Beaten Against A Rock & Washed By The Water

rushing-river

When I was a freshman in college, my Dad gave me a set of tapes from a retreat that he had been to and enjoyed. I hadn’t been able to attend the retreat, but I knew most of the speakers and so listening to the tapes was the next best thing to actually being there. I listened to those cassettes over and over until they screeched and whined from overuse.

On those cassettes, one of the speakers shared something that he’d once heard but never been able to verify. And though my research hasn’t been able to prove it true or false, the idea impacted me so strongly that I wanted to share it with you.

Most of us are familiar with Matthew 9:17 which says, “And who would use old wineskins to store new wine? For the old skins would burst with the pressure, and the wine would be spilled and the skins ruined. Only new wineskins are used to store new wine. That way both are preserved.”

Honestly, when most of us hear about the old wineskins we imagine them being discarded and then focus our attention on the new wine and the new wineskins. But what about those old wineskins?

The problem with the old skin is that the sediments in the wine have settled into the pores of the wineskin. The skin itself hasn’t done anything wrong; it’s just doing its job. But the sediment naturally builds up over time and eventually, if new wine is put into it, the new sediment presses into the old sediment and the pressure causes the old skins to pop. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

It has been said that there is a recipe—a procedure—for renewing old wineskins. A person with an experienced eye can examine the skin and tell when the sediment is building up. He then takes the wineskin and washes it in running water to soften the sediment. Then, to dislodge the sediment, he beats the skin against a rock. Then, he washes it in the water again to rinse away the broken up sediment.

I’m thirty one years old. I’ve been walking with God for a long time now. The sediment of life—the grime in me and around me—builds up and sometimes, I just need to be renewed.

I’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m a sinner and that I make mistakes. In fact, I promise that I’m my own worst critic. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for one thing or the other. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have done this. I should’ve spent more time with this person and prayed more for that person. I’m spending my time going from one extreme to the other from hiding from my faults to punishing myself for them.  Recently, I found myself throwing my hands up in the air saying, “God, something has to give!” He responded by reminding me of this story of the wineskins.

Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as  radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

You know, the wineskin doesn’t work very hard. All it does is sit where it is laid and hold the wine. It doesn’t labor or strive. So, why is it that I feel that I have to labor and strive to impress God and be good enough for Him?

I love this scripture from Ephesians. Christ loved me enough to give Himself up for me. He did the work for me and now, He cleanses me so that one day, I will be holy and blameless. And happily, there’s nowhere in that scripture that says that I have to do a single thing in order for Jesus to renew me and make me clean. All I have to do is lie still while He washes me with the water of the Word. Sometimes, I’ll be beaten against the rock, but even then, I’m in His hands. And when the beating is over, He’ll soothe me with the water again. And all I have to do is let Him.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. This is a wonderful post, and something many people seem to go through. It is encouraging to know that we can be renewed, if we just let God do His thing…

  2. That analogy is amazing.
    Sometimes I do feel like circumstances are beating at me. God is just renewing me. Very comforting. Thanks.

  3. Being beaten against the rocks is no fun. Believe it or not, I say this from experience. I know, you thought I was perfect. You’re mostly right. ;o) But God uses it to make me better. Good from bad. It works.

  4. I agree with Helen. I love the analogy. Nice post, Sarah.

  5. Excellent thoughts and analogy. Of course who couldn’t love an analogy that employs both booze and violence. :)

    Thanks for sharing your blog. I will definitely be back… Whether that’s good or bad, I’ll let you decide.

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