The Fountain of Life

Gary Henry

“How precious is Your loving-kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light” (Psalm 36:7-9).

IN THE SCRIPTURES, “LIFE” IS THE WORD OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE THE GIFT THAT WE HAVE LOST AND CAN FIND AGAIN ONLY IN GOD. Underneath all our other longings, we long to “live.” Desiring much more than the dry bones of mere existence, we want to be keenly and joyously alive. Although our sins have kept from us the full measure of life that our Creator intended for us, they have not completely done away with our longings and aspirations. Even when our desire is less than it should be, there is still some residue of the will to live and not die.

In contrast to “life,” the word ““death” denotes separation, a breaking apart of things that were meant to be unified. The worst kind of death, obviously, is spiritual death, the condition of being estranged from God. But the shattering of our connection to God means that many other things have been broken as well. Each of us suffers from this brokenness in a somewhat different manner. One person is wracked by disturbing contradictions in his thinking. Another is torn apart by conflicting emotions. Yet another is pulled in opposing directions by a will that can’t make up its mind. The symptoms will vary from one person to the next, but all of us suffer the ill effects of conflict in important places. Even on our very best days, we find that we fail to balance all the various things that real life would harmonize.

To be frank, most of us would have to admit that the thing we live can hardly be called “life.” We plod through our days hardly touching the edges of what real life would be. Yet with every step, we are being called to pay more attention to God and taste a deeper life. We are being invited to “take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19 NIV). There is no good reason why our God can’t be the God whom David knew: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“If God be really what our faith assumes, we shall find him unifying our thinking, satisfying our sense of beauty or wonder, opening out to us an enlarging and enfranchising life” (William Adams Brown).