“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns That can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13
Oh, the grief God feels for me. He offers me His fresh and sparkling living water as it burbles up joyfully from the fountain of Life…He stretches out His hand to invite me to come, drink great draughts from it, and I am so, so very thirsty. My mouth is dry and dusty from breathing the air of this world. I have been running the race, running so hard, trying with all my strength to do everything right. I come close…I look at His outstretched hand, His tender eyes imploring me…and then…
I turn away.
I turn to another cistern, cracked and leaking, a cistern that is not connected with His life, that has never been connected to Him, but was enlarged by my own hands, years and years ago. There is no fresh, bubbling water there. There is a sludge of dark putrescence at the bottom, a few flies buzz around, mosquito larva swims in the murky stillness. It stinks. It repels.
But I bend..and I drink.
I drink the dregs of pride, and fear, and regret. I drink abuse, and guilt, and shame. It hurts and does not go down easy, it sticks in my throat and leaves a bitter aftertaste, but I persist.
And the Father…my Father…He weeps over me as I do. He bends low and speaks His words of love in my ear, His words of peace, and promise, and life, but they are muffled by the sound of my own gulping and gasping. Sure and swift, death comes. Death to hope, death to joy, death to vision, and hearing, and grace, and I collapse inward, a black hole of need and loss.
I give up.
But the story does not end.
It does not end because deep within I still hear Him calling. He stands over me, singing. His tears fall on me as I lay, inert and exhausted. He binds my wounds. He speaks peace to the storm in my own mind. His grief penetrates my heart. Oh child, He whispers. Choose life. Choose life! Choose Me. Leave the poisoned wells in the past. Trust Me to make all things new. I take the water from His hand, and it purifies what has been poisoned.
Though it feels like a vicious cycle that will never end, there is redemption here. The glory-to-glory is here, in the black hole of need, in the gutter of abandonment and rescue, in the hurt and the healing, that is when I am slowly shaped into His image. It feels all wrong; it doesn’t feel like victory, but with God all is topsy-turvy, and failure becomes His triumph as I learn to turn. Learn to choose.
Learn to live.
John 4: 10-14