In the book of John there is a popular account of a conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well. In it Jesus makes introduces himself as the one who provides living water, water that can quench ones thirst forever.
Last week I was given a new perspective on water. You see, growing up in America getting a glass of water was as simple as a short walk to the tap. Sure I have felt thirsty, but that was only because I was too preoccupied with other things to remember to drink a little water. As far as water quality, my biggest concern was whether or not it had a funny taste. I never worried about getting sick. I grew up in the minority.
For many people all over the world, finding water and food for the day is their biggest concern. You have probably heard the stories, seen the pictures, and read the statistics, but have you ever let the reality change you?
On Wednesday, I traveled to the town of Laisamis with a couple friends to survey a site for drilling a borehole. I am helping a friend in the U.S. with the fieldwork. Laisamis is in the middle of the desert, and from the town we drove out to the village of Trikamo (tree-ka-moe) to a site designated by a local pastor and the town water engineer.
We listened to how there had only been 2 rain storms so far this year and both were back in February (It is now August). The first rainy season is just wrapping up for the rest of the country and here they can show you on one hand how many times it has rained. They said maybe they will get a little more in November.
Let that sink in for a moment. 2 tiny rains all year, temperatures are constantly over a hundred degrees, and you have a family who needs water every day with no exceptions. Where are you going to get it? In modern times we are digging more and more wells, but from reports, many of the wells in the area are too high in salt content for human consumption.
If you are not near one of the good wells, like the people of Trikamo, you have to walk to the dry riverbed and look for a certain plant that shows the presence of underground moisture. Then you dig. How long do you dig for? It doesn’t really matter. You have no choice but to find water or your family dies. During good times water may only be a few feet below the surface, but when times are dry you may have to dig down 5, 6, even more than 10 feet just for a few cups of filthy water.
You will do this every day for the rest of your life. When the water is exhausted in one area you move on to the next. As more and more areas dry up, you have to travel farther and dig deeper and deeper. You also start praying harder and harder that the rains will come. It is hard but it is the only life you know and what you know is that water is everything.
So let’s go back to the Samaritan woman and Jesus. Imagine being that woman, walking who knows how far to that well every day to collect water. I am sure she is unimaginably grateful for the well, because she knows how difficult water would be to get without it. Even with the well, water is heavy and backbreaking work to carry home. I can imagine that the well would have gone dry at times during periods of drought and I am sure she has experienced great struggles to find water on long journeys, just as Jesus needed water that day from his journey.
So here you are, the Samaritan woman, struggling every day for water and a stranger walks up to you and asks for help with a drink. Then he tells you that he can give you living water where you will never be thirsty ever again. It may sound as mythical as the fountain of youth but you have to know more. If he is telling the truth then he knows one of the greatest secrets ever known.
Jesus’s words were like telling the woman she will never have to work another second again. One of her greatest sources of worry would be eliminated in a moment. Think about how these get rich quick schemes tug out our thoughts. Think about how much the idea of freedom from work persists in modern society in advertisements, movie plots, the lottery. It is everywhere, and this is what Jesus is claiming in his statement.
The amazing thing is that Jesus can actually provide what he promised. Not some magical elixir, but eternal, spiritual satisfaction. You see if we are truly honest with ourselves, everyone longs for something more than this life. Our souls groan within us for the truth and purpose in life.
Just like the people of Trikamo and their never ending quest for water, we all are on a journey to satisfy our souls. Some turn to relationships. Others seek adrenaline. Many today are leaning on science for purpose, but in these things there is always heartache, always a need for the next high, or always an unanswered question. They leave you digging deeper and deeper in search of just a little relief.
God as our creator is the only one with all the answers, and as a solution to our thirsty souls he gave his son, Jesus. Jesus will never let us down, he always satisfies, and he teaches us what we need to know. Jesus, the provider of living water, is the only one who can provide a lasting solution, and he offers salvation freely to anyone who will believe.