The Dead Sea is an interesting phenomenon. It’s the only place on earth of its kind. It has the lowest elevation of any body of water, and it’s named the “Dead Sea” because nothing can survive in its salty waters aside from some bacteria. It’s known for its dense mineral deposits, mainly salt, but otherwise, it’s a body of water where everything dies.
Like many other lakes it receives its water from nearby rivers and streams, primarily the Jordan, but there is no outlet, so the water just sits there pooling in itself. Like a giant bath with no plug to pull. Kind of gross when you think of it that way. Any unfortunate fish that do make their way in during flood season meet their untimely death as soon as they reach its rank waters. Hence its name, the Dead Sea (1).
It’s Not About What Goes In
Interestingly, when you read about the history of the Jordan River, you can’t help but catch its Biblical significance, most notably it is where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ. So, this “holy river” is the primary water source for the Dead Sea, the place where everything dies (2).
I just finished reading The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, in which Douglas Abrams cataloged an interview with His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In this book, Archbishop Tutu shares his thoughts on why nothing can survive the waters of the Dead Sea.
“The Dead Sea in the Middle East receives fresh water, but it has no outlet, so it doesn’t pass the water out. It receives beautiful water from the rivers, and the water goes dank. I mean, it just goes bad. And that’s why it is the Dead Sea. It receives and does not give. In the end generosity is the best way of becoming more, more, and more joyful.” -Desmond Tutu
It’s What Comes Out That Matters
Thus they say it is better to give than to receive. If you receive but keep it all to yourself, it just dies inside of you. Wow. How powerful is that! And yet so simple. When you think about it, don’t you love giving people things? I love giving someone a gift and watching how it blesses them, don’t you?
Think about a young child at Christmas. When they pick out or make their first gift for someone all by themselves, they’re more excited about giving that gift than opening their own presents. And when you watch their face and anticipation as the receiver opens their gift, it’s another gift in itself.
Maybe you’re thinking, you don’t have any money to give, or the time or creativity to make gifts. Maybe you’re barely making ends meet, burning the candle at both ends just trying to get by. Running around every day like a chicken with your head cut off hoping nothing important falls through the cracks.
In the middle of your crazy busy life, I’ll bet you’ve given more than you realize.
To the person you smiled to at the bank the other day, you gave hope.
When you prepared your family the Easter meal, you gave nourishment.
In holding your spouse’s hand as you said a prayer over the meal made just for the two of you, you gave love.
To your friend you texted just to ask, ‘how’s it going?’, you gave comfort.
As you called your aging parent to say hello, you gave a loving reminder they are not alone.
It’s the Little Things
Sometimes we think giving has to be in grand, expensive, big gestures. It’s truly the little gifts of the heart that mean the most. A phone call or a text to let someone know you’re thinking of them. It’s doing the little things right now, right where you are for those within your reach.
Have you ever followed that heart prompting to reach out to someone with encouragement? One of those random times of day when someone pops into your head so you stop what you’re doing and you message them? You’ll never regret reaching out. The reason that person came upon your heart is because they needed to hear from you.
It’s a Matter of Trust
Giving can be scary. It requires confidence. You might think you’ll sound silly sending a text to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Yet you never know how your kindness can impact them at just the right time.
A kind word at the right moment can make all the difference to the one who needs to hear it.
Sometimes we don’t want to give because we think we’ll get taken advantage of. It’s engrained in our culture. “Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile!” So what? What if we give an inch and then walk that mile together as friends.
Giving is not a two-way street. It requires no strings, thank-you’s or “I owe you’s.” It is simply paying it forward.
Consider a healthy mountain lake. They don’t receive water back from their outlet streams. The water that flows out, goes onward to where it is needed. Fresh, new water flows in from above.
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