My favorite lakes entertain big old trees that belly right up to the edge of the water. I love it when their branches hover and draw near for nourishment in a natural dance.
These lakes are not man-made; no, they’re thoughtful and the spacing between the tree trunks and the water is perfect. In the autumn, the leaves fall on the surface and create a beautiful, multicolored blanket. I imagine the tree is warming the lake for the winter ahead; the poet in me presuming the tree’s devotion and thankfulness.
I suppose man-made lakes can still be pretty and maybe even majestic, but God lakes are mysterious, profound and inexplicably true. The water in them tends to be deeper and darker because the hole in the ground is a mystery that’s not been seen. Perhaps the floor of it bears the very fingerprint of God.
I’m not an expert on lakes, but the man-made ones seem to always need maintenance and chemicals to look the way they do.
The God lakes we drink from.
A carpenter worked in a barn with his father. Together they labored in a cloud of sawdust, their fingers calloused and blistered. Blueprints were given to them to build stage flats for a theatrical production. It was a tedious job, as each flat was identical: four feet by eight feet, and a foot off the ground. The production itself was quite lavish, and so, its set was correspondingly large. The flats would eventually be laid out to create a mammoth, cross-shaped stage.
What better shape and size to display the story of Jesus?
Many weeks went by and the carpenter and his father were true to their task, completing their work on time according to the blueprints given them. Afterward, the flats were neatly stacked in the back of their barn until such time they'd be needed, which was just around the corner.
However, as many things of such magnitude go, there were delays. And then, even more delays. Pretty soon, it became obvious that just around the corner would never come.
Eventually, the flats began to collect dust in the back of carpenter’s barn. One day, the carpenter called to ask if someone would please come and get them. And so, the man in charge of the lavish (albeit stalled) production did just that. He moved the flats and stacked them one by one in the back of an old theater where he hoped to someday perform his play.
Years went by and the play for which the stage was intended, despite all of the man's best efforts and planning and blueprints, well, it never quite made it to the light.
Deep within that theater though, another kind of light crept in. Oddly enough, even without the play, some very needy people from all around the world found a place of warmth and hope. They were loved and served while the theater underwent renovations. Soon, some sections of it were finished and it became a place for them to call their own.
And then, one day, a very passionate Sudanese woman decided that she wanted to send clothing back to her country men and women, many of whom were trying to survive while nearly naked in the neighboring refugee camps of Chad. So she held a clothing drive at the theater. And the clothes came, indeed they came to overflowing: in bushels and bags and they started to fill most of the theater's basement in big piles until such time that they could be shipped overseas.
The man (the one who originally planned to have a play about Jesus) thought it would not be good for the clothes to be on a damp basement floor for very long, and since the theater itself seemed to always be in a state of construction and disarray, he wondered if he could find something -- anything really -- to get the bags off the ground.
Even a foot off the ground would be enough.
So he thought of the flats and he found them in the back of the theater, where they had been quietly stacked for many years, and he began to carefully lay them out, one by one, so that the clothes could be on something dry.
And right around that time, the man believed that a Carpenter and his Father were true to their task, completing it on time for another kind of production; a much less lavish one indeed, with a stage built according to a entirely different set of blueprints.
I suppose man-made projects can still be pretty and perhaps even majestic, but God projects are mysterious, profound and inexplicably true.
The God lakes we drink from.