Sometimes we are parched and thirsty because we have gone, not to the spring of living water, but to the “well of the world.” (Marc Kinna’s phrase. See below for a link to his thoughts on this.) And the well of the world holds no water for our souls.
And — wouldn’t you know it — as this post was simmering in my brain, I was led to that well of the world and invited to take a sip. Yup. Found myself looking wistfully at something and thinking, “If only I had that, then my life would be …”
Jeremiah tells us what God thinks about His people chasing earthly accomplishments, people, and ideas to sustain and nourish our souls. God says,
“For my people have done two evil
They have abandoned me —
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!”
I meet many things in this world that appeal to me. Our affluent times (yes, even after this economic nosedive) make it all too easy to slip into acquisition mode. That hype about having the “American Dream” can trap us. Even simple things can lead into an ambush: I stroll through the mall and hear a very loud message that my wardrobe needs to be updated … the neighbors have that gorgeous landscaping … the internet encourages my dream of a cottage in Maine…
Possessions are not the only things that capture us. Achievement is pursued and praised, to the extent that we sacrifice our families and sometimes our sanity. Myriads of products and people and ideas parade themselves as the “answer” to our problems. Your “fulfillment” lies in the pursuit of happiness or “finding” yourself. (Think about all those “self-help” books. Huh? When I’m desperate and caught in some tangled web of my own making … then I’m going to be able to help myself? Really?)
OK, I’m ranting. And I’m not saying new clothes or the internet or a promotion at work are unhealthy spiritually. But the question is, Where do you look for water to sustain your soul? Each one of you will have a different list of things that the enemy is trying to use to replace your relationship with God.
And yes, I’m going to say it — Satan can even use church, religious tradition, and doctrine, if we give those things in themselves more energy and devotion than we give to our Creator. Sometimes, we build those cisterns, thinking they will provide life, instead of going to the fountain of life.
Just a little tidbit I picked up somewhere: We often misinterpret the messages our bodies send to our brains. When we open the refrigerator door or scrounge through the cupboards looking for a snack, we aren’t really hungry; we’re thirsty. Interesting. So I’ve tried being more judicious about this; and when I think I’m hungry, I find that I am, instead, thirsty. When I pay attention to that, I drink more water (good for me) and eat fewer snacks (very, very good for me).
We need not be confused about what our souls really need: Scriptures are very clear. Nothing on this earth will satisfy and sustain like the fountain of living water. God has called our attempts to provide water for ourselves “an evil thing.” We try all kinds of things to assuage our thirst, but man-made cisterns will never hold the life-giving water we need.
Psalm 68:6 says the rebellious will live in a sun-scorched land. Compare Isaiah 12:3, that says, With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!
The One who created us knows what gives us life. And He supplies it. Why do we instead try to build cracked cisterns that cannot hold water?
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
Rescue me from my rebellion.
Scripture: Jeremiah 2:13, Psalm 39:8 (both NLT)
Link to Marc Kinna’s thoughts: http://marckinna.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/burning-tossing-abstaining/
Cracked cisterns. Great image of not such a great tendency. I appreciate the challenge. /mk