Mountain walks provide soul nourishment I never fully appreciated until I lived life surrounded by the noise of dense population. Exploring and listening to the myriad sounds of silence lifts my soul. On one such walk, I stumbled upon an interesting contraption to gather rain water and irrigate a small plot of land. I snapped a picture and filed it away, not knowing for what I wanted to use it.
Fast forward 6 months and here I sit, thinking of that picture. This image of a cistern captures my attention again. Cisterns hold finite, defined amounts of water to sustain life. Someone rigged this one to fill by itself but in general, cisterns require significant labor to fill because water weighs a ton. Cisterns lose their effectiveness quickly. Water left a few days becomes stale. Containers break and they run out when drought arrives. With cisterns, one knows how much water one possesses, making it easier and practical to divvy out and a source of fear as water runs low. Rationing is reasonable and necessary with a cistern.
6 months after taking this shot I see what I missed then. So often I live life as though my sustenance comes from a cistern. A limited, contained, quickly stale, rationed source. A fearfully fragile pot that I fill myself through much hardship. Water weighs a ton. My spiritual life feels like hard work and I decide on my portions. I ration my efforts based on how much water I see in the container and the labor I know it takes to replace it. Exhausting.
So when Jesus speaks of a spring bubbling up, my ears prick. Springs produce water through no effort. They spill water all around for anyone to gather. Their limitless supply confounds the mind as the source stays mysteriously buried underground. Springs clean themselves and never sit to stale. Rationing? Impossible and unneccesary. Drought may come but the spring reaches farther down to draw up water. Fear subsides as I see Jesus, the fountain of living water.
As I contemplated the cistern spiritual life I’m prone to lead or the spring-fed life Jesus offers, I want to throw down my heavy buckets and come to Him. I search for ways I ration my outpouring–and the Lord reveals many–and gather with others at the spring for my daily drink. The spring always bubbles up and I rest, quenched.
What differences do you see between a cistern and a spring?