Becoming Reservoirs



“If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.” St. Bernard

When my brother Jim was young he would play for hours with his farm toys and cars in the dirt.

Dad cut down a big tree and pulled out the stump one summer and it left a huge bare spot in the back yard.  Jim quickly moved his stuff to that dirt spot and made roads and buildings out of twigs.  That was his spot the whole summer.

After a night of heavy rain he went out to the spot to discover a giant puddle right in the middle of his city.  He got out his bulldozer and began to dig channels but he quickly discovered that all they did was drain the big puddle and leave him with nothing.  In his mind he was trying to create rivers and a lake but in no time at all the channels carried the water away and the giant puddle dried up. It was all very disappointing to a little boy!

When I read this quote from St. Bernard I remembered that little boy and his adventures one hot Kansas summer and I realized our walk with God can be just like those channels he dug in the dirt.  If all we are is a channel, all we will be capable of is taking from the reservoir until we have drained it dry.  Jim tried all day long to take buckets of water and refill the reservoir but the channels just kept sucking it dry.

St. Bernard continues his thoughts by saying, “The channels let the water flow away and do not retain a drop.  But the reservoir is first filled, and then, without emptying itself, pours out its overflow which is ever renewed over the fields which it waters.”

In his book God Help Me, Jim Beckman adds, “We are not meant to be channels just moving things from here to there, even good things that we have heard or learned.  We are designed to be reservoirs filled to capacity with the very life of God, even overflowing.  It is the overflow that becomes our ministry.”

So, the big question: how do we become a reservoir and not a channel?

It’s simple: we allow God to fill us…again and again and again until the overflow floods into everything around us.

The only way I know to do that is through prayer.  If the best we do is offer prayer while driving or waiting at a stoplight or while we sit in the drive-thru line the best we will be is a channel because that kind of prayer life will never fill us.

If the best we offer God in conversation is a laundry list of needs and wants we will find ourselves empty and dry.

If the best we offer God are our well-intended attempts to fit deliberate, consistent prayer time into our lives the best we will be is a channel.

A reservoir takes work and takes time.  If we think we just don’t have time for 15 to 30 minutes of reservoir-building prayer then we probably need it more than we realize.

Another great line from Jim Beckman’s book was in response to the excuses we make about not having time for consistent, intimate daily prayer is “no one ever died of hunger because of not having time to eat.”  That screamed to me: you have time for what you make time for!

Sometimes my head spins when I see some of the crazy stuff going on in our culture! I am not a wise or powerful woman who can change much, but I know for sure there is one thing I can change and that’s me;  I’m going to work on changing from a channel to a reservoir.

We all have a mission to share the love of Christ and the world would be such a different place if we were sharing from the overflow of our reservoir.  Just as the earth depends on lifegiving water, God’s children depend on HIS life giving water so let’s get to filling up our reservoirs!

A Seed To Plant:  Take an honest look at your daily prayer life and ask God to show you what changes you can make to become a reservoir.

Blessings on your day!

Copyright 2014 Sheri Wohlfert


About Author

Sheri is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker and teacher. She uses her great sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Her roots are in Kansas but her home is in Michigan. The mission of her ministry is to encourage others to look at the simple ways we can all find God doing amazing things smack dab in the middle of the laundry, ball games, farm chores and the hundred other things we manage to cram into a day. Sheri also writes at

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