Jeremiah was a young man called by God to declare the Lord’s messages to the people of Israel, who were in a state of apostasy during most of Jeremiah’s ministry. Although they had been faithful to God at one time, the nation as a whole had gone astray by forsaking God in order to serve the pagan gods of the surrounding nations. Standing before the people, Jeremiah cried out to them as follows: "My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water." [Jer 2:13].
In the days when the Israelite nation walked in obedience to the commands and decrees of God, serving and worshiping Him only, the nation was likened to one who drank from a spring of water - not just any water - but living water. Abandoning God and His ways for sin and wickedness, they turned away from that spring of living water and contented themselves with drinking from the polluted, stale waters of a cracked and contaminated man-made cistern.
It’s very easy to point our fingers at the people of ancient Israel, shake our heads, and wonder at their tendency to be so easily duped and deceived. But perhaps we should examine our own lives before God to see if we, too, are guilty of forsaking the spring of living water in order to drink from our own broken cisterns. While we may not burn incense to the pagan gods of other nations, as Israel did in Jeremiah’s day, are there idols of another sort living in our hearts which we have put before God? An idol is anything that we love more than God, pursue more than God, or put before God in our hearts. It doesn’t have to be an image; it can be a priority, a goal, a desire, or anything else that consumes our heart, mind, and soul.
My upstairs neighbor is a computer game fanatic. He sleeps, eats, goes to work, and plays computer games. He has no friends. Every single waking moment of his life outside of work is spent playing computer games at home. He spends at least 10-11 hours a day on his computer playing games. This man has found his ‘god.’ Before we shake our heads in pity for this poor man who has no life apart from his keyboard, we need to examine our own lives closely before God. What is it that fills our days? What it is that consumes our heart, mind, soul, and time day in and day out? Our career? Our children? Education? Golf, television, or other recreational pursuits?
Tragically, many who identify themselves as Christians in the United States, have also forsaken the spring of living water in order to drink from the broken, man-made cisterns of this world. The Lord doesn’t fill their lives; other things do. God doesn’t have all of their heart; other things do. If I, as a believer in Christ, only think of Him for 60 minutes while sitting at Mass, yet have no thoughts of Him or desire for Him during the rest of the week, I have not yet come to understand what it means to love the Lord with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. If Christ isn’t the center of my life, my reason for living and being, I have not come to understand what it means to follow Him.
Whether we want to accept this truth or not, God’s goal for each of our lives is to bring us to a place of absolute nothingness so that we will recognize that all we have of value in this life is Him and Him alone. He wants to be in total control of our lives. He wants us to die to our own dreams, plans, goals, and ambitions so that He will be free to have His way in our lives. He wants to bring each of us to the place where everything we live for, desire, and long for is seated with Him in Heaven at His right hand. He wants us to die completely to this world and everything it has to offer in order to pursue Him and what He has to offer.
What is it that fills our lives? Who or what are we living for? How do we spend our free time? Our answers to these three questions will show whether we are drinking from the spring of living water or from the polluted, broken cistern of this world.
There was a time in my life when I lived completely for self even though I attended Mass week after week. While sitting at Mass, listening to the Word, my thoughts were on Christ. But during the rest of the week, I was preoccupied with work, parties, boyfriends, new clothes, money, and the things which money can buy. God couldn’t have been any farther from my heart or my thoughts in those days. I called myself a Christian; yet, I drank continually from the broken cistern of this world day in and day out. I desired those stale, polluted waters because I didn’t know that there was another Source, a better Source, from which I could be sustained. I didn’t realize that there was a better life which God was holding out to me.
When I grew older, the Lord began to draw me into a closer walk with Him. From out of nowhere, a hunger and thirst for spiritual knowledge began to well up within me. I found myself reading the Bible, praying, and listening to gospel music. What in the world was happening to me? God the Father was drawing me to His Son. Long ago, when teaching His disciples, Christ uttered the following words: "No man can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him." Although we may have been raised in the Christian faith all of our lives, I believe that there is a time in our individual lives when God the Father draws us into a closer, deeper walk with His Son. A spiritual awakening takes place. We begin to finally ‘get it.’ Life isn’t about us; it’s about God. It’s up to us, however, to be sensitive to that drawing and to respond to it. Many sense that supernatural drawing, but are afraid to break away from the broken cisterns of this world from which they have always drank. They’re afraid to make changes in their lifestyle. They’re afraid to give certain things up. But we must be willing to let go of this world completely if we are ever going to be all that God has called us to be. We must be willing to walk away from the broken cisterns held out to us by this world if we are ever going to learn how to drink from the spring of living water, held out to us by Christ.
I do not believe that it is possible for a person to be completely happy, fulfilled, and satisfied in this life if he or she is living for anything other than God. God wants to fill our lives; He doesn’t want to be a mere part of it. He wants our lives to be completely centered around Him and His will for our lives. The cisterns that this world holds out to us are cracked and broken. They cannot hold water. They cannot satisfy. When we drink from these cisterns, we only end up thirsting again, for there is nothing in this world which can truly fill a heart that was created for Christ.
May God give us the grace to respond to His drawing in our lives, that we may turn from the polluted, broken cisterns of this world in order to draw from Christ, the spring of living water. For those who drink from this Spring...
...will never thirst again.
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