each morning because the truth is, no two sunrises are exactly alike.
This morning, Dale, the photographer, was just hanging out on the #17 boardwalk access to the beach. 
"You waiting for the perfect sunrise?" I cheerily inquired. 
"No, waiting for the turtle patrol to come back, " he responded.  "They are going to dig up this turtle nest that has passed its maturation date."
At that point, I was totally intrigued!  I was all in.  I walked the beach in front of the access point, pacing like a mother hen - back and forth - for about a half hour until the turtle patrol made its way to the nest they were going to dig up.
Every spring the loggerhead turtles lay their nests out of the tide's reach at the edge of the dunes.  Each nest contains approximately 120-130 eggs.  Thanks to years of training and close observation, the turtle patrol covers, protects, marks, and dates each nest according to its predicted maturation date (approx. 2 months) from the date of laying the nest. 
Because the mother turtles abandon their nests after laying them, it is up to the baby turtles, with their will to survive, to successfully emerge from the nest. 
Under 18-24 inches of sand, can you imagine 120 babies all vying for life and heading toward the light of day?
That's kind of how I feel some days.  Like a baby turtle, struggling toward the light, yet being weighed down by life's burdens - the sand, the broken eggs, the weight of other people all scrambling for the same exit.  What are the odds of survival??
My focus became more intense as I watched, Jim, 22 year veteran on the turtle patrol begin to carefully and slowly dig, with only his hand, down to the belly of the nest.  After multiple handfuls of sand, then came handfuls of broken eggs (evidence of survivors who had made it out of the nest).  Sadly, too, the handfuls revealed dead babies who had perhaps gotten trapped or stuck in the exodus frenzy. 
At that point I was vividly reminded of the Parable of the Lost Sheep.  In Luke, chapter 15, verses 1-7, Jesus tells the story of the lost sheep.  He tells of the good shepherd who has accounted for 99 of his 100 sheep.  Instead of being satisfied with 99%, the good shepherd goes searching for that one lost sheep and doesn't stop until He finds it.  When He finally finds it, He hoists the scared lamb on his shoulders and calls all his friends together to rejoice with Him that the lost sheep has been found. 

 With each painstaking handful of sand that came up, I found myself praying for life...praying for a survivor...praying for the lost sheep (turtle).  How gentle Jim was.  Much like Jesus' style he kept patiently digging and searching.  Time ticked away and hope began to grow dim.  Cracked eggs and dead turtles seemed to be the only remains. 
Then I saw bigger than the palm of my hand...flippers waving frantically in the air trying to swim...LIFE!!
This sole survivor of the nest had been buried alive, stuck and struggling to get out of the pit, trapped and weighed down. 
He needed a hand because he couldn't do it on his own.  He was lost, but now he was found.
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.  (Psalm 40 1-3)
The goose bumps flushed over my skin.  The first instinct of this small band of onlookers was to clap, high-5, and rejoice over this little life that was found.  In my mind, I named him Stuart Little after one of my literary underdog favorites in children's books. 
"You go, Stuart,"  I said under my breath.  Suddenly I had a sense of how the angels must feel when another sinner is saved and found.  Stuart being found, sinners being saved - they are both miracles.  And who says that God is not still in the business of making miracles happen???  With the rejoicing I experienced over Stuart, I got a wee glimpse of how much God must rejoice when I chose Jesus to be my Savior.  I worshipped and gave thanks that morning to the beautiful chorus of the waves methodically crashing upon the shore. 
Salvation, saving, and being found are a miraculous chorus that never stops playing. 

So Stuart had been found...what now?  Jim instructed us to make a little corridor  - kind of like cheerleaders on either side of a marathon finish line.  Our job was to keep the hungry sea birds from swooping down and getting him. 
"He needs to see and sense the water,"  Jim told us. 
I was a little unconvinced until Jim gently set Stuart down and sure enough he began heading for the water.  God had programmed in this little guy that life would be found if he simply headed toward the water.  Living Water...hmmm...where had I heard that before?
"Where's he headed to?" the photographer asked?
"Oh, he'll head out about 5 miles to a turtle feeding ground,"  Jim explained. 
"Gosh, if he has to go that far, he'll never make it," another voice chimed in.  "Why doesn't someone just take him out the 5 miles and drop him off to insure that he gets there?"
"It's all part of the process,"  Jim patiently replied. "He must learn, grow strong, and mature.  It's all part of God's plan."
Just to show you that God thinks of turtles are born with a little nourishment sac on their bellies.  They nurse off this sac during their 5 mile trek.  Once there, they will feed off seaweed and other nourishment God provides.  Isn't it just like God to pack his son's lunch for the journey that lies ahead!
Meanwhile Stuart was going just as fast as his flippers would take him - making a bee line for the water.  I felt God whispering in my ear again.
I was reminded of how in John 7 Jesus reminds us that He, Himself, is the source of Living Water.  He extends an invitation to all who thirst to come.
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." (John 7:37)
"He (Jesus) will guide them and lead them beside living water."  (said about Jesus in Isaiah 49:10).
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  (Matthew 5:6)
**Many times Jesus tells us that the satisfaction of spiritual thirst can only be found in Him.
water = life for Stuart the turtle
Living Water (Jesus) = life for you and for me
I didn't need a preacher talking to me during a sunrise beach service, God was doing an awesome job of just bringing it to me, full throttle, right then and there.
Jumping up and down, cheering Stuart on toward the surf, I saw why water is a very rich symbol in Jewish writings.  God even calls Himself "the spring of living water." in Jeremiah.
As I watched Stuart, never stopping, press on toward the water that was life to him, I thought of how David cried out to God in Psalm 61:
"Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." 

You know, Stuart and I are not too unlike each other.  We both earnestly yearn, seek, thirst, and pant in desperation for Living Water. 
Both of our tired, battle-weary souls needed the cleansing, calming, quenching, life-giving water that flows from the throne of God.  Our very lives depended upon it.  Others may not classify this as a miracle, but the "Tale of Stuart" is a modern day parable of how God provides for all of his creatures.  If He goes to such great lengths to save Stuart, how much more will he go to great lengths to secure the salvation of His children?
Stuart reminded me of the holy yearnings of the human soul.  
I know that my soul will not be entirely satiated until some point in the future when I am at home living with God.  In the meantime, He gives me the Holy Spirit and miracles like the "Tale of Stuart" to help quench my thirst for Him.
So thankful that Christ gave me a helping hand out of the pits I have found myself in.  Like I watched Stuart, may others look at my life and see, be in awe, and put their trust in God.
May my soul never stop thirsting after Him...
  Dear Heavenly Father,  I thank you for the miracle and the modern-day parable of Stuart the turtle.  Thank you that you have placed a desire in my heart and soul that will only be quenched by Your Living Water.  Let me not be satisfied with what this world offers, but let me continue to yearn and seek after You - where my true satisfaction can be found.  Thank you for loving me enough that you sent your Son to save me - to lift me out of the pit, the mud, and the mire.  Put a new song in my mouth that sings of Your glory.  Help me lead others to your life-giving, living water.  May my eyes be always open to Your miracles.  In Jesus' loving name I pray,  Amen.
Be blessed...How about you?  Has God shown you any miracles lately or have you been too busy to notice?
ps.  As we begin a new school year at Redeemer Christian School, we are trying to find sponsors for our current students - insuring that they will be covered for the upcoming year.  If we can do this, we then have the hope of adding new students who desperately want to come to school but have no  means to do so...
$10/month will keep one child in school for the upcoming year.  If you can't provide for one year, could you provide for half a year?  ($60) 3 months? ($30).
If so, send checks to:  Bev Rihtarchik (put RCS and your email in memo line).                           103 Silver Lining Lane
                                  Cary, NC  27513
or email me:
Here are some things current students have been saying about RCS. YOU have been a part of making this happen...Praise!!
Nisha:  "I never thought this would happen in my life...that I would have a chance to go to school. This school is full of love, joy, and peace."
Salman:  "My father is a poor person. He does not even earn enough to feed us so it was not possible for me to study in school.  This school has opened the door of blessings for us."
Fiza:  " I remember my first day at RCS.  I received books and a notebook free of cost.  This is the best gift ever for me, but the best gift of all for me was my own Bible.  I love RCS because I can pray here easily."
Sidra: "Thank all those who gave me my Bible.  I can read my Bible for myself and I even read it for my family in my home."
Rosaline: "Not only do I learn to read and write and formal education, but RCS has taught me how merciful is our Lord Jesus Christ.  I love singing worship songs in school."
All agreed that RCS is a safe and secure place, filled with love and compassion, a refuge from the reality that lies outside its doors. Thank you...