Mirage, Oasis, or Fount?

Living WaterMy heart always manages to stumble into the desert despite my best efforts. God woke me this morning with the image of water flowing in the desert because He knew my heart was thirsty and needed filling. I try to quench my heart’s thirst, but my efforts are like chasing mirages.

A mirage promises satisfaction, then quickly disappears when I get close. Mirages sidetrack my heart and keep it from the path God has in mind. Oxford defines a mirage as “something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.” Even seasoned bedouins fall prey to the illusion of water created by heat in the desert. Heat turns a reflection into an enticing pool that gives false hope to a thirsty heart. Lust, like a mirage in the desert, promises satisfaction even when the facts say otherwise. Mirages give false hope, leaving me thirsty and feeling foolish.

An oasis is real and offers life-giving water to desert travelers. I thank God for the oases He has placed in my path; without them, my heart would never have survived its journey. It’s tempting to cling to an oasis, but I know I can’t. An oasis revives travelers in the desert, but it is not the destination. God knows leaving an oasis is painful and frightening, but He also knows I must move on if I am to get where He wants me to be.

I’ve been fooled by mirages and tempted by oases, but I am learning to have faith and rely upon the living water Christ offered the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:13-14 ”

“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (NASB)

Mirages don’t exist, and oases are only temporary. The best wells and springs in the world will eventually run dry, but the living water Christ offers will become in me a well of water springing up to eternal life if I with trust God with my heart. It’s hard to imagine my heart never being thirsty again, but that is exactly what Christ promises. I simply have to believe Him.

Christ’s love is not an illusion or a temporary fix, but I fear I have seen it as both. The image of an ever-flowing fountain of sweet spring water in the desert is a powerful one. Knowing Christ’s precious love can be forever flowing from a fountain in my own heart is more than I can imagine on my own. God will always let me chose where my heart will drink, but His Holy Spirit will hold my heart and help me drink deeply when I am ready to leave the mirages and oases and let His fountain run freely through my heart.

I Wonder….

Wonder wakes my heart and directs my wandering mind. I love words, and wonder is a favorite of mine. The dictionary definition for the noun form reads, “a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.” The verb is to, “desire or be curious to know something.” 

God gives each of us the gift of curiosity. It is a thirst which drives us to His love. Jesus tells the woman at the well in John 4:14 that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (NASB) The woman was filled with wonder and wanted to understand something inexplicable. She was not satisfied with the  world’s water and knew in her heart there was something better. Christ’s words awoke her wonder.

The desire for something better, newer, bigger, faster, etc., is never-ending. Christ offers another way of living. He offers living water that creates a wellspring in our own hearts. Christ’s precious love doesn’t pass through us like all the other things we put into our bodies and minds in an attempt to quench a thirst only God can quench. We all know about thirst we can’t quench and hunger that will not go away. God knows the source of all yearning is a desire to be loved, and He also knows that satisfaction needs a never-ending source.

God doesn’t take away our thirst, but He  does offer to quench it once and for all. The old saying that you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink comes to mind when I read John 4. This woman’s thirst, like all of ours, comes from a deep need to be filled with something other than what the world has to offer.

No amount of water, food, sex, power, money, or drugs comes close to a drop of the living water Christ offers to the woman at the well. I can refuse or delay, or I can take a little taste and walk away; but if  I drink deeply, His love becomes a beautiful spring in my own heart. The choice is mine, and it always will be. God doesn’t force His love on others, and He doesn’t force others to love Him back. He knows unconditional love is the only thing that will satisfy. The wonder of the woman at the well is in all of us, and I’m thankful for that wonder because it brought me to a fountain of living water that changes the way I live and love.

I wander when I’m distracted or disturbed, but wonder always brings me back to His well. I hope I never lose the wide-eyed wonder that fills me with a desire to embrace His “beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, and inexplicable” love. I believe it’s what Jesus meant in Matthew 18:3 when He said, ““Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NASB) Children have a natural sense of wonder until we destroy it. It would be a wonderful world indeed if we allowed children to help us find our wonder so we could find our way back to that fountain and drink deeply.

Vision of Peace

Ready to Go

Let me see Your vision

So I can live in peace.

Show me Your ways

So I can be who You made me to be.

Wake me up

So I can see what You are doing.

Hear my cries

So I can bear my heart to You.

Help me see the best

So I can forget the worst.

Let me dwell on the beautiful

So I can let go of the ugly.

Give me the Bread of Life

So I may never know hunger again.

Let me drink of Your Living Water

So I will forget my thirst.

I will sing myself into Your presence.

I will be vigilant as I await Your return. 

I will be who you made me to be.

I will live out Your vision of peace.

Sunset

(Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; John 6:25-38)

These scriptures truly did work together for my good this week as I let God fill me with His vision of peace.

Fountains & Cisterns

Forsaking a filled and flowing fountain for an empty cracked cistern sounds ridiculous, but that’s just what Israel is doing according to Jeremiah 2:13. It is what all of us do at some point in our lives. No matter how big or beautiful the cisterns I dig for myself, they will never hold water or compare to the living water Christ’s love provides.  Jeremiah 2 is referred to as “Judah’s Apostasy.” Apostasy is the renunciation of a religious faith or an abandonment of a previous loyalty, and digging my own cistern amounts to doing just that.

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.” NASB

Loyalty becomes tricky when a conflict occurs. That’s true in day-to-day life, and it’s true in my relationship with God. Faith in God provides that beautiful flowing fountain that never runs dry. Faith in my own ability or in anything other than God leads to a cracked cistern and a very dry soul. Only God can satisfy my thirsty soul. In verse 12, Jeremiah relays God’s heart, “‘Be appalled, O heavens, at this, And shudder, be very desolate,’ declares the Lord.” 

Appalled and desolate are words that aptly describe the situation in which Israel finds itself, and they also describe the personal idolatry that results when I dig my own cistern.  Digging cisterns is a natural reaction when I think I know what’s best for me. I love Jeremiah’s imagery, but his message is always one that tears the very core of my heart. This week’s scripture hit particularly hard, but his image of living water offers tremendous healing. God lets me continue digging cisterns as I try to find a way to get my way, but He prefers that I stop digging and drink from His fountain. The choice is mine because even the sweetest water would not satisfy if forced down my throat. It is only in the dryness of my broken cistern that I find a thirst for God that nothing else will satisfy. He knows I have to dig a few cisterns before I can appreciate His fountain. There is great peace in realizing I can put down my shovel and relax.

Broken Cistern

Living Water

An Oasis in the Desert

 

Just as the light is welcome in deep darkness, so is the water welcome in the dryness of the desert. The clear, cool water Christ offers truly does end all thirst once I stop looking elsewhere for my thirst to be quenched. I try to light my way and quench my thirst, but the light and the waters of this world are temporary fixes for an eternal problem. My need for independence and my worker bee mentality have led to frustration as I’ve tried to do what only God is capable of doing.

John 4:7-14 describes Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

These scriptures offer a beautiful description of the difference between my ways and God’s ways. I continue to think of Him in my terms rather than grasping His true nature. He is not like me, and until I come to know that at the deepest level of my being, I cannot drink deeply of His living water and become “a well of water springing up to eternal life.” His quenching is not only complete, it also connects me to the Source of eternal life and love. It’s one thing to know about God and even to accept that Jesus is His Son, but it is quite another to connect deeply and allow His love to flow through my heart.

Like the well Jacob dug, Christ’s well required making a deep impact upon this world. The digging He did was far deeper than the best well on earth. I’m sure that the well upon which He sat was one of the finest around, but it could not compare with what He was offering. In the desert, the notion of never experiencing thirst again is a dream come true. In a world that is a dark desert without His love, it is the same. What Christ offers seems to good to be true, so many dismiss it as pie in the sky. Perhaps that is because it is simply pie in the sky for many Christians who do not reach down deeply into their own hearts to find the Source of love. Christ’s love is not for wading or splashing, it is for drinking deeply. That requires faith, and faith is the heart of the beautiful scriptures in John 4.

To never thirst again is a dream that can’t be for me. Or can it? The Samaritan woman knew she didn’t deserve the water being offered, and that is the first step to receiving it. Many guard the well of Christ and believe they have the right or maybe even the responsibility to make sure that folks like the Samaritan woman don’t taint the water. If we fret about who is drinking at the well or how they are drinking, we will miss the living water so graciously offered by Christ. We are all the woman at the well; we just don’t all know it.