One of my favorite experiences while in Israel was floating in the Dead Sea. My tour group ladies all gathered in a circle, laughing in expectation of what we were about to do, held hands, laid back, and kicked one leg out towards the sky; pretending to be synchronized swimmers. It was a surreal moment for me. And the capture of the memory – which I have saved in black and white – gives a certain feel of the moment, which all black and white photos do.
Before we had the opportunity to float in the famous sea, our tour guide, Olga, gave specific instructions on what not to do. One of the instructions was to not drink the water. One gulp, and death was a serious possibility. The salinity is too high to ingest. She warned us that even a drop of the water in our mouths could cause vomiting, spitting, and an overwhelming need to get the taste out of our mouths. And she was right!
As we all floated, conversed, and enjoyed our time together, I accidentally splashed. A drop landed on my lip, and I immediately licked the area. The bitterness of the water was unlike anything I had ever tasted. And I immediately wanted it out of my mouth! Not just wanted, but overwhelmingly needed to get it out of my mouth!Unpleasant, nasty, repulsive, disgusting! I tried to spit as much as I could, but little relief came.
Recently, under my own warranted arrogance, I have been feeling the taste of bitterness in a different way. I normally like change; I normally welcome it with an open and positive expectation. But a specific change has had a reverse affect on me. I have felt uneasy, indifferent, and stubborn. I’ve prayed for God’s help in opening my eyes to my feelings, however, my justification behind my feelings remained. I think I almost wanted to feel this way. I continued to ask questions in private. “Why?” “Is this for good?” “Is this really how it’s suppose to be?”
“Why?” “Why?” “Why?”
Before I know it, bitterness, and an attitude had appeared. It hadn’t just settled in recently, but had settled in my heart unnoticed, for months.
The taste of bitterness had not only penetrated my tongue, but had manifested into my gut, into my mind, and into my heart. The diagnosis wasn’t good. And when I realized it had spread, I immediately tried to control it. I didn’t want it camping out under my moon and stars. I wanted it gone! But it was too late…I had no jurisdiction, now.
This is what bitterness does. We think we can control it, but we can’t. It’s sneaky and smart and is a joy sucker. We are finite creatures in need of an Infinite Creator. We are sheep in need of a Shepherd. And without Him, we relentlessly and incessantly try to control ourselves. He alone is our cure; Our Healer and our strength.
My advice is this: don’t selfishly try and dilute the bitterness within you. Instead, ask the One Who is the remedy! Don’t just ask private questions in believing you have the answers, but humbly ask the One Who has THE answer…Jesus.