“…Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. .”
John 7: 37b-39a
In the last months it has become clear how stretched many people feel. We are in a new dynamic of life, we are continually adjusting, change appears to be a norm and many feel worn out mentally and emotionally. Let me give three illustrations for encouragement:
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 to 1153, a Burgundian Abbot), writes, “If then you are wise, you will show yourself a reservoir than as a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water. In the Church at the present day, we have too many canals, few reservoirs,” In life, and in our current circumstances, it is all too easy to continually give out, without receiving, without being replenished. Living in this manner fits the description of a canal in the Bernard quote. The counsel is to become a reservoir. How?
In the second illustration consider the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. The former has the river of Jordan flowing in and flowing out of its body. Life teems within its fresh waters. The Dead Sea has no such flow, its waters are still, they become stagnant in places and there is no life. I have had the privilege of visiting and swimming in both bodies of waters and attest to the truth of this illustration. For life and freshness water has to flow in and out.
In the third illustration Jesus tells us that if we believe in Him by God’s Grace and in our faith the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us. Our hearts become His reservoir. For life and freshness though we need to receive not just give out. Many of us, as God’s Children, in our western culture find affirmation in what we do, and we simply continually do. Tiredness and burn out can easily occur. We need to be still before our Lord on a daily basis and receive from Him. We need to allow the reservoir of our hearts to be filled with His love, truth and grace as we worship Him. The Holy Spirit can then flow out from us to others, truly blessing them with the waters of life.
Permit me to close with a fourth illustration. If our hearts are reservoirs they need to be filled with living waters. We may often help fill another’s heart with a drop of living water when we love, speak, help and witness. Very occasionally we may have the privilege of being used by God to put the final drop in another’s heart as they come to faith. Whether we are part of the topping up process or have the privilege of seeing their heart filled let us never give up on sharing these living waters.
To Ponder: Do you see yourself as a canal or reservoir? How might you allow God to fill your heart with His living waters?
Pray: Lord Jesus come and waken our souls. Help us to worship with all our strength and in that place of grace may your Holy Spirit, O Living God, come and fall afresh on us. Come and wake us from our sleep, blow through the caverns of our souls and pour in us your living waters so they overflow and give life to others. To your glory O Lord. Amen
(Adapted from Fall Afresh)
Praise: Gracious Spirit, Heavenly Dove sung by St. Aidan’s
Holy Water, We the Kingdom
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.