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Living Water

I spent most of my life living next to the beautiful Lake Michigan. A vast infrastructure of pumps and pipes delivered fresh water to the tap in my childhood home. I never worried a day about water shortage. Lake Michigan links to its majestic sister lakes, Huron, Superior, Erie, and Ontario. They’re deep and they’re wide. And millions of people draw from them. Now I live a few too many miles from those shores to drink lake water. Our little farmstead has a well. This concept took some getting used to for me. Suddenly my reservoir of water changed from a blue expanse that stretches between two horizons to some unknown recess below my house that I just have to hope will always have enough for our family needs. Though, generally, in the fertile Midwest, water shortage worries are pretty far from our thoughts. But I consider life in desert climates and what water sources mean to those inhabitants. What about before the age of water treatment facilities and water mains? How much more their appreciation for fresh water sources would have been. Wells, or cisterns, as they are also called, are mentioned frequently in the Bible. The stakes were high for possession of natural springs. Often, much hard work went into digging and carving into the rock. Men would make war for them, swear oaths over them or build altars beside them. But I love to notice the mention of women at these wells. Often, it is simply mentioned that they are gathering water. Coming and going with their clay jars – women’s work. But far from demeaning, I must appreciate how important this work was. We know how quickly the human body perishes without water. Above all sustenance on Earth, water is most crucial. The women were entrusted with the privilege of drawing water from the cisterns. They had the satisfaction of watching their little ones drink from the life-giving liquid. Their arms must have been strong as they lowered their jars down and hauled them out over and over again and then balanced them on firm shoulders to walk back home. The most fascinating aspect of the mention of cisterns in the Bible is that they were often meeting places designed by God. Hagar received God’s promise beside a well. Rebekah was discovered for Isaac as she approached a well. And, of course, there was that moment when Jesus spoke across a well to the Samaritan woman in one of the most notable encounters in the whole New Testament. Living water. The human physical design that causes us to crave water on a chemical level provides the metaphor for our desperate spiritual thirst for the living water that Jesus offers. But what happens when the cistern is empty, when the well dries up? In 2018 America, I’d buy some Culligan. Spiritually, though, there are greater implications. In Biblical times, dried out wells might be used for prisons. When Joseph’s brothers conspired against him, they cast him into a desolate pit that had once bubbled with water. Reservoirs of life can quickly become pits of misery when the water runs out. And I’m the one in charge of tending my own well. God laments to the prophet Jeremiah, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves broken cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Think on the futility.  A broken cistern that catches water but cannot keep the gift. How does this look in my life? How am I at risk of forsaking God? Am I am digging cisterns in my life that hold no water? What if I dig, dig, dig but forget the main purpose? I’ll end up very thirsty. So much work goes into marriage, work, children, relationships, but if I do so in my own wisdom and power, I’m just digging myself a pit. A pit of misery. Jesus promises no more thirst for anyone who will follow him. I can imagine myself seated like the Samaritan woman, hanging on Jesus’ every word. What kind of water gives permanent satiation? I want that. This is where this blog comes from. As much as I loathe misspelled words, I couldn’t get this one out of my head. Sistern. A play on the word, cistern. This blog is for all my sisters. So many of us crave the filling up, and I want to share words that help us patch the holes and mend the broken wells. It’s not that I am any more spiritual, knowledgeable, or equipped than anyone else. I write so that I myself might believe. And I’d love for this Sistern blog to be a reservoir of those truths that God has already revealed to us. The soil in which we dig our wells is sinful. The crack in the universe that splintered in Eden’s earth, keeps widening. So, none of this is easy on our own. It will often feel very exhausting. But God meets us at the well as He met His people throughout history. I want to be listening when He speaks. And one day, when we believers are all together, in our heavenly home, the Lamb will guide us to that eternal spring of life. And that’s where that precious promise will be claimed: He will wipe every tear from our eyes. (Rev. 7:17) We will trade our bitter salt-water tears of regret, frustration and heartache for that perfect, eternal water. Thanks for reading. Draw deeply, sip sweetly, and hope heavenly.

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