One of my favorite stories by the late Dr. Peter Marshall, former Chaplain of the United States Senate, is about the “Keeper of the Stream.” This story is about an old man who lived in an Alpine forest high above a small Austrian village. This man had been hired by the town council to clear away the rubbish from the pools of water up in the mountains that fed the stream that flowed through their town. With faithful regularity, the keeper of the stream moved along the hill slopes and ravines removing leaves, branches and accumulated silt that could contaminate the fresh flow of water. Truly, because the town possessed such a beautiful clear stream, it became a popular attraction for tourists from all over the world.
Years passed and one evening the town council met for its annual meeting. As the council members looked over the budget, one council member began to question the salary being paid to this obscure keeper of the stream. He questioned why they kept the old man year after year. Because of this council member's persistence and a general mood for austerity, the council members voted to cut the old man’s services from the budget and tell him he was no longer needed. Now for several weeks nothing happened, and the members of the town council congratulated themselves on their savings for taxpayers. By early fall though, the trees began to shed their leaves. Small branches snapped off and fell into the pools, impeding the flow of water. Rollicking rapids with sprays of whitewater became stagnant pools. One afternoon someone noticed a slightly yellowish tint in the town water. Within a few weeks, a slimy film covered sections of the water along the banks and a foul odor was detected. Tourists to the little town soon left and many of the residents became sick. The town council was forced to call a special meeting. Realizing their error, they quickly amended the budget and rehired the keeper of the stream. Within a few weeks the stream cleared and the little town returned to normal.
As we take stock of our own lives, we need to review our spiritual budget. Have we made cuts to portions that may have profound implications for our lives? These cuts may not seem to matter much at all in the scheme of our busy lives. We may have cut out devotional time, or church attendance, or just a time for solitary reflection during a daily walk. However, all these moments serve to purge our souls of the spiritual detritus that is constantly building up. Soon our spiritual stream will become so clogged that we will have great difficulty in communicating with the Supreme Keeper of the Moral Stream. The only remedy is never to be this austere in our spiritual budgeting. We always need a Keeper to clean up the moral stream in our own lives so that we can remain God’s chosen vessels, through which His rich blessings will flow to those around us.