From Leaky Dams to Full Lives

The Biblical book of Jeremiah offers a gloomy reflection on spiritual thirst. In Jeremiah 2:13, God shares, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and built cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” In short, Jeremiah is saying we are lousy architects of our own lives.  We are only good at making leaky pools.

I grew up in rural Missouri, playing in the woods behind my house. I spent hours in the woods and creeks behind my home, hiking, exploring, playing, shooting, and occasionally building. My friends and I built forts, but we also, from time to time, endeavored to construct a dam. The hope was to turn a section of a trickling creek into a large pool big enough for us to swim and jump into.

Well, there is a reason that I went to Bible college and not engineering school.   Despite my best efforts, my lack of construction skills meant that I could never build anything more substantial than a leaky dam, resulting in a large and very shallow puddle.   A puddle certainly not big enough to dive into or swim in.

My attempted dam-building mirrors our attempts to find satisfaction in self-made lives. Just as my makeshift dam could never hold the water I hoped for, so too do our efforts to find fulfillment outside of God, building a life how we want to, prove to be inadequate.

Thankfully, though, the story doesn’t end in Jeremiah.  We know that the New Testament is concealed within the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New. In Jeremiah, God laments that his people are making leaky cisterns.  That they are trying to construct their own lives and always coming up thirsty.  But fast forward to the New Testament, and Jesus introduces Himself as the “living water” in John 4:10. In His conversation with the Samaritan woman, Jesus promises a source of water that will never leak, that will never run dry.

You see, just as I could not create a lasting pool of water with my limited abilities, we cannot attain true spiritual and life fulfillment through our own efforts. Jesus, as the living water, offers us what we could never achieve on our own: a source of life and satisfaction that never runs dry. In Him, the deep thirst of our souls finds its answer, far surpassing the temporary puddles of joy we attempt to collect through earthly pursuits.

The question for us today is why are we so unwilling to abandon our futile efforts at dam-building rather than turn to the one true source of living water, where we find eternal life and true life fulfillment?

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