Jer. 2:13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water.
The prophet Jeremiah speaks to the people regarding their infidelity to God. He declares that they have committed two evils for they have turned their backs on God and they have put their trust in foreign gods. The true God is the fountain of living water. He is the one who provides us with all that is needed for life on a daily basis. The water runs directly from the source, from God himself, and refreshes on a daily basis. This water brings life to the sinner and refreshes the saint. It provides us with a direct connection to the source of all life and fills us to the brim with the overflowing presence of the Lord.
But the people have turned away from God and have chosen to worship foreign gods. They ignore the beautiful flowing river of life which they pass on a daily basis only to go and get their water from a cistern. Sadly it took great effort to build the cistern, having dug it out by themselves. The cistern only collects water when there is rain -- which in the Middle East is not all that frequently. Therefore the water supply in a regular cistern is always in question -- will there be water, or will there not. During long periods of drought the water begins to evaporate and becomes stale. There is no freshness in this water -- but that would be the condition of the cistern were it in pristine condition. Not only are they trying to keep their water in a cistern, but their cisterns are cracked and they hold no water. There is nothing left to sustain them.
This is the story of the foreign gods for they have nothing to give. All they do is take. The people have to put effort into building altars and giving sacrifices and yet they get nothing in return. Israel is constantly struggling for survival because she ignores the source which runs through her. The river of life is there and the water is available for the drinking. But Israel has committed evil and therefore ignores all that God desires to provide and is willing to live off the stale, muddy waters which may be found at the bottom of a cracked and broken cistern.
The contrast between the living water and the cistern probably seen almost ridiculous. Who in the world would want to drink water from a cracked cistern? That doesn't even make sense -- and yet, could it be that God's children today have made the same choice? Instead of going to the source of living water on a daily basis we want to dig cisterns. Maybe if I spend time on Sunday with the Lord, I can fill up my cistern so that the water will last throughout the week. The result is that we have built not only cisterns, but cracked and broken cisterns. They fool us into believing that they are storing up the living water but in reality they hold no water at all.
I believe that this concept of cisterns is a real problem for follower of Christ these days. We are so busy and many things are wanting our attention. In the meantime we are wondering how we can squeeze in time for the Lord. The average church board member now misses at least 12 Sundays a year. Just think what that means for the rest of the congregation! There are those who call themselves "regular" attenders who may come once every 4-6 weeks. And somehow I doubt that these sporadic church attenders are going to the living water on a daily basis. If it were true and they were spending time at the stream of living water, being filled and sustained with the freshness of a deeply personal and intimate relationship with the Lord, then I don't think that Christianity would be in the current condition in which it finds itself -- especially in America.
I believe, without realizing what we were doing, we slowly moved away from time at the stream on a daily basis. We're too busy for that -- we'd have to set aside time to go there. We want something quick and easy and so we begin to dig our own personal cisterns. We've been fooling ourselves into believing that somehow we could store up the life-giving water from the Lord to be used whenever we felt like dipping into the quick and easy cistern. It seemed like a good idea at first. If I go to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night I'll keep putting water into my cistern and then I don't have to put in so much time on a daily basis with the Lord. But over time the cistern has been neglected. We're just too busy! And we are busy with good things -- but there's no time to keep the cistern patched and now I only have time to go to the living water once a week -- or maybe even just once a month. I try to dip in that water as best I can and bring home a little to throw into my dilapidated cistern but of course, it all runs out because the cracks are too large. And before we know it, we discover that we are drying up spiritually.
There is only one way in which we may stay alive and vibrant spiritually and that is to go to the stream and drink from the living water every single day of our lives. I think of the old song, "The Cleansing Stream -- I see I see, I plunge and oh it cleanseth me…" Yes, it does, but you only stay clean by staying in that stream and allowing the life-giving, cleansing and purifying work of the stream to be on-going in our lives. It's not good enough to go once, or twice, -- those are great experiences, but then we have to stay in that stream, connected to it, cleansed by it and sustained daily to continue to grow and be the living followers of Jesus Christ that our world so desperately needs to see and experience.
I think we probably need to seriously evaluate where we are in our Christian journey and whether we have become satisfied with cracked cisterns.
Lord, may I come to you each and every day and be filled with your life-giving presence. Amen.