The Priming Principle

You’ve got to put something in if you want to get something out!

Bobby and Fred were driving the Alabama foothills on a sweltering August afternoon. They were hot and they were thirsty. Eying an old water pump outside an abandoned farmhouse, the two decided to pull over and "try their luck." Fred crossed his fingers as Bobby grabbed the rusty handle and started pumping.

Minutes passed as they tried to coax some water out of the stingy pipe. Nothing! Then Bobby saw it—an old bucket lying nearby. “Fred, why don’t you grab that bucket, go over to that little stream and get some water.” Bobby knew that feeding a little water into the top of the pump would create a prime to get the flow started. Sure enough, moments later, water gushed out.

The priming principle is simple: You have to put something in if you want to get something out. It is a principle that is as true for work as it is for water. God is gracious and God is good, but we should not expect a fresh flow of success if we are not willing to prime our dreams with a bucket of hard work.

This truth came to mind the other day as I dropped down for a few push-ups. I had the song, "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show, running on a direct line to my ears as I pushed my body through the monotonous up and down exercise. This was after  a 4 1/2 mile walk during which I was listening to the Personal Memoirs of Ulyssess S. Grant and simultaneously thinking through issues at SRC.

In one of those Ah-ha moments God reminded me that nothing worthwhile comes without effort.

  • Grant had to pen the 1000 pages of his memoir.
  • The five members of Old Crow had to fine-tune their harmonies and perfect their instruments: banjos, guitar, fiddle, and bass.
  • I had to pound out the steps, push my body, and I had to think!

No one gets fresh water from a lifeless pump. Someone has to prime it and someone has to work the handle. In short, it takes work. This is a message God does not want us to miss:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15 NIV

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.  Proverbs 14:23 NIV

Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 NIV

Hard work is essential for every worthwhile enterprise. Without it, crops wither, grades drop, and dreams gather dust.

"Mere talk" still brings what it has always has -- nothing! If we want the water of success to flow from the pump of life we must prime it with hard work.

Where do you need to "work the pump" to the glory of God today?