Invisible Forces, Hidden Issues

Rain and snow fall on the Little Belt Mountains in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, ninety miles east of Helena, sixty miles south of Great Falls. Streams and creeks flow past the towns of Neihart and Monarch, past Camp Rotary and the Logging Creek Campground, on their way to the Missouri River. But most of the water seeps deep into the soil, draining into the water table known as the Madison Aquifer, where it becomes invisible.

The Madison is a huge reservoir of fresh water, lying underneath five U.S. states and three Canadian provinces. This hidden water is moving. It’s flowing. It’s active. It provides water for thousands of wells, springs, and streams, and becomes the sustainer of life for countless people, animals, plants, and trees. Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir dominate the hillsides, providing shelter for black bear, elk, and white-tailed deer.

The aquifer’s underground consists of layered limestone, which allows some of the water to trickle through until it finds its way to Giant Springs, outside the city of Great Falls. Once the water gets there, hydraulic pressure forces it out at a rate of more than 150 million gallons per day. Some studies indicate that it takes 26 years for the water to travel the 60 miles from the mountains to Giant Springs. Other data suggest that it might be closer to a 50-year journey before it emerges and forms the Roe River.

However, some of the water is trapped in the underground, where it remains far longer than two-and-a-half decades. Scientists have determined that some of the water has been in the underground for two or three thousand years . . . maybe longer. Instead of flowing out, it stays in the aquifer century after century, millennium after millennium.

The water that travels from the mountains and bursts forth at Giant Springs has a year-round, constant temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit. This might seem cold to people in warmer regions of the world, but considering the harsh, bitter conditions of a Montana winter, 54 degrees is quite warm. When outside temperatures get down to 50, 60, and 70 below zero, the water from the springs is more than 100 degrees warmer than the air temperature. On the other hand, during the summer months, when the outside temperature reaches to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the cool waters from the springs are rather refreshing.

Most of the water stays underground and doesn’t make the journey to Giant Springs. Instead, it combines with streams from the Black Hills, the Big Horn Mountains, and the wider drainage area. Eventually, most of it surfaces in Canada. But some of the water never escapes. It’s still trapped, still hidden, still invisible.

This underground water system is an allegory about what happens in peoples lives. There’s a lot going on inside of us, perhaps a whole lot more than most of us are willing to admit to ourselves or allow others to know about. Because of past, painful experiences, we force our thoughts and emotions underground, and they become an internal, invisible force. It may be hidden, but it’s moving. It’s active. In fact, sometimes what’s going on inside takes on a life of its own, until one day, it gushes out in destructive words or actions, and everybody says things like, “Wow. I never saw that coming.” Others are trapped in pain, decade after decade, while life, happiness, and opportunities pass them by. Either by choice or by circumstance, their issues never surface and are never resolved.

The Holy Spirit is ready to help with this inner world of invisible forces and hidden issues. He wants to liberate you. You don’t have to remain trapped, hidden, or invisible any longer. Its time for a new beginning.

In A Hurry and Running Late

usps-796059_1920As a newlywed attending a Christian college in Southern California, I was a driver for a private mail and parcel service. Every day, I was in posh high-rise office buildings and run-down strip malls, machine shops and Mom-and-Pop shops. By the time I worked there a year, I’d been in almost every post office in Orange County.

One day my boss asked me to come in early because we had a new corporate client in Newport Beach who requested an early pick-up and delivery. Before heading out, I checked my map. Traffic was heavy. I was in a hurry and running late.

do-not-enter-98935_1280When I got to the post office, I turned into the drive, only to discover that I was in a long, narrow, one-way exit lane with a big red sign announcing DO NOT ENTER. The situation demanded a fast decision. Do I back up into traffic and go around the block, looking for the entrance? Or do I step on the gas and zip into the parking lot before any one tries to exit? I pressed the pedal to the metal.

When I was almost out of the wrong-way lane, a car turned into the driveway. We both slammed on the brakes, barely avoiding a head-on collision. A bit shaken by the near-miss, I pulled up to the loading dock and put my mail onto a cart, but before I walked into the rear door of the post office, that same car sped around the building and screeched to a halt. Dressed in an expensive business suit, the driver got out and stomped towards me.

Instantly, Matthew 5:25 came to mind, “Make peace with your adversary while you’re still on your way.”

As the stranger approached, I walked up to him and said. “Sir, I owe you an apology. In a hurry, I drove into the exit. I was wrong, and would like to ask for your forgiveness.”

“Do you know who I am?” he demanded.

“No, sir. I just know that what I did was wrong. I nearly caused an accident, and I am sorry.”

“I am the postmaster,” his face a deep red by now. “I could ban you from every post office in the county. I could have the police ticket you for driving the wrong way. I could call your boss and have you fired.” When he paused, we stared nose to nose. “But tell you what. Because you admitted your wrongdoing without even knowing who I was, I will forgive you. Don’t let it happen again.”

I stood there stunned. If the Holy Spirit didn’t bring that verse to my mind at that instant, I would be in big trouble. If I let pride keep me from admitting my mistake, I might be unemployed by the end of the day.

It dawned on me that I really can trust the scripture when it says, “don’t worry about how to defend yourself, for the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say” Matthew 10:19-20. I had memorized those verses long before that morning, never realizing that I’d need to use them in a tight situation. Before driving away, I took a minute to thank the Lord for his Word and his Spirit.

After completing my route, I parked the van and took the keys to the office. While I filled out the time sheet, my boss walked in and said, “Hey, just wanted to let you know that the Newport Beach postmaster called to tell me he met you this morning.”

I froze.

“He said he was really impressed with you, and that you do good work. I Just wanted to pass that compliment on. Good job.”

Embarrassed, humbled, and relieved, I drove to the college. I was in a hurry and running late, barely getting there in time for class, but careful to obey every traffic sign.

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