IKEA, Water Filters, and the Abundance of Life
This morning I am sitting at the dining room table in a real-life dining chair for the first time in four months, drinking a lukewarm cup of coffee and eating reheated frittata. It’s 22 degrees outside and I’m freezing cold sitting by the window, but a few daffodils are bravely poking their heads out and our fig tree is blooming. I’m tentative at my keyboard, because it’s been a while since I wrote about deep things of the heart, and an especially long time since I did it for other people to read. I’m rusty, but awakened. Ah, the tensions of early spring.
I’ve been thinking about our Brita water filter this week. When we bought the house, we were excited that we wouldn’t need to replace the kitchen sink. While I dreamt of an apron-front porcelain farmhouse sink, the reality has been that the kitchen sink we inherited is nice and big and deep and totally sufficient for our needs. With so many other rooms and appliances and furniture pieces needing total replacement, we accepted the kitchen sink as it was. Our favorite aesthetic? No. Functioning? Yes. Good enough? Yes…
However, over the course of the last few months, we started noticing that the filtered water was coming out at a slower and slower pace. Eventually, the stream was maddeningly weak. After countless mental memos, I finally ordered a new system last week and immediately got to work removing the broken Brita.
As I unscrewed the filter and pulled it off the end of the faucet, I let out an audible gasp. There were so many tiny flakes of residue in the connecting joint that I could barely see the filtering screen beneath it. No wonder the stream was so weak—it wasn’t even getting to the actual filtration system. I let water pour out of the faucet, looking for some indication that this residue was coming from the water itself. Nothing was visible. Then, out of curiosity, I stuck my finger inside the faucet. Immediately, I felt the source of the problem. The inside of the faucet was rough and bumpy, and when I pulled my finger back out, tiny pieces of build-up and residue covered my finger and sprinkled the sink. It was the faucet after all. While the filtration system was working overtime to provide sufficient drinking water, the problem of the weak water flow was caused by all the build-up, residue, and corrosion in the faucet— not by a deficiency in the purification system. So much for “good enough”.
The issue was with the delivery vessel. And even though I replaced the filter a week ago, the stream is already weak again.
Disappointment. Disobedience. Resentment. Resistance. Pressures. Pain. They build up on the inside of us. Sometimes we perpetrate them, sometimes we’re victimized by them. Sometimes we make small decisions or massive ones, but they result in the same residue in our hearts. The Water Source continues to flow, and the purification will never be removed, but our outpouring can be weakened significantly when we let build-up constrict our hearts.
That’s why sitting in a dining room chair matters this morning.. We bought this house because we knew the Lord was calling us to host not only guests, but host His presence. To gather with others around the table, and around His throne through praise and worship. We felt the call in November 2017, almost a year to the day before we’d move in to the house. But we didn’t make any moves toward that call. We let disappointments, distractions, resentments, and just regular rhythms of life dictate our time and priorities, rather than the call of the One who loves us most. The Lord met me in such a powerful way this weekend, rushing through my heart, mind, and spirit like a mighty river, taking all the residue of disobedience, pain, disappointment, and disbelief with Him. My outpouring had become weak, because the build-up was obstructing fullness of life.
So…we bought dining room chairs. We recommitted time and thought-space to the first invitation that came with owning a home. And I already feel the flow of His abundant life returning to my veins.
“Since these virtues are already planted deep within, and you possess them in abundant supply, they will keep you from being inactive or fruitless in your pursuit of knowing Jesus Christ more intimately. But if anyone lacks these things, he is blind, constantly closing his eyes to the mysteries of our faith, and forgetting his innocence—for his past sins have been washed away.” 2 Peter 1:8-9
The abundance of Life, the flowing River of goodness and godliness is already planted deep within us through Holy Spirit. But we can choose to close our eyes to Him. We can forget our permanent innocence and washing away of our sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus. We can significantly hinder the flow of Holy Spirit in our lives when we let the residue of sin and disappointment build up in our lives.
In the same way that we can allow build-up, we can also allow breakdown. We can give permission to the Lord to send a cleansing agent through our veins, breaking down what blocks the steady stream of pure life from pouring out through us. He can rinse the disappointments, and He has already washed your sins away. No more build-up, no more pressure from the blockage. And just as you will experience pure life flowing through your veins, you’ll also be empowered to pour a glass of fresh water for those around you.
And sometimes (just sometimes), the obedience of the breakdown might involve a shopping trip to IKEA. (And the promise of a new, apron-front porcelain farmhouse sink :) )