Lake levels. It has the ring of worn-out rags…unless you live in Texas.

Texans keep track of lake levels, especially since populations explode with every new transplant. Homes come with grass, and grass requires water. Hence, the lake level discussion.

In spring, we usually get rain. The rains are vital because they fill lakes. When the rain fills the lakes in spring, we can water grass in summer when rain happens everywhere else.

If enough rain does not fall in spring, you don’t have enough water in summer.

Aesop, the blind Galatian storyteller, echoed the same idea.

He tells a story about an ant and a grasshopper. When late autumn comes, the grasshopper, fiddle under his arm, comes to the ant and begs for food.

This shocked the ant. “You haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?”

The grasshopper replied, “I was so busy making music that before I knew it, the summer was gone.”

These are not tales of the travails of Texans facing the summer blast furnace or the fate of a fiddle-playing insect. They both speak to a principle upon which all life rests.

You can only take out of life what you put into it.

The demon treats the high school student and the Pulitzer Prize winter the same. Writers know it. The blank page taunts with is, “what are you going to write about?”

It is the lesson of bankers selling budgets. You can only take out what you put in. Save more money because you never know when you will need it.

Jesus knew it as well. Matthew 4 finds him sent to the deserts, where solitude prepares him for ministry. But in the desert, the devil tests and torments. The devil offers him escape to the man who will suffer for all mankind if he will only bend his knee to him. To the hungry stomach, he encourages bread from stone. He coaxes to prove his importance to the man who left heaven to come to earth, where men will ignore him.

The refrain recurs…it is written. The words of Deuteronomy and Psalms arose from the past. Long Sabbath rituals, stories told by family patriarchs, and drilled learning from parents framed his response.

When he needed the strength, it came. What he put in, he could take out.

As a preacher, I have learned that you speak out of the reservoir. You can only take out what you put in. The study of the past becomes the sermon of the present. Tomorrow’s class begins today.

Where will your strength, your endurance come? Where will you need the knowledge and the insight? Who knows the day, but we know that you cannot call it out if you haven’t put it back.

Examine your habits. Put back each day, and then you will have what you need when you need it most.