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The Gift of A Blue Spigot

A note from Brian – This month I’m posting an improved version of the story that started it all. Well, the story has only a few edits, but the reflection in the original post was pretty lame.

But I’m reposting the story for an additional reason – I’m launching this week a Blue Spigot Facebook page. (Yes, my personal FB page will still direct you to the blog). Please like and recommend both the blog and the FB page to your friends.

The Gift of a Blue Spigot

A summer vacation by the coast – what could be better? Our family of four spent a week at my mom’s cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains, nestled among the peaceful redwoods, with much cooler temperatures than we had at home.

Unfortunately, the heat that week was rising – between my son Ben and me. I was constantly correcting him, but he didn’t seem particularly grateful for my fatherly input.

Time to take a hike – me, not him. On Thursday, July 31, 1997, I left the cabin with a specific destination in mind: my favorite redwood grove.

It’s a great spot to pray, with the two-hundred-foot tabernacle of trees rising around you. But it also has a classroom feel; years before the outdoor education program set up a mini-amphitheater with redwood logs. Pray and learn – always a good combination when you’re meeting with God.

Class was in session, and I provided the lecture. For the better part of an hour, I alternated between pleading with God and arguing (in my mind) with Ben. I finally stopped talking, and began to listen and think – what did he need from his dad?

That was simple: it was time to let up on him.

Being a pre-teen – eleven years old at the time – was difficult enough. But I was acting like an overzealous referee, blowing the whistle on his every misstep and foul. Many times I watched basketball games and encouraged the refs to let ‘em play! Why couldn’t I do that at home?

Ironically, my congregational summer sermon series was about grace. God has been merciful and compassionate to us; as His people, we are called to dole out what we’ve been so generously given.

I was certainly dispensing something to Ben, but it didn’t smell like grace.

I asked God for his help. I had long since given up hope that I would be suddenly transformed into Mr. Rogers. But I did want some tangible assistance, and so I asked God for a helpful mental image, something that I could keep in mind when conflict was coming close.

Almost immediately the strangest image came into my head: a spigot.

You’ve used one many times. If you’re at a gathering and want a drink from the coffee pot or the iced-tea dispenser, you set down a cup and pull down on the spigot. The liquid flows until you flip it back up again.

I sensed that God was telling me to be like a spigot. An open spigot. Let the grace and mercy that has been poured out on me to flow freely through me – to Ben, to my wife Linda and our daughter Sara, as well as to anyone that crosses my daily path.

My spirit soared as I left the grove. I had an image. I had an answer!

Walking back to the cabin, I prayed repeatedly for the ability to remember the mental picture I had been given. Too often God provides a helpful word that we all-too-quickly forget.

I wasn't more than fifteen feet from the driveway entrance to the cabin – that’s a picture of it above – when I had an urge to look down and to my left. There in the ivy lay a spigot – a brand-new, blue plastic spigot. Incredible!

What did I do? I plucked it from the ivy, overwhelmed with awe, and overcome with emotion. For the next week I carried that spigot around in my pocket to remind myself of this powerful lesson.

Where is that spigot today? It’s mounted on a plaque that adorns my office wall, with I Timothy 1:14 printed below it in calligraphy: The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly.

Another one I purchased online hangs from the rearview mirror in my car. Learning to drive graciously is a work-in-progress for me.

The Blue Spigot has become a foundational image for me. I wish I could say it’s become natural and easy for me to keep the spigot of grace open and flowing, but to this day I have a strong tendency to control the flow.

How about Ben and Sara? Our lives are intimately connected. They both love God and actively serve him alongside their spouses. And we love living near our young grandchildren.

Let’s look back to that day. The gift of the blue spigot is not simply an inspiring story. And it can’t be explained away as a coincidence, or as wishful thinking on my part.

I didn’t find an old, discarded picnic jug with a dirty spigot. I found a brand-new spigot – something that I can confidently assert that none of you reading this have ever bought, nor have one lying around your house.

How did it get there? Had God prompted someone – not just anyone, but someone who designs and manufactures beverage containers and just happened to have supplies in the front seat of his car – to throw a spigot out the window at a precise moment along a winding forest road?

Or had it just miraculously appeared among the flourishing ivy?

I don’t know. But one thing matters: somehow it was placed there, and then I was prompted to look down as I was walking along a street with no sidewalks so I could see it and pick it up, an answer to my prayer to remember an image.

The Blue Spigot is a very small window into an overwhelming truth, a ray of everlasting hope in our confusing world:

  • God is active.

  • God listens to the prayers of his children.

  • God can arrange the details of our lives and can even drop powerful little reminders into our laps. Or at least into the ivy along the road.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:20 The Message)

Do you believe that?

Or do you find yourself quietly thinking to yourself … I want my own blue spigot! Will only your own experience convince you of these truths?

We say no, but that’s exactly how we treat the Bible, which is full of Blue Spigots – burning bushes and babies born to grandparents; daily manna and a picnic lunch for thousands; parted rivers and calmed seas; whales that serve as a chauffeur and water that becomes wine; eyes that can see and legs that can walk again.

May those stories – and mine – encourage your faith in our powerful God. He may indeed give you a powerful experience some day, but don’t wait for one before you’ll trust God with your life.

Blue Spigots are not starting guns to begin our walk of faith; they’re aid stations along the path to renew our sagging spirits.

But the gift of a Blue Spigot is also a reminder for me – and for you – of how to live now. Every day.

As Jesus said, Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (John 13:34).

Open the spigot.

Benediction of Blessing

  • May God open your eyes to see the abundance of blessings in your life because of his kindness and grace.

  • May God help you keep the spigot of your life open, blessing others with the kindness and grace of Jesus that you have received.

  • May God give you the ability to see all the “Blue Spigot” stories of the Bible as evidence of your loving God hearing your prayers … and maybe receive a story of your own.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM


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