25 Mar

* I wrote this a couple of months back but never shared. Since the time of writing, our cat has passed on. Thank you, Jack, for eighteen years of faithful love. Thank you for letting my little children read to you, for stalking garden critters, and for gifting us a mouse your very last week of life. You have lived to see all three of our dogs. You were loved and you will be missed, especially by Miss Marley. [Loss just plain stinks, you guys!]

Shaking my head, I yelled over to my husband. “Just wait! You’ve got to see this!” 

Our furry feline, Jack, roams the great outdoors as his kingdom. For the first year of his life, he slept in the warm straw of the chicken coop while prowling for chipmunks during the day. When he graduated from all the clucking ladies, I worried about our cold winters and provided a warm hooded cat bed in the garage. Jack walked in—and out—and never returned. Instead, I found him in an old box beside the lawn mower. I could take a hint. Moving the box near his food and water, I insisted on a few warm fleece blankets inside. He eventually consented. 

Now, eighteen years later, Jack is an older cat. Over the past few years, I have given him a warm saucer of milk at 5:30 every morning. If I forget to go out early enough for his taste, I’ll often find him drinking water from a puddle my SUV tires make on the driveway’s edge. [Yep, I obviously have a knack for backing out, and apparently Jack is none too patient.]

But this particular morning, I was engrossed in my morning time with the Lord and didn’t go outside. It wasn’t even cold, anyway. Jack could wait for an hour or so. Finally able to give him his fresh water and warmed milk, I noticed him meowing on the side of the driveway—right by his puddle. 

“What do you want, Jack? Come on over. Look what I have. Kitty! Kitty!” He ignored me and kept meowing. I nosily set the food down, hoping he would hear his meal. Jack continued to complain. 

Confident he couldn’t understand that I had placed fresh provisions by his box, I scooped him up and carried him to the feast. Sniffing first the water and then the milk, he brushed past my feet and stoically returned to the dried-up puddle, staring at the water that wasn’t there. 

Then it dawned on me. Jack was upset that his puddle had dried up. He preferred puddle water over the freshwater I had just poured for him. 

My cat was not the only one who passed up what he was given. I often need to remind myself that I have fresh springs of living water inside of me in the life of Jesus Christ. In Him, I have a renewable, continuous source. 

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:38:39 

On this side of the cross, believers are filled with the Spirit. For us, it is both past and present tense. Past tense—Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ has been glorified. And all of that happened to us, too. Present tense—What’s His is presently ours. We now have personal access to all spiritual things of the Lord! Why? Because we are in the Spirit, always and forever. 

But out of habit, do we run to the lesser things of the flesh over the freshwater of the Spirit? I know I can and do.

“Flesh” refers to relying solely on your own resources to navigate life, resolve challenges, shield yourself from hurt (such as embarrassment or rejection), and fulfill core needs like love, acceptance, value, identity, security, and being heard and understood.

At its very core, flesh is self-effort. Any form of self-protection, self-sufficiency, self-promotion, or self-advancement aimed at satisfying core needs while dodging pain is referred to in the Bible as “walking after/according to the flesh.” It’s not a part of you—you’re holy and righteous. Rather, it’s a way of living independently of the Spirit of God. 

Flesh is a controller. It loves to rule the roost. It’s a drama queen in control. It is like a rebel without a cause, fighting against the Spirit and giving God major side-eye (Galatians 5:19, Romans 8:6-8).

  • The flesh is a sneaky one. It looks all shiny and appealing. Positive flesh (workaholism, perfectionism, being morally upright, you name it) gets all the applause.
  • It thrives on self-effort for acceptance rather than the life of Christ dwelling within.
  • It’s a cunning puppeteer, holding you hostage to the past, emotions, habits, people, or addictions.
  • It’s a big-time rejector and a pro at pushing people away or making them ghost us.
  • It’s full of itself, never wrong, never sorry, and as stubborn as a mule.
  • It’s like, “Stay back, God and friends! No hugging allowed! No one’s taking the wheel of my life.” It has an intense fear of getting personal and close.
  • It’s all about keeping those pesky situations at bay.
  • Emotions? Shhh... let’s push those down. Or wait...let's share with everyone except for God. 
  • Failures and imperfections? Locked away in a vault.
  • Rejection? Not on the flesh’s watch!

But brace yourself—the flesh is on a collision course with self-destruction. John 6:63 assures us that flesh profits nothing. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. 

It’s like having a fountain of ice water in front of you on a scorching summer day and then, like Jack, drinking puddle water. It will fail. It’s even supposed to. And it’s a good thing when it does. Really. Eventually, the gritty mouth of flesh will convince you to give up on what will never satisfy. And when you taste the living water, you will never thirst again. 

Friends, may we both choose to rely on the inner strength of the Holy Spirit rather than struggling in our own efforts. Let’s welcome Father’s grace to be unto us every bit of life and godliness in whatever this day holds as we enjoy living from Christ’s refreshing, inexhaustible life. 

Oh, how much better than puddle water!



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