1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
It’s hard to travel around Israel without thinking a lot about water. Except for the Sea of Galilee and a few valleys, it is a parched land. In the areas where it is less dry, though, the water creates a wonderful oasis of green.
It occurs to me that the spiritual landscape of our own country is much like this. We have many parched areas where God is continually rejected. Most TV shows and movies fit the bill for that. Many social settings do, too. As Christians, it is our call to bring God’s love to those areas, providing the living water to change the landscape. How often do I, though, prefer to stay in the lush valleys because, well, it’s just a lot more comfortable there. I may have to get dirty, hot, and sweaty if I wander out of the lush areas of life and work to bring water to a thirsty world.
When we visited archaeological digs, we would see aqueducts, cisterns, pools, and wells, built to create systems for carrying water over long distances, storing it, and then providing it as needed. The similarity to God’s call to us as Christians cannot be missed.
In the New International Version translation of the Bible, there are 620 references to “water”. This is just a few more than the number of references to “heaven” and a few less than the number of references to “love”. When God laid it on the hearts of people to write about water, though, it had to stir up huge emotions because water was so precious. Today, I think that we have lost our emotion about water. If we need water for cleaning, we turn on the tap and don’t think twice. If it’s not quite the right temperature, we will just let it run down the drain until the temperature adjusts to where we want it to be. If we want water to drink, we will go get a bottle of water, hold a glass up against a little spout on our refrigerator door, or maybe go to the water cooler. It’s all very easy and very taken for granted. That simply wasn’t the case during Bible times.
Water was truly a precious commodity then. We saw ruins of old streets that were built with beautiful huge slabs of marble. It made me think of heaven’s streets of gold. To us today, those slabs of marble are precious and would only be used in the finest and most expensive construction. Certainly they’d never be used to pave streets. Not so 3,000 years ago in Israel though. They had plenty of marble. Water was their precious commodity.
Yet, here again, God freely gives His love – His “water” if you will, to us. He only asks that we in turn store it in our hearts as best we can, carry it to those in need, and give it away. Just as the aqeducts would serve as never-ending sources of water, God’s love for us never ends. We have to work by continually refreshing ourselves with His word and by relationships with His people to keep that aqueduct open and life-sustaining but it is ours for the doing and His love is ours for the taking.
The walls and floors of the cisterns we saw were lined with a plaster-like material which preserved them and kept the water from escaping in unintended directions. If the water would run dry in a cistern, the plaster on the walls would crumble and, without repairs, that cistern would leak and cease to hold water. It seems to work that way in our lives as well. If we are not continually re-circulating God’s love – giving it away and replenishing it before it evaporates, we lose our value as a well and as a conduit for carrying God’s love to others. Much like the reality of living in the desert – if you are not continually maintaining your water supply, you lose your life.