Is there a keeper of the spring in your life? Perhaps you need to heed the counsel of a Scottish preacher named Peter Marshall.

Marshall had a gift. His Scottish brogue did more than enchant. It allowed him to communicate relevant ideas. His post-war generation was so different, yet so much the same as ours.

“The Keeper of the Spring” became one of his most beloved lessons.

The Keeper of the Spring

He tells of an old man who lives in the hills. A stream flowed through his small piece of property, providing fresh water to the town below. The man gathered sticks and leaves, and cleared the silt that affected the water quality.

After several years, the man went to the town leaders. He asked them for a small fee for keeping the spring clean due to his need. They agreed.

After a few months, the town council challenged the agreement.

“What exactly are we getting for our money?” scowled one cheap member. “In fact, I bet he doesn’t do anything. Has anyone seen him cleaning the spring?”

Silence fell over the group, followed by nods of approval. The council decided not to pay him.

The man stopped removing the silt, leaves, and sticks.

In the beginning, nothing changed. Then, the water started turning brown and picked up a brackish taste. Soon it became undrinkable.

It was then that the townspeople realized the vital task of the man. He was the keeper of the spring. Without him, the water became polluted.

Marshall took as his text for this parable Proverbs 4:23.

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Lives become corrupted without constant attention. Unless someone becomes the keeper of the spring in our lives, days grow foul.

We cannot avoid all influences. We can decide to decide what we let into our lives.

We apply that principle to our physical health. When we nosh on candy, cookies, pastries, and fats without thinking, our health degrades. Our waistlines grow, and energy drags like walking with a weight. Diabetes’ red flag waves as blood sugar changes.

The way to combat it is to watch what you eat. All diets demand both restriction and selection.

In short, the eating plan becomes the keeper of the spring.

Solomon focused on the heart, soul, and mind. If you do not protect what goes into those, spiritual mold encrusts a life.

We live in a contentious and negative age. The modern “doomscrolls,” a practice of flipping through negative social media feeds. The more we let unfiltered into our lives, the more our thinking grows rotten.

Marshall proposed the ideal solution. Become the keeper of your own spring.

The Pollutants

Start with the pollutants. Our sticks, leaves, and silt are:

Some Internet sites and posts promote anger or fear. The result is a warped life shaped into a contentious and quarrelsome spirit. Name-calling and denigrating others are tools to dismiss another. Soon, the soot rubs off on you.

Understand the source, Negativity fuels media (both traditional and social media). Social media computer algorithms escalate inflammatory posts to promote strong negative emotions. Positive news doesn’t grab attention. Bad news sells papers. Movies use the intense emotions to keep you on the edge of your seat.

How do we “tend our spring” when overwhelmed by an unlimited and steady flow of mayhem and rage?

Keeping It Clean

Here’s a start.

Put down devices. Phones, tablets, and computers are primary offenders. The closer they are to you, the more likely you will “check it for a minute.” Then, the minutes fade into hours as the latest bad news or controversy flow unchecked into our lives. If you don’t want to see it, don’t use the source.

Decide what you want to see…and what you don’t. My list includes what creates negative feelings (anger or fear) and inflame controversies. Drop suspicious sources and posts that use name-calling as a putdown tool. If it doesn’t promote positive responses or give joy, I don’t want it in my life.

Change the channel. Unfriend and unfollow those who promote negativity as a tool. (If you cannot stand to drop them, you can usually snooze them.)

Find a substitute. Start doing something Luddite, like read a paper book. You might learn something. Use your phone for its primary purpose–make a phone call. Talk to someone. Lifting a spirit is a better use of time than looking at irritating posts.

Information is not the same as infiltration. Without the keeper of the spring, souls, lives, and hearts sour. Keep yours clean by staying vigilant.