Tag Archives: Water

Dead Sea to Living Water

israel floating in the Dead Sea cropped

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.
Ezekiel 47:8-9 (NIV)

The Dead Sea is one of the more amazing places I’ve visited in this world. Located in the desert southeast of Jerusalem, it is the Earth’s lowest elevation on land and the water is 34 percent salt which is almost 10 times as much salt as you find in the oceans. The saline content is so high, in fact, that you float on the surface which is a surreal experience. It’s hard to stand upright in the lake if the water gets much higher than your waist.

Because of the salt content, the “Dead Sea” is aptly named. Nothing lives in it. It is too salty to sustain life. Which provides context for the remarkable vision the ancient Hebrew prophet, Ezekiel, is given in today’s chapter. His heavenly host shows him a small stream of water flowing out of God’s temple in Jerusalem. The waters grow as the stream descends from its Source until it is a giant river. The river flows downstream to the Dead Sea and floods it with Life.

I am reminded this morning of Jesus’ conversation with a woman by a well. Striking up a conversation, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water…Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jesus spoke of a personal, spiritual transformation that parallel’s Ezekiel’s vision of the Dead Sea. A flowing transfusion of living water that brings Life where there had previously been death.

Water and Life go hand in hand. We need water to physically survive. We need living water to spiritually survive. Without it, we become as spiritually lifeless as the Dead Sea. When tapped into the Source, we experience Life that wells up in our spirits and resurrects lifeless parts of our soul.

Today, I’m thankful for experiencing the Dead Sea. I’m thankful for the Water of Life. I’m praying for a deep draught from the Source and an infusion of life.

Sewage and the Source

Septic Tank: Illustration shows how an undergr...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wickedness never brings stability,
    but the godly have deep roots.
Proverbs 12:3 (NLT)

A few weeks ago, Wendy and I had five dead oak trees cut down near our lake home. Add to that total the three dead oak trees we had to cut down last year. When we updated our family’s lake property a few years ago there was a small forest between the house and the shoreline, and the trees gave shade to the Playhouse each summer. Now, the trees are gone along with the shade they provided. I have to admit I’m a little saddened by this and was a little confused why we lost the trees so quickly. When Jason came from the tree service to give me an estimate for cutting down the trees this spring, I asked the arborist what the problem could be and what we could do to replace them.

Jason quickly pointed out the problem with our dead trees and the reason it will nearly be impossible to replace them. As part of our renovation of the property, we added a new septic system which introduced a sprawling leach field across our yard and between the trees. Sewage from our home goes through a system of treatment tanks and then is leeched out across our lawn through a system of buried sewage lines that zig-zag in a snake like fashion across our lawn.

The feeder roots for trees like our oaks, Jason explained, are between ten and eighteen inches below the surface of the ground. When we introduced the sewage lines and their easy, shallow diet of moisture and nutrients, the trees quickly become dependent on feeding off the leach lines. The network of roots that would typically dig deep into the ground to get food and moisture in times of drought tend to go dormant because they aren’t needed. Then, a time of drought comes. Fall and winter arrive when no one is at the lake house using the septic system. The leach field isn’t spreading its sewage. The trees are shocked by the sudden change. There is no longer an easy meal for the shallow feeder roots and the deep roots are no longer doing their job. The tree can’t make the adjustment and dies.

What an amazing word picture. I thought of our trees when I read the proverb above from today’s chapter. How easy it is to feed on the shit this world seeps into the shallows of our lives. Momentary highs, thin pursuits, fast food and intoxicating distractions that offer a quick fix to feed the emptiness in our souls. All the time, our roots aren’t digging deep. We never seek after the life giving springs that lay buried deep below the surface.

The further I get in my life journey, the more I feel a need for my roots to go deeper. I want to tap into the deep wells of God’s living water. But in order to do that, I have to abandon the leach lines I’ve fed from for so long and choose to go deep. I must direct my time, energy and resources to the slow, arduous, often boring discipline of digging, and reaching, and seeking out the Source. When drought comes, and it always comes eventually, I want the roots of my life tapped into that which will sustain me.

Chapter-a-Day John 4

Ha Ha Tonka State Park
Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Photo credit: Darin House)

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (NLT)

On Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, a nice long boat ride from our Playhouse, you’ll find Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It’s an annual summer destination for us. Park the boat at the dock and walk down the winding path along the banks of the cove. Deeper and deeper it goes as the cove narrows. Eventually, you arrive at a natural spring where water continuously flows from deep inside the Earth. I’ve stood there many times watching as water ceaselessly flows from that spot, seemingly out of nowhere.

Today, as I read Jesus’ words I thought about that spring in the Ozarks and all the water ceaselessly bubbling out of it. We call it a “source.” The place from which water flows. What Jesus told the woman at the well in today’s chapter was that He was the Source of Life-giving, spiritual thirst quenching, eternal flow.

What is the Source of flow in my daily life? That’s the question I’m asking myself today. Where is it that I seek after energy, acceptance, peace, esteem, provision, healing, or anesthetic? Am I seeking after the Source in a bottle, a relationship, a walk-in closet, a paycheck, a gadget, a job, or a jackpot? It’s interesting how Jesus contrasted the water the woman wanted to give Him with the flow about which He was speaking.

You know you’re seeking after the wrong source if after a taste it always leaves you thirsty and seeking for more.

Chapter-a-Day Numbers 20

There was no water there for the community, so they ganged up on Moses and Aaron. Numbers 20:2 (MSG)

I am so spoiled with the basic necessities of life. Water is a staple. Water is everywhere. I flush without thinking about the luxury of having running sewers. I wash my face, shower myself, and wash my dishes without even thinking about it. I can even water my lawn and have the luxury of spurning the water in the tap to drink a bottle of “better” water.

For ten days in 1993, the Des Moines area was without water as floods overtook the Water Works. I remember living in an apartment with two young children. Ten days without showering. Ten days without flushing. Ten days of filling jugs at water stations and hauling them back home to cook and bathe. Ten days is nothing. Ten Days is a blip on the time line. But, we still talk about it like we were martyrs. How quickly people grumble when you take away a basic necessity of life. Ask Moses and Aaron. They know.

Around the world, millions of people live without access to clean water every day. In fact, in Africa alone more people than the entire population of the U.S. are without this basic necessity. For the last several years, Wendy and I have supported Blood:Water Mission, whose goal is to help communities in Africa dig wells so that they can simply have clean water.

Today, when I shower, wash, and drink, I’m going to think of the people of Israel who grumbled as they ran out of water wandering in the wilderness of northeast Africa. I’m going to think of the millions of people in that continent and around the world who can still grumble these many thousands of years later.

Chapter-a-Day Jeremiah 41

Ishmael’s reason for dumping the bodies into a cistern was to cover up the earlier murder of Gedaliah. Jeremiah 41:9a (MSG)

In my study group, we’ve been utilizing an exercise called Morning Pages. It’s really simple. First thing, when you get up in the morning, write three pages long hand. Just write whatever comes to your mind. Keep the pen on the paper and keep writing. Don’t think. Don’t filter. Don’t stop. Just write.

One of the men in my group commented that the first time he’d done this study, when he first used this exercise, he was shocked at what came out in his Morning Pages. I understood. In my own experience of doing Morning Pages over the years, I’ve experienced the same thing. We are often unaware of what we have stuffed in the cracks and corners of our soul.

Our souls are deep cisterns. Over time, like Ishmael, we throw a lot of nasty stuff in. Then we pile stuff on top to hide the stench and cover it up. Eventually, it gets piled so deep that the flow of living water gets stopped up. Maybe there’s something seeping to the surface, but there’s definitely not a steady flow from the source. Sometimes our well clogs completely. It dries up. Morning Pages is an exercise that purges the soul and helps return the flow.

Jesus said “repent and be baptized.” What a great word picture. Purge yourself of the rotting, dead stuff in your soul, then plunge yourself into living water so that your well is filled. It’s not a momentary event, but a life long process.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and crazyfarmer

Out in the Moonlight All Alone

It was a gorgeous, full moon last night. The cool evening was calm and the lake was like a sheet of glass. After a wonderful, late dinner Wendy and I got in the boat, set the throttle to just above idle speed and took a slow moonlight cruise around the lake. We were the only boat on the lake. The moonlight illuminated the hills and the hundreds of dock lights decorated the shoreline in a romantic, blue string.

The seasons they are turnin’ and my sad heart is yearnin’
To hear again the songbird’s sweet melodious tone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The dusky light, the day is losing, Orchids, Poppies, Black-eyed Susan
The earth and sky that melts with flesh and bone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The air is thick and heavy all along the levy
Where the geese into the countryside have flown
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
Well, I’m preachin’ peace and harmony
The blessings of tranquility
Yet I know when the time is right to strike
I’ll take you cross the river dear
You’ve no need to linger here
I know the kinds of things you like
The clouds are turnin’ crimson–the leaves fall from the limbs an’
The branches cast their shadows over stone
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The boulevards of cypress trees, the masquerades of birds and bees
The petals, pink and white, the wind has blown
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
The trailing moss and mystic glow
Purple blossoms soft as snow
My tears keep flowing to the sea
Doctor, lawyer, Indian chief
It takes a thief to catch a thief
For whom does the bell toll for, love? It tolls for you and me
My pulse is runnin’ through my palm–the sharp hills are rising from
The yellow fields with twisted oaks that groan
Won’t you meet me out in the moonlight alone?
– “Moonlight” by Bob Dylan
Photo by Tom Vander Well

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 3

Taken for granted. [God's] withdrawing police and protection, judges and courts, pastors and teachers, captains and generals, doctors and nurses, and, yes, even the repairmen and jacks-of-all-trades. Isaiah 3:1b-2 (MSG)

In 1993, massive spring floods deluged downtown Des Moines. The Des Moines Water Works was under water and my family was among over 100,000 people who experienced life without the blessing and convenience of water. Life was radically different without fresh water right from tap with which to cook, clean, shower and use the toilet. Ten days without water, which I previously taken for granted, was an eye opener.

Think for a moment of all the things we take for granted. Contemplate all of the things that make up the unconscious infrastructure of our day. Clean water fresh from the tap. Clean bathrooms and toilet paper. Heat in the winter. Air Conditining in the summer. Access to transportation. Stocked grocery stores. Waste removal. Meditate on the unseen throng of professionals on whom you depend from civil utilities to business to law enforcement to health professionals. Imagine all of those daily support systems breaking down and disappearing.

The verse above reminds me today that one of the ways God brought judgment was the simple peeling away of societal support systems. I don't want to take for granted all that God has blessed me with. I'm mindful and grateful for the people and systems that support my daily existence. I don't even want to imagine what would my life would be like if they were suddenly stripped away.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and pinksherbet