A VAP and the Flow of the Spirit

November 22, 2013

Two weeks ago, I had a Vein Access Port (VAP) surgically installed just below my left front shoulder. Its purpose is to provide reliable access to a central vein for the infusion of chemotherapy. It is imbedded completely under the skin, 11.22.13 VAP imageminimizing infection possibilities and making very efficient use of a durable “drum” pierced by the IV needle every day. And it saves those veins in the arms and hands, which are not always the most comfortable sites for such an intrusion.

You can imagine how important it is to keep my VAP channel clear. At the end of each drug infusion, the VAP is flushed with saline and a bit of Heparin (a blood thinner) to prevent clotting and future problems. A clogged VAP prevents the proper exchange of fluids necessary to get me well: blood draws for testing as well as intravenous infusion of various drugs.

Once again, my imagination carries me to the sort of infusion that is very much a part of the Christian life: the inflow and outflow of the Spirit of God.

First, the Inflow: The God of the Universe dwells in and enjoys the beauty and bounty of all that he has created. He resides in eternal and unlimited grace and power, blessing and provision. God has never needed anything: he has always had enough time (eternity), knowledge (omniscience), power (omnipotence), and self-sustenance (provision) to get along. I love how Dallas Willard described him: “God leads a very interesting life, full of joy.  The abundance of his love and generosity is inseparable from his infinite joy. . . . All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in fullness!” [Divine Conspiracy, 62f, emphasis added]

This joy and beauty and the experience of “heaven” simply cannot stay there—it overflows into our experience! God cannot contain himself! God’s limitless resources (including love and comfort—don’t I know!) cannot be hoarded in a confined space, though they are visible and operational in heaven for sure. But they also spill over into all creation, flowing through Jesus Christ to and into each one of us. “God’s goodness and generosity is lavished upon us, whom he loves!” (Eph 1:6f). This is the inflow of the Holy Spirit: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

In fact, God could paralyze us with the sheer force and power of his bounty, so in wisdom and understanding he dispenses his grace in doses we can handle. This is God’s spiritual VAP in our life, the conduit by which God continually drips his infinite resources into our lives, more than enough for this day and completely adequate for the challenges that face us.

Second, the Outflow:  From the beginning of humanity’s history with God, God expected the blessings he lavished upon us would overflow into the lives of others. This is why it is so critical for us to recognize the abundance of God’s provision! God gives us more than we need in order that it will overflow out of our personal space. This is no mere drip or leak of heavenly blessing, although I think sometimes that is all we ask for from God, just a trickle of his mercy. This very limited view of what God can do is often enough to stop the flow of the Spirit’s gifts and power. We can also clog the lines, so to speak, by hoarding the blessing and failing to see its applicability beyond our own narcissistic sphere. Israel struggled to live into God’s vision given to Abraham, that they would “be blessed to be a blessing” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Because we do clog the line with attitudes inconsistent with the reality of God’s spiritual blessing, we need a flushing out through confession and a declaration of God’s forgiveness. Each time I finish a chemo treatment, the nurse sends that saline and Heperin into my VAP to clean it out and get it ready for the next time. And so it is in the Christian life, as we are used by God to dispense his love and care to others, we must also submit to his cleansing, keeping the channels open by avoiding a puny faith or hoarding instinct. In the life of the church, we do well to remember this important element of our worship.

Today I am rejoicing that, despite my growing fatigue and need to sleep a lot, there is still enough blessing here to pass along to nurses, fellow patients, companions along the path I am walking today! I hope that you too might discover the vast reservoir available to you, and that you would have the courage and faith to welcome more than a mere trickle of God’s infinite blessing, so that you have plenty to share.

 

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One Response to “A VAP and the Flow of the Spirit”

  1. emd5542 Says:

    The Great Commission comes quickly to mind. Absent your diagnosis I have no doubt the nuggets from the Lord that you continue to flesh out would still come through your Bringing the Word to Life posts. I’m loving your daily-or-so pieces of wisdom garnered from current experience and compelled by your relationship with the Lord and desire that all know and worship Him, then faithfully serve. Amen, revmary.

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