The Christian life is likened to a river in my mind. A river will usually have a larger body of water pouring into the river. This larger body of water is vast, experienced, and is teeming with life. The river is poured into, and therefore can pour into smaller tributaries, creeks, ponds, and other smaller bodies of water. However, when the river is only being poured into it can become stagnant and flooded. Flood waters kill the life that is living inside the river as well as what is growing on the banks. Stagnant waters become infested with mosquitoes, algae, and other unnecessary things. When the river is only flowing out, it becomes a dry wasteland that is quickly emptied out until the next thunderstorm comes and saturates it again. Also, if the river is only pouring out it will develop mud pits…
Anne Sullivan has quickly become one of the people who inspire me to be a disciple maker. Not because of her deep commitment to making disciples, but because of her tenacity to never give up on a human.
Anne Sullivan began her teaching career at the age of 21. If you don’t already know, she was the woman who taught Helen Keller, who was both deaf and blind, how to read braille and communicate with sign language. Helen Keller later went on to become a world redound writer, orator (with the help of Anne), poet, and songwriter. Without Anne’s support and her act of persistence, we would not have the beautiful writings of Keller today.
I think much deeper about Keller than that, though. I think of the years she spent in what she called the “phantom” stage of life, where there was surrounded by complete nothingness to her life. No thoughts, no will or intellect. She described herself as having “no power of thought” for the first 5 years of her life. Could you imagine? Just merely existing. Or maybe you have. Maybe you can empathize with Keller, spiritually? Maybe you’re at a place in your spiritual walk with the Lord that you are merely existing.
Then, along comes this genius woman. A teacher… She and her determination taught the wild girl how to communicate. When Anne first taught Helen about “water”, she would spell the word out on her hand and douse her with it! Anne Sullivan walked through life with Helen for many many years. They had an inseparable bond…
I want to be a disciple maker with the tenacity and determination of Anne Sullivan. She may not have taught Helen Keller about the Lord (I have not seen any record of it), but her unwillingness to give up on one person is what I desire. I want to have a healthy balanced river of a bigger body of water, like Anne, pouring into my life (older, wiser woman), and Helen pouring into the lives of all those she touched. I want to pour into young women with such purpose, intentionality, and rawness. It’s time to do an inventory of my river. What’s pouring into it? What’s it pouring into?
“When the sun of consciousness first shone upon me, behold a miracle! The stock of my young life that had perished, now steeped in the waters of knowledge, grew again, budded again, was sweet again with the blossoms of childhood. Down in the depths of my being I cried, ‘It is good to be alive!’ I held out two trembling hands to life, and in vain would silence impose dumbness upon me henceforth.” -Helen Keller