Broken Cisterns ...
Sometimes, we look around and think that the world is in a bad way. We may look around us and ask, ‘has the world ever been as bad as this?’. Killing, hatred, division, poverty seem rife everywhere we look and it can be easy to get depressed. It can seem like there is nowhere to turn for relief. There is, however, nothing new about these feelings, or even the situations that cause us to feel this way. The people of God, during the time of Jeremiah, had been through a lot. They had suffered attacks, division, grinding poverty and hatred … sound familiar? And they had looked for relief, just not quite in the right place;
“For My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water,” - Jeremiah 2:13
The people, in pain and despair, had turned to;
Idols that provided comfort, but no real value were everywhere being worshiped (Jeremiah 2:20ff, 7:18, etc.)
Promises from neighbours of peace
Political and religious leaders who said they could solve all of their problems, who were the only ones who could speak for all of the people (Jeremiah 1:17-19; 2:7-9, 25-27; 5:30-31)
... And none of these things gave them the things in life that they wanted; peace, security, rest, and life.
Living in this world can feel like walking through a desert sometimes. We look around for relief when we’re walking through this desert so that we can make it, keep on walking and survive.
During the time of Jeremiah there were holes dug in the desert that would catch rainwater and would be sealed with lime plaster in order to be waterproof. Some of these were extremely simple and found all over the Middle East. Some are more grandiose, but the basic ideas are the same. If the seal holds and the water inside these cisterns remained clean then they were a huge relief to a traveller through the desert. Picture walking through the desert, stumbling for hours through heat and pain, hunger and loneliness, the bitter sun beating down upon you and then, through some miracle, you come upon a cistern, a hole with clean water, fresh; a new life, just when you thought your life was over, too unbearable to continue.
Feels like we could use a cistern just now. Pain, evil, stress, trouble, political and religious leaders promising to be our voice, solve all of our problems; sound familiar? Some days walking through this life can feel like walking through a desert. Yet, often we are the ones who have swapped God for nice, comfortable idols; cars, jobs, homes, politics, ‘messiahs’, all of these things that never quite pan out. We are comfortable, but unsatisfied.
Feels like we could use more than a cistern, feels like we could use some Living Water…
The world is a hard place, it always has been. But, a fresh cistern in the desert would make it a lot better. We are called to be water, to be cisterns, to step out for God. And we have been called to do big things; support kids through school who have nothing and nobody else; feed the hungry in your town, house the homeless in your town, help those have nothing, have less so that others may have some, tell them about God’s love. Then do the small, a smile, a bigger tip, a note, a prayer, do the every day and tell them about God.
Water the world and change it. And when you get tired and cracks start to show in your cistern, drink from the Living Water. Don’t turn to some impostor ‘messiah’, don’t turn to comfort in an idol, some job or car, but turn to God Himself. And then go back out and water, change the world in big ways and small ways. We are called to be water in this world because that is who God is and that is who His people are; so let us leave the broken cisterns we rush towards and go out and act like God for the world.