Sunday, June 21, 2009

Of Water, Well, and Promises

The Lord gave me another message. He said, “Go and shout this message to Jerusalem.” This is what the Lord says: “I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness. In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children. All who harmed his people were declared guilty, and disaster fell on them. I, the Lord, have spoken! … Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. “For my people have done two evil things: they have abandoned me - the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” Jeremiah 2:1-3, 11-13, NLT)

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How often do we take water for granted? If you’ve spent any time at all in an extended drought, maybe you think about it more, but I’d wager that you stop doing that once the drought eases. Whether we are on municipally supplied water or have our own well source, water is a basic necessity of life that we sometimes seem to think “just comes out of the faucet like magic” whenever we want it.

Throughout the Bible, water is a symbol of life and blessing, most specifically blessing that comes from God. In the Garden of Eden, God provided water for all life using some sort of dew or vapor. While the water in Noah’s flood was a source of punishment and destruction in that instance, it went on to represent God’s provision of life (Moses and the children of Israel) and His blessing (Elijah on Mt. Carmel).

So, when God, speaking through Jeremiah, accuses His people of digging out alternate cisterns to gather other blessings, I’d say He is taking the matter pretty seriously. Israel was again in the depths of betrayal and rebellion. Though they had pledged their undying love to Him in the beginning, they had willfully strayed time and time again to pursue other gods. God had promised to always protect and provide, but they said “No thanks!” and moved on to do it their own way.

We, in the 21st century are nothing like those Israelites, right? Then again, maybe we should read Jeremiah’s words again and do some self-examination to see just how much we actually rely on God’s provision. Oh, He’ll still give it and we will gain some benefit, but we end up trying to “supplement” what He gives with something else. We willfully dig our own wells and cisterns to catch things of our own design, all the while ignoring the Living Water.

I’m just as guilty as the rest when it comes to this point. We all are. Somehow, we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that God “expects” us to do these things – to provide for ourselves. After all, He gave us our minds and our talents. Why wouldn’t he expect us to use them? Nothing could be less Biblical, correct, or appropriate. Yes, God may have blessed us, but He expects us to rely on Him. And that includes His timing and source of provision as well.

It has long been said that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This really isn’t any different. Our hearts have the same independent bent that ruled the Israelites and we tend to make the same mistakes. It’s funny, really, when you think of how many examples are provided to us that we can learn from. Maybe we can change our perspective and actually adjust our own attitudes. After all, the crooked path is much easier to travel when my Father is holding my hand. And His water ALWAYS tastes better than what I can find on my own.
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  1. When was the last time you turned to God for direction and provision when there wasn’t a crisis either brewing or already at hand?
  2. Do you have promises you’ve made to God that you need to go back and revisit? Are you willing to examine and renew them?
  3. Are you guilty of digging your own well and searching for water other than what God has provided? If so, what are you doing about stopping that action and returning to drink deeply of the Living Water?
NLT - Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

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