I am always amazed when I think about a bubbling stream or a mountain creek. I find the sound so soothing; yet this same soothing water can support life, and when moving fast enough, it can produce enough power to run vast mills, generate electricity and carry objects for incredible distances at incredible speeds.
The Bible often refers to God as being “living water”. Jesus makes this reference when speaking to the woman at the well: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 NLT).
In the book of Revelation, we are told that this living water flows from the throne of God: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Rev. 21:1 NLT). Ezekiel expands on this to show us that this living water that flows from God’s throne becomes deeper and broader the farther it goes: “The man brought me outside the wall …There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway. Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.” (Ezekiel 47:3-5 NLT).
According to Ezekiel, this living water brings life to dead places: “I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, ‘This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.'” (Ezekiel 47:6-9 NLT).
Unfortunately, not all water is “living”. We have all also experienced the quiet pools of water. These may be serenely beautiful, but they have no power, no propulsion, no soothing sounds, and at least here in Canada, they are havens for mass breeding of mosquitos. And if that pool of water does not have an outlet, it tends to stagnate to the point that it cannot support life.
As you contrast these two bodies of water, the flowing water is constantly giving. It gives sound, it gives power, it gives propulsion, it soothes and calms the spirit. The quiet pool, on the other hand, primarily acts as a place to hold water.
It is interesting to note that God doesn’t ever compare Himself to a quiet pool. In fact, idolatry is compared to a cistern—a place to hold water: “…they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” (Jeremiah 2:13b NLT). In other words, when we pursue something other than the living God, we are abandoning the fountain of living water (See Jeremiah 2:13a) that does nothing but give unconditionally, for something that only takes and as such, cannot support life.
In the days of Jeremiah, idols were pretty easy to identify. They were made of wood and stone, and people bowed down to them, brought them sacrifices and openly worshipped them. Idols still abound, but they are not quite so overt in our day and age. Our idols tend to be innocent looking things like our jobs, certain relationships, control, schedules, etc. Basically, our idols are anything that can occupy our attention and keep us from depending upon God.
Just like idols in Jeremiahs day could be compared to cisterns, receptacles of water and broken ones at that, the “idols” that we worship in our day are also self-serving, taking continually and never giving. While we pursue our careers, while we allow our spouses to be our primary focus, while we put forth all our efforts to be in control at all times, we are only feeding a “broken cistern”. We will never be able to give to others, we will never even be able to rejoice in the waters we are so trying to harbor.
Meanwhile, God calls us to abandon our broken cisterns and to come to the springs of living water: “Anyone who believes in me may come and drink!” (John 7:38a NLT) And when we do, that water will not just nourish us, it will flow through us to nourish others as well: “For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (John 7:38 NLT).
What will it be? Stagnant pools of our own idolatry? Or flowing waters that come from the throne of God?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.