Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fountain of Life and Justice

"Look back therefore, rise to the heights, go to that place where once God hath spoken, and there thou wilt find the fountain of justice, where is the fountain of life. 'For with thee is the fountain of life' [Psalm 36:9]." - St Augustine

I love that St. Augustine says here that the fountain of life is found at the fountain of justice, which is found with God. That is very full of hope, when you really consider it. I look to God as the only true giver of justice and life - and he gives both perfectly and fully.

I've been thinking about this quote a lot this week, because it is used in a book by Elisabeth Elliott that Mom and I have been reading together on our road trip to Florida...

We drove to St. Augustine, FL, on Saturday. For all the times we've come to Florida, I've never visited "the oldest city in America." So, we did this time. We had an amazing dinner at The Columbia, an absolutely beautiful (and romantic!) Spanish restaurant in historic downtown. The next day, we did a trolley tour, bought some souvenirs, admired the peacocks, and visited the legendary Fountain of Youth, which Ponce de Leon is said to have discovered. It was rather anticlimactic, as the "Fountain" was merely a fresh water spring enclosed in a hut, which we drank from in little plastic cups. Not that I really thought it was magical, but I thought they'd at least try to make the experience more magical. At any rate, I decided I'd much rather drink from the Fountain of Life and Justice, than be forever young.

We went on down to Jupiter after that... which has been different, strange, and a bit sad, since it's the first time we've been here since Grandpa Jack passed away in October. But we know he drank from the Fountain of Life and Justice, so we choose to live fully and joyfully. We are staying in a hotel by the bridge, and spend most of our time on the beach, soaking in the sun. When we're not on the beach, we're eating the best seafood ever! We realized that we've been coming here so often (and it's Mom's hometown) that we can comfortably and confidently do things that the locals do - hang out at Dubois Park, eat at the Dune Dog, and wear our bathing suits everywhere. But since we don't live here, we can also have fun doing things that tourists do! We went on a boat tour around Jupiter Island, visited Palm Beach Gardens, and had conch fritters and pina coladas on the boat dock at the Rustic Inn Crab House. Our hotel is pet-friendly, so we've met a lot of really cute dogs here... and apparently it's the beginning of spring training in the baseball world, so we're surrounded by plenty of St. Louis Cardinals fans!

Tuesday we went down to Fort Lauderdale to visit the Perrys... our dear friends whom I've known my whole life and who have always lived out loving ministry in a very authentic way. We had a charming tea party of M&M cookies and tea (Sprite, for the kids), and I got to be the honorary "auntie" to Rachel and Linda's kids - seven little ones, and counting! A few hours at the Perry house is refreshing and restorative to the soul. I really believe the Fountain of Life and Justice flows freely and generously there.

That evening, my wheelchair hit its 1700 mile marker. When it happened, I was talking to a friend from Indiana who had just attended the funeral of a boy that was in our youth program. Such a tragic story, full of so much in-justice and un-life. It's hard to find joy and hope in those moments. Even in the midst of such a fun and memorable week, this has been a shadow over my heart, as I grieved for the families and wished I could be there to comfort and offer ...something. But what could I say or do?

Remember that book I mentioned earlier, that Mom and I were reading? The one with the cool St. Augustine quote? Well, the title of the book is, "Trusting God in a Twisted World." She talks a lot about death and other things that cause us to ask God "Why?". Really good thoughts and reflections, but I just keep coming back to that St. Augustine quote... and there's a fountain right outside of our hotel that brings it to mind too. Fountains are refreshing springs that never run dry, never get tired, never stop giving. And when I find myself again and again faced with tragedies in this world that is so twisted by injustice and the curse of death, the only thing I can do is trust the Lord, and run back to that Fountain that sustains me. And he is my joy, my life, my strength forever.