In case you’re keeping tabs on my acting career, early next week I’m heading out with part of my creative team to Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, to shoot a short film. I’m looking forward to being (or, if the cause should merit, not to being) in this hamlet, where we’ll be shooting on one of the largest springs in the entire state.
Boiling Springs got its name from a naturally occurring artesian aquifer that emerges right in the center of town and which serves as the source of a waterway that winds through the Cumberland Valley. The aquifer draws water from a huge cavern 1,800 feet below the surface, the very heart of the earth. The tremendous pressure created in that underground cavern causes the water to bubble up to the surface, spilling out 22 million gallons of pure water every day, sustaining people, animals, plants, and more – and some of the best fly-fishing in the world. The water brings life wherever it goes.
It got me to thinking: what if someone were to steal in there in the dead of the night and hook up a source of pollution, maybe a sewer line, to the underground cavern? (My imagination too often tends toward super-villainy of the James Bond variety.) That polluted water would come gushing out, and everything it touched would be negatively affected by it. All the people, the animals, the life – all of that would get polluted as well. Everything would shrivel up and die because of the toxic water flowing from the source.
Proverbs 4:23 talks about how your heart is like that deep source of water: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. God is pretty serious when He says that. He’s speaking of watching continuously over something extremely valuable. Think about it: we protect our cars and property from theft and damage, our bodies from sickness or injury, our creative ideas from undue influence, our business and financial interests from failure, even our borders from terrorist attacks. And here God says, “That’s all well and good, but your heart is even more important, and you’re responsible for it, you’re the one who needs to take extra security measures.”
You have to guard your heart above anything else you have, because it affects everything you do. It’s your life’s own aquifer. It’s the source, the wellspring of everything you do and say and are. Jesus even went so far to say, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.” (Matt.12:34b-35) What is in your heart, the center of who you are, ultimately ends up determining the actions you take, the words you say, the emotions you have, the art you create – the kind of life you’re going to live.
When it comes down to it, the primary cause of all the brokenness we see around us in this world isn’t economics, politics, social pressures, or other external things. The fact is that more individual loss and societal ruin has been caused by people failing to protect their hearts from pollution – anger, pride, lust, shame, offenses, fear, unforgiveness, and more – than all those other external areas combined.
It’s like the Enemy of your soul, a super-villain in his own right, found a way to get that pollution in there. And the problem is that as time goes on, your heart begins to leak, spilling pollution into all the things you say and do, and out over yourself and everyone around you. So everybody just ends up getting slimed, becoming angrier, less tolerant, more impatient. And that just spreads the pollution even further.
So what if you had to drink from the river of your heart? What if somebody else did, perhaps even somebody you love? Would it be like drinking from a polluted stream and making everyone around you do the same?
Take a look at your heart, and I’ll take a look at mine. It requires a lot of honesty and courage, but you can tell plenty about yourself by what comes spilling out. If what is flowing out is polluted – in your art, your business dealings, your relationships – it’s time for a clean-up. When the source is clean, what flows from it is clean too, and that frees you to begin bringing life to yourself and everything around you.
All my best,
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