Prayer 556 - Week 4, Tuesday
Tuesday - Cisterns of Water
Note - The word "cistern" in this verse is sort of like a well. It is a human made reservoir, usually cut out of limestone. In ancient times it had a small opening but went 15-20 feet down, holding plenty of rainwater to get people through the dry seasons.
“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me - the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!"
In ancient times, if you weren't near a fresh water source, a cistern was the best choice you had. But if you had an abundant fresh spring in your backyard, and you chose to dig out a cistern anyway, people would probably have thought you were ignorant at best.
So often we can't see God, the living water, and we spend our time/resources/energy/effort on lifeless pursuits that cannot satisfy us.
Pause and be honest with God this morning. Where have you walked away from the source of living water to build your own cisterns? Confess to God where you have placed your trust, or looked for satisfaction, in things other than him.
The cisterns we build may break, my own life may feel like it's broken, dry, and crumbling, but we know where we can find the living water that will satisfy.
This morning, take time to seek and savor the living water that can restore your soul. You don't have to tire yourself trying to find or build it. It is freely offered.
O Holy Spirit, Love of God,
pour out your grace,
and descend plentifully into my heart.
Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling,
and scatter there your cheerful beams.
Dwell in that soul that longs to be your temple.
Water that barren soil, overrun with weeds and briars,
and lost for lack of cultivating,
and make it fruitful with your dew from heaven.
Come, refreshment of those who languish and faint.
Come, Star and Guide of those who sail in the tempestuous sea of the world. You are the only Haven of the tossed and shipwrecked.
Come, Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying.
Come, Holy Spirit, in your great mercy, and make me fit to receive you. Amen.
- Augustine of Hippo, Fourth Century
Many times in my late 20s and early 30s I found myself looking for water in “cracked cisterns“. From my early upbringing I knew that the Lord was my spring of living water, but at that point in my life I insisted on going off road with my life. I am so glad that the Lord lead me back to the straight and narrow path. I have spent a lot of time talking this over with the Lord, and have asked for forgiveness for this wayward part of my life. I think God for His great grace and mercy.
All I can think of is the "boreholes" that people fig on developing countries, where there's no reliable municipal water source. They provide water for the whole area, like the one our church sponsored in Kuwadzana, or the one Siena sponsored in the Haitian village where I stayed five years ago, just after we moved into this house. These "cisterns" really are a blessing, and people line up outside of the compound gates before first light so they can get inside and collect all of the water they need for the day.
But they are nothing like a natural well or spring provided by God. Taking a shower in a home fed by one of these man-made wells is--better than no street, but generally pretty disappointing. The water is sparse, its cleanliness level is shaky, and you can't really drink it without purification.
But the water from a fresh spring gushes out abundantly, is clear and clean, and brings health instead of sickness.
This is the difference between the water God gives and the water we create for ourselves with addictions or obsessions or artificial relationships based on filtered images. One is satisfying and life giving, the other makes you feel worse than no water at all.
I'm grateful for these times of watering for my soul each morning.
I am grateful for fresh living water. There is no doubt that I have settled for cracked cisterns at some points along the way-things that seem to satisfy, but leave me parched. Lord, I hunger and thirst for more of You. I know Augustine whose prayer we read this morning spent years apart from God, but his mother prayed for him. I thank God for prayers that are prayed for us. I know many are praying for me and Bert and I pray for many. These prayers are the most powerful things we can do. When we see our children or grandchildren drinking from dry cisterns, we pray for them to find fountains of living water. I am so grateful for those who pray for me. I know the value of those prayers. I just remembered Augustine’s mother’s name-Monica I believe! She never gave up. She prayed for him until he came to the Lord. She is an inspiration to me as I pray for my family, our Church and many others. I am also continuing to learn to pray for those with whom I disagree. Let the fountains of Living Water flow.
The Lord's fountain of living water is refreshing as I sit in my prayer chair each day sitting with the Lord asking Him to help me in understanding His word, to give me wisdom and knowledge, to poor out His Holy Spirit to me. When I'm unable to do this I seem to fret myself through the day knowing I've missed the mark with Him. Father help me to always plan my daily schedule with You first in my life.
This reading speaks to me on so many levels right now. In many ways, the Garden project was like a cistern I was trying to build in a spiritual desert for Julia, and me; a way to cultivate the fruit of the spirit in a meaningful way. I'm glad to be on this spiritual journey with all of you, sharing the word of God in so many meaningful ways on a daily basis. For me, it's like following a river to it's natural source, which often starts with a mountain spring. As we travel we may encounter waterfalls, rocks, rapids, and all the other plants and wildlife that rely upon this clean water. Here, in California, water is a precious commodity that has people fighting over dams and aqua ducts. I much prefer the abundant flowing water that I can turn to every day to help clean my body and refresh my spirit.
Teri,what’s beautiful insight! I am prayi for fresh living water to flow in your life a d in Julia’s too! We agree! Let the garden go! Let the fresh water flow!!! Blessings on you and Julia!!!