Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

John 7: 38

 

Jesus is speaking to an audience that understands water. They know just how much it can do for them, and they are very aware of what a lack of it looks like and how that impacts every aspect of life. These people understand water because they live with dryness. Their physical world is semi-arid, their ancestors have told them the story about the years of living in the desert while God provided their food and drink, and the rabbis share with them the rich symbol of spiritual life that water conveys. Now, in these days of foreign rule and after generations of living under the control of man’s interpretation of the Law, life is very dry. The drought has set in and relief seems like nothing more than a dim hope. So here is this man, this carpenter named Jesus, and He is saying mystical things that somehow penetrate through the outer shell of cynicism to reach the hearts of some of those who hear Him.

 

What Christ is talking about here is truly miraculous. He tells us that God desires to meet the most fundamental of all human needs by means of entering into relationship with each of us so that we will be changed from being water consumers into being providers of it to our world. This idea creates a monumental shift in the way that the world functions. In the old economy, water equaled power and control. It was something that was purchased and sold, defended by armies, and handed out by holy men. As John explains, “This He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.” The Spirit of Christ is the transformative agent in the hearts and the minds of people who believe in Christ. The Spirit works in us to change us into people who operate in a manner that is contrary to the laws of nature. Instead of being a well whose resources are depleted over time and with use, we are continually filled with a supply of spiritual life that absolutely defies exhaustion.

 

So, although I believe that all of this is true, the dust clouds still swirl about me and its gritty presence chokes my lungs. Where is all of this miraculous change? Life can seem to be so far disconnected from the promise that Christ brings to us that reality makes accounts such as this one into practical fable. It’s a great story that has nothing to do with where I live. These are times when faith is about all that there is to rely upon. I know that Christ has been faithfully engaged with me throughout my life. It is also true that He desires for His promise of an abundantly changed life to be my experience. So, in times when life feels like the desert has taken up residency in my heart, Christ calls me to Him. He says that he wants me to settle in and to rest with Him for a time. His Spirit speaks as my heart drinks in liquid truth. He breaks away the shell of doubt, fear, and discouragement that I have foolishly built around myself. Now, the new, true self that is filled with Christ’s Spirit can begin to overflow His love into this drought ravaged land.

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