Longtime residents of our city still remember the “Snowstorm of ’93,” when a severe overnight snowstorm dumped more than two feet of snow across much of our region. Frigid temperatures kept the snow from melting for days. With many of the local roads traversing rolling hills, transportation was almost impossible for anyone without four-wheel drive or all-terrain vehicles.
Power lines fell in many areas, knocking out power. Sub-freezing temperatures, combined with the snow and ice, turned even commonplace sights into the proverbial “winter wonderland.” One of the serious consequences was the loss of water for many residents. The simple acts of drawing water from a faucet, or flushing a toilet, became impossible until power could be restored to thaw frozen pipes.
|For many of us, easy accessibility of|
water leads us to take it for granted.
This hardship, however, came into perspective later as we pondered the plight of many that live in Third World countries. The idea of a “water company” for people in those nations is unheard of. It’s not unusual for men and women to walk for hours to retrieve small amounts of water, and even then there are no guarantees against impure, unsanitary water.
So the interruption in water service we experienced in 1993 was little more than a very temporary glimpse into the reality that countless millions of people around the world endure on a daily basis. It’s so easy to take water for granted. But it’s essential for life, and we dearly miss it when we don’t have access to it.
But this isn’t the only kind of water we desperately need. The Scriptures speak of it often, in both the Old and New Testaments. As the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, we read in Genesis 17 that they complained to their leader Moses about the lack of water. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” they cried out. God miraculously provided water for the huge throng by directing Moses to strike a specific rock with his staff.
But this was no ordinary rock. It’s explained in 1 Corinthians 10:3-4, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." This isn’t the only time, however, that Jesus is associated with life-giving water. Several times He used the term for Himself.
Passing through the town of Sychar in Samaria one day, Jesus encountered a disreputable woman who had come in the heat of the day to draw water from an ancient well. When Jesus unexpectedly asked the woman for a drink of water, she replied, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (John 4:9). She posed this question because in those days, Jews did not associate with Samaritans, and for a man even to address a woman like her was totally against cultural mores.
Jesus responded, “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" (John 4:10). Then, referring to the well’s water, He added, “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” (John 4:13-14).
Later, on the final day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus made a similar reference. In rebuking the chief priests and Pharisees who so vehemently opposed Him, He declared, “'Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (John 7:38-39).
We’re presently in the middle of winter, often huddled in near-hibernation in our heated homes. But soon warm weather will return and we’ll resume outdoor activities, sometimes working up a sweat and building up a thirst. At those times we’ll be eager to grab a bottle of water, or find the nearest water fountain.
I wonder: Do we have such a thirst for the Living Water, the same eagerness to drink from what we could term the Fountain of Life, about which Jesus declared, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst…will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”? Do we, as He expressed it, "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6)?