Be a “Running Brook”

I would rather have those who follow me drink

from a running brook than from a stagnant pool.

Howard Hendricks


This comment was made by Howard Hendricks in one of his messages at Glen Eyrie.  He related that he first heard this when he had asked one of his professors why he was spending such a long time studying at night.  The professor replied with the above statement, using it in a entirely secular context.  It is a truth, however, that has not only a secular application, but spiritual as well  A running brook is a picture of health.  It entices us to drink and be satisfied.  It has continual access to the source of the water.  It quenches our thirst.  A stagnant pool is not only unattractive to look at, it is unhealthy from which to drink.  Life will not be sustained by drinking from it, on the contrary, it may induce disease.  When we think of our spiritual lives, we need to ask ourselves.  “Are our spiritual lives more similar to a running brook or to a stagnant pool?”

The scriptures do not point to a picture of stagnation.  They do not depict a level of spiritual attainment from which we have no further progression.  In the Old Testament we are instructed to “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.” (Isaiah 54:2)  In Philippians 3:12, Paul states “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”  When Paul stated “Follow me, as I follow Christ,” he was conscious of the need to be a running brook, and for those who followed him to be a running brook as well, ever ready to dispense new treasure from the Source of their lives, which was Christ.  We also see an example of the need for constant change and growth in the life of the Thessalonians.   In I Thessalonians 4, Paul was not satisfied with the fact that they were living to please God.  They were asked and urged to do so more and more! (I Thessalonians 4:1-2)  “Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.  Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”  Paul was also not satisfied with the fact that they had been taught by God to love each other, and that they loved all the brothers throughout Macedonia!  (What a blessing it would be to have any church like that today!)  Instead, Paul writes “Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” (I Thessalonians 4:9-10)  In John 7:38, our Lord referred to our lives as channels of “streams of living water.”  As these streams,  (representing the Holy Spirit, John 7:39) flow from our lives to nourish and refresh those who follow; do they provide an unpolluted daily freshness of the Spirit, or has the stream become slowed, stale and close to stagnation?

In his book “As Iron Sharpens Iron,” Howard Hendricks points out that the Christian life is a growth process.

“Even Jesus “grew,” we are told, in four areas: in “wisdom,” the intellectual component; in “stature,” the physical component; in “favor with God,” the spiritual component; and in “favor with men,” the social and emotional component (Luke 2:52).  By growing in these various ways, He demonstrated that life is developmental.  We are meant to mature, to increase our God-given capacities-all of them, not just the spiritual ones.”   (page 121)

There is no doubt that all components of our lives affect others, as described above.   For purposes of illustration, however, I will focus on the spiritual realm in which we need to be a running brook rather than a stagnant pool.  Since Christ is the center of our lives, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our growth in Him and likeness to Him is the most important aspect of our lives.  Do we rest in Him more this year than last?  Are we listening more closely to Him this month than last?  Is our walk with Him closer than last week?  Are we waiting on Him more completely today than yesterday?  Are we spending more time beholding Him as our life progresses?  “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (II Corinthians 3:18)  To be a running brook or to use our Lord’s words, “streams of living water,” we must be in constant contact with the Source of Life.

If I am to be a running brook, then, my life must be that which is described in Proverbs 2:1-5.  “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”  Are we continuing to store up His commands?  Do we treasure them?  Do we seek them?  Are we hungering for a deeper knowledge of our LORD that causes us to call out for understanding?  If so, then we can be assured that our lives are running  brooks from which others may safely drink from His spring of living water.


In Christ,

Richard Spann

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