I’ve been thinking about water the past few days. During my holiday travels I saw a lot of rain and a fair amount of snow. While driving to Florida and back we also saw many rivers and lakes. I suppose anyone living outside of a desert sees water in some form or fashion on a regular basis. It is certainly a very important part of our lives and a vital part of nature. Leonardo Da Vinci once said “Water is the driving force of nature.” In addition to being crucial to our existence there is something special about water. The famous anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, once wrote “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” Water brings us both life and enjoyment. It truly is one of God’s greatest gifts.
In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John there is a story recorded of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well in Sychar. In his conversation with this woman Jesus asked her for a drink of water. When she raised questions about the appropriateness of this request 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.” The woman was confused by Jesus’ words. She didn’t understand what he meant by “living water” so he added, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
It is not hard to see how water is a metaphor for life in both nature and the spiritual realm. It would seem to me that just as water is essential for our physical well-being Christ is essential to our spiritual well-being. In fact, I cannot experience life in its fullness apart from him. When Jesus speaks of “eternal life” he is not just talking about life after death; he is referring to something we experience here and now. It is the “abundant life” he spoke of elsewhere. (John 10:10) That “life” is only possible when we receive the “living water, the life, Christ offers us.
Hopefully when we see it rain or notice the various bodies of water we encounter day by day we can remember our need for “living water.” Apparently this is something the Scottish author, poet and minister, George MacDonald recognized. He once wrote: “There is no water in oxygen, no water in hydrogen: it comes bubbling fresh from the imagination of the living God, rushing from under the great white throne of the glacier. The very thought of it makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyze. The water itself, that dances, and sings, and slakes the wonderful thirst–symbol and picture of that draught for which the woman of Samaria made her prayer to Jesus–this lovely thing itself, whose very wetness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its embrace–this live thing which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea, babbling along my table–this water is its own self, its own truth, and is therein a truth of God.” Hopefully, we, too, can learn to let the water we see, drink, swim and bathe in be a perpetual reminder of the “truth of God” and of our constant need for Christ.
(I took the top picture at Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the middle image at Jenny Wiley State Park in Kentucky, and the bottom one in Tennessee at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.)