A Drip or a Splash?

by Lois Tverberg

Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. Deuteronomy 32:2

A fascinating rabbinic story points out how studying God’s word is like water:

One day a a great rabbi of around Jesus’ time, Rabbi Akiva, came across a stone by a river that had been greatly worn away by a slow drip of water falling on it over the centuries.

He remarked, “What has hollowed this stone? Is it not a small drop of water falling on it day after day? If soft water can wear away hard stone, how much more should the words of the Scriptures, which are like iron, carve their way into my heart, which is flesh and blood? (1)

It is interesting to note that it was not one drip of water, but the constant force, drip after drip, year after year, that had a great effect. We often talk about God’s Spirit being “poured out,” imagining it gushing as a great river. But here, the powerful work in our lives is done by the impact of a single drip, as we let it change us over time. The process is very gradual, and not overnight.

Also, often Christians think a big event like a powerful speaker or weekend conference will change peoples’ lives. But most of the time, God’s Spirit tends not to work through big “splashes.” Instead, through the slow drip of study and prayer, day after day, year after year, he shapes into what he wants us to be.

(1) From Avot de Rabbi Natan, as quoted by J. Telushkin in The Book of Jewish Values, Copyright 2000, Bell Tower, New York, p.1