Saturday, July 05, 2008

Cool Water - B. Austin

A ballad from my childhood years has one repeating line: “Cool, clear water.” Since I have never ridden a horse across a desert in the heat of summer (or any other season) the level of thirst that ballad sings of is far beyond my experience. Pure water in abundance is something I have always taken for granted. Even with memories that go back to a hand pump on the porch, the supply was never in question. So when our well began feeding us a discoloured stream with a swampy, churned-mud smell, it seemed like a personal insult. $5,000 later we had a new well and pure water once again. That $5,000 somehow raised the value of this so basic commodity.

Frequently – I am urged to drink more. Up to eight liters of pure water a day are recommended as one of the best nutrients for overall health. I feel waterlogged at less than half that. Yet paradoxically, almost instantly I am conscious of thirst if something cuts off the supply. During a power outage, the water remaining in our pressure system suddenly becomes a hoarded treasure. Flushing toilets drops to a low priority. When a lightning strike destroyed our pump, the prospect of days without water was weighed against a quick shell-out of hard-earned money. The new pump was purchased and installed within hours. Strangely, the first act with the new pump installed was to flush toilets. It is reality that in Canada we use purer water to flush our toilets then most people of the world have to drink. It is reality that most of the time we thoughtlessly squander what may be the greatest natural resource on the globe.

It is not by accident that the Bible uses water over and over as a picture of God’s love. When put in a cultural context, community wells in a nation susceptible to the vagaries of weather, kept water much more on the edge of people’s consciousness. Vast deserts spread little more than a day’s walk from any part of Israel or Judah. Droughts and famines were known to nearly every generation.

The blessings of Deuteronomy 11 included the early and the latter rains. The curses included the heaven’s shut, that there would be no rain. Those blessings and curses were taught to every child as part of the national consciousness. They understood the biblical picture of water in a way that we can only guess at.

I wonder sometimes if I would have a deeper appreciation of who the Holy Spirit is if I had a deeper understanding of thirst. I wonder if “I thirst,” coming from the lips of the Living Water, as He hung on the cross has a deeper significance than I have yet grasped.

Sometimes I suspect my life looks too much like our pump during a hydro outage – everything in place and connected properly, but nothing flowing from the tap.

Frequently – I am urged to go deeper with God. Multiple Bibles can be found in our home, in many translations. I can quote many passages. Yet I never seem to drink of it as deeply as I might. And paradoxically, the one time in my life when for several weeks I could not get hold of a Bible, it was the one book I craved with an intense thirst.

Cool water. It is a fitting picture. And sometimes it is healthy that it doesn’t always flow from the tap. Sometimes I need to be reminded that it is a treasure.


The Sheepcat said...

Thanks, Brian, for this lyrical offering of yours. It seems, if I may say so, to lean out toward but not quite reach a sacramental understanding of how God uses material objects to pour out his grace upon us.

Marci said...

Thanks for once again revealing the cry of your heart Brian. May it be a cry that moves us all to more deeply treasure the living water. Marcia

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