2014 – November – Do You Remember?

The Intake Tubes

How could anyone forget the Phase 2 allegory “The Intake Tubes,” with its graphic sci-fi images of soft, mobile cylinders running about with their intake tubes extended?

As you’ll recall, the cylinders were designed to be filled only by their Creator. But instead, they thought they could do a better job of filling themselves through other sources. And so they went about with their intake tubes extended, seeking some source through which they might fill themselves.

Some of the cylinders had their intake tubes inserted into other cylinders, which they called a relationship. Other cylinders had their intake tubes attached to elected offices, jobs, banks, titles, churches, and pleasurable activities and substances. But they never found fulfillment. Fulfillment could never come through any of these sources because they were just as empty as the cylinders themselves!

The One called the Unique Cylinder, however, was different. Rather than having intake tubes seeking external sources of fulfillment, the Unique Cylinder had overflow tubes that extended outward to others. He had intake tubes, too, but they worked in reverse. Rather than pointing outward, His intake tubes pointed inward and were inserted directly into the indwelling Creator who provided everything He needed while providing outflow to others as well.

This allegory is easy to grasp because it so graphically depicts life apart from Christ that we see every day. There’s no end to the supply of false sources around us. Through advertising and other promotions, we’re bombarded with daily reminders that we won’t be satisfied or fulfilled until we look a certain way, have the newest car, the latest mobile phone, the nicest house, or the most exotic vacation.

Modern life may seem to offer far more false sources of fulfillment than civilizations centuries ago. But false sources are nothing new.

Look at Saul, Israel’s first king. Saul was more concerned with finding his own fulfillment than turning to God for everything he needed. We see in 1 Samuel chapter 13 that Saul trusts in himself and his own reasoning rather than in God when he offers the sacrifice. The men in his army were becoming impatient, and Saul wanted to appease them. But rather than waiting for Samuel, as God told him, Saul sought his own fulfillment by offering the sacrifice.

Later in 1 Samuel chapter 15, God told Saul to destroy the Amalekites, killing them all and destroying everything that belonged to them. But again, Saul had his intake tubes out, seeking fulfillment by pleasing man. He allowed his soldiers to keep the sheep and cattle they found rather than destroying everything as they had been commanded.

In the New Testament, we read about the rich young man who asks Jesus what he needs to do to attain eternal life. Jesus replies that the young man needs to obey the commandments. When the young man replies that he has kept the commandments, Jesus tells him to sell everything, give the money to the poor, and follow Him. But the rich young man is not willing to do this; he is tied too closely to his riches. His intake tubes are fully inserted into wealth rather than the true source of fulfillment.

In Acts chapter 5 we read of a married couple, Ananias and Sapphira, who seek fulfillment by selling a piece of land and appearing to give it all to the Lord’s work while keeping a portion of the money for themselves. They were perhaps seeking the esteem of those around them, as though they had done a noble act by selling their land and giving it to the Lord. But instead, their deception brought their deaths.

The contrast is striking between our feeble attempts to fill ourselves compared with everything the Father wants to give us.

“On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him would later receive.” John 7:37–39 (NIV)

Jesus is the only one who can truly fill us. He wants us to draw everything we need from His indwelling Spirit. We thank God that we no longer have to search for someone or something to fill us with what we need. Instead we have the eternal source of life living inside us!

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