Broken Cisterns

“… for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

A cistern is a pit dug into the earth and plastered to hold rainwater. I was a tourist in my city earlier this year and visited the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern, built in 1926 to house 15 million gallons of water for the city of Houston. In 2007 a leak was detected and the cistern was put out of commission. A few years later this irreparable pit was turned into a work of art, with lighting and audio, for a unique underground experience. But the cistern is still useless for its intended purpose.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s time there were three known sources of water in Palestine. The best source was running water from fresh springs, called “living water.” The second source was groundwater, often contained in wells. And lastly, runoff or rainwater was held in cisterns. Much like the cistern I toured in Houston, if the plaster lining of these cisterns was damaged all the water would leak out and only muck would remain (and mosquito larvae!).

To knowingly refuse a drink from a spring of fresh running water and instead seek out muddy, broken cistern water seems ludicrous. And yet that is exactly what God’s people were choosing, spiritually. They chose to worship false gods that could do nothing for them rather than the One True Living God, who has the power to save!

As crazy as these people seem, I see myself choosing spiritual sludge over Living Water everyday. I dig cistern after cistern, looking for satisfaction. The cistern of beauty promises popularity and happiness but sends me into obsessive shopping frenzies, compulsively comparing myself to others and feeling insecure about how I look. The cistern of success and fame promises attention and acceptance but demands unattainable perfection and breeds crippling fear of failure when I inevitably take a misstep. The cistern of companionship promises unconditional love and avoidance of loneliness yet leads to devastation over unmet expectations and anxiously working for the approval of others. Broken cisterns.

These are all good gifts from God to be received with thanksgiving, but they are not the source of life everlasting. Christ alone is the fountain of Living Water that will forever quench our thirsty souls. Our yearning for beauty is more than satisfied as our messy lives are clothed in the radiance and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Desires for fame are overwhelmed with God's renown and the hope of our heavenly glory. And when it comes to companionship, there is no better friend than Jesus. Drink from this Fountain and thirst no more!   

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Worth the Wait

"But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Romans 8:25

In every season of life, whether characterized by joy or sorrow, it seems we are perpetually waiting. Perhaps for a spouse, a job, a child, a home, an answer. And it seems our fast food, microwave, on-demand culture often sees waiting as an enemy of happiness, when in fact waiting itself is a gift from God. It is God’s means of drawing us close to Himself and preparing our hearts for even greater joy and glory than we can presently fathom or obtain. 

Singleness can be a time of great waiting. For years I waited to meet the man I would marry. I longed for the love and affection of a husband. A right and noble longing. But as I waited and entrusted my desires to God, He swelled my heart with more and more of His own love. Such deep and rich love that whether or not I ever married I knew I could be supremely satisfied, beyond comparison to anything this world could offer. I was learning a beautiful truth that, as Paul Tripp says, "Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.” When I married my husband on April 11, 2015, our wedding day was a celebration, not of two perfected people, but rather two broken sinners delighted to share in their discovery of the unconditional and perfect love found in God. The waiting was simply refining and sweetening the joy of our union.  

The believer in Jesus is waiting for a far better union than earthly marriage. While we experience glimmers of glory here and now, it is the unspeakably beautiful, heavenly union to our beloved Bridegroom for which every human heart is ultimately longing; where we will be free of our decaying bodies and the sufferings of this earth and will have complete and full joy in God. But in order to press on toward this coming glory, we cannot dismiss the pain and struggle of waiting with hopelessness or passivity. Waiting on God is actively trusting Him through prayer and thanksgiving and believing He is working all things for good, even when we don't understand. As we depend on God and place our sure hope in Him, He refines our dreams and desires, purges us of lesser pleasures and purifies our hearts to be conformed into the likeness of His Son. Receiving this blessedness of waiting will surely produce joy in our lives today and even greater joy on that glorious day when we are finally united with our wonderful Savior. And as we feast at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb we will see that it was all worth the wait. 

 

The Way to Joy

“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things…” Mark 8:31

How could I have missed it after all the times I’ve read this passage? Good, God-ordained things come by way of suffering. Jesus made this clear to his disciples in Mark 8. But like the disciples who didn't understand, my heart fails to understand. Like Peter, who thinking he knew better than Jesus takes him aside and rebukes him, I don’t want to hear it! I want to live comfortably and avoid suffering!

But as it is evident earlier in Mark 8, it is in the desolate place that the compassionate Christ satisfies hungry bellies with more than enough food, with leftovers to spare! And it would be through the betrayal, bloody tears, beatings, and the cross that Christ could offer superabounding grace to mankind! He fully believed that the nails that would be driven through his palms and feet were a precursor to joy for the world (Heb 12:2). He must suffer. So must we.

What if I actually believed that my suffering is not God’s accomplice for destroying my life but rather his means of producing immeasurable blessings and spiritual richness? How might I handle my suffering differently if I saw it as the necessary means of bringing me fullness of life and great pleasure? John 15 says it is through the painful act of pruning that the Vinedresser makes the branches more fruitful!

My Prayer

Father God, I rarely understand Your ways, but remind my heart to rejoice in suffering as the sovereign tool that develops greater assurance of Your wonderful love. As the thorns of a budding rose provide protection from its predators, may I gratefully accept the sting of sufferings that safeguard my faith in Christ! May suffering stir my affections for my beautiful Savior, my greatest joy!  




 

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