Ever get that feeling that you’re running on empty? That you’re forever dredging up energy just to get through the next day, hour, meeting, pile of ironing, Sunday morning service…
Do you feel with the Psalmist that "your cup runneth over"?
Runneth over! My cup is empty!
My fuel light has been on for some time and I’m eking out as many miles as I can cos I can’t see a fuel station anywhere. I keep sticking stuff in the tank – friendship, coffee, bible reading, work, sex life, drink, TV, gaming, church, prayer, outdoor pursuits – but they aren’t enough to fill the tank and they drain quick. And seem to be draining quicker and quicker as the days and years go by. Seems no matter how much I put in, it’s never enough.
Something is not right. This is not the life I envisaged living.
Where is the abundance? Jn 10 v 10 ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’
Where is the life? Where is this fullness?
Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns [wells],
broken cisterns [wells] that cannot hold water.”
Ever get that feeling that you’re running on empty? That you’re forever striving to eke out enough life-fuel from your spouse, your kids, your work, your hobby, your friends, your do-gooding…and it never seems enough.
None of those things seem to satisfy deeply and the more pressure I put on them to come through for me the more they seem to crack under the pressure…
Well, well, well… you’ve been busy digging. Digging your own well and then filling it with a whole lot of stuff that looks like water-for-the-soul but was never designed to be that. And some stuff that most definitely could not be classed as water-for-the-soul but at the time feels good, although after feels not-good and often times brings truckloads of guilt and shame with it (drunkenness, pornography, gossip, adultery, drugs,______ fill the space)
A sure sign that we all have addictive personalities is the degree to which we rely on other stuff, some of it really GOOD healthy stuff (family, friends, work, church, prayer, bible study, hobbies, sport etc.), to make life work. The more we rely on it, the more we need. It is a vicious cycle which leaves us depleted. The stuff was never designed to meet the deepest longings of our hearts (Is 55v 1-2; Ps 143 v 6; Ps 42 v 1-2).
Unmet deep longing for relationship with God is a POWERFUL motivator. To the degree we don’t look to God to meet the deepest longings of our hearts then to that degree there is pain going in in our personalities. In our striving to numb the pain, we will DEMAND that others or other things meet our needs. They can’t. They simply can’t. They were never meant to, or made to.
‘and have dug their own cisterns [wells],
broken cisterns [wells] that cannot hold water’
It’s my well – I control it (The Fallacy of Control – future blog idea!)
It’s broken – cannot satisfy, but that won’t stop me!
It drives me – it rules me, if I want to say I’m under the King then I have a problem.
We are born into a world at war – spiritual war – and into a life where we all have the virus of independence from God.
We would rather go thirsty (except we wouldn’t – paradox) or drink from our own well than depend on God – it’s that ingrained and deep-rooted in us.
That’s running on empty. Deficit motivation is acting out of what I lack.
It ends when we turn back to God.
My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
Do a little exercise with me.
Close your eyes and see your life. (Mind’s eye so you can keep reading!)
See the well you’ve dug. See the broken shovels littered around. Scuff up the dust of the parched land at your feet. See the people you’ve dragged here to be with you. Look at their faces and see the effect your demandingness has had on them. Look at some of the crap you’ve thrown in your dried up watering hole – hours of TV, bottles of Prosecco, stacks of books, climbing gear, years of diligent church attendance- some of it calls to you even now, promising life, a taste of life. But you know its empty. You’ve been down that road before, you know where it leads, you feel the dryness and disappointment waiting at the other end. Where is life to be found? You look around desperately searching for something and in the dusty distance you notice a hardened path that leads to your feet. It is the path you trod to get here. It’s long, but you’re thirsty for life so you follow it. It doesn’t seem long that the path which seemed so eternal wanders into a lush field of tall grass. The grass is swaying in the warm and gentle breeze. Fresh scents waft in and fill your senses with a promise of new life. The grass grows greener, more vibrant and bursting with goodness every step that you take. You long to run in it, to roll, to laugh, to cry, to scream and shout. To lose yourself in childish delight. But the hard bare earth at your feet – your path – runs between splintering fence posts linked with miles of narrowly-spaced, rusty barbed wire.
Your heart yearns to be in the fields. It aches so painfully tears well up in your eyes. You close them. Tears spill down your cheeks.
Hear the bubbling of a natural spring. As you focus on that sound it grows louder with every passing moment. Not just on the left of the path but the right too. In fact as you allow the noise to soak in and saturate your mind – your heart – it is coming from all around you. As you allow your senses some freedom you feel the coolness of the natural spring water running over your feet.
You open your eyes and the fence is gone.
The path is gone.
There’s just you in the middle of the field, hands stretched out feeling the sway of the grass, breeze blowing beautifully on your cheeks, water cool on your feet and ankles, the sound bubbling in your soul.
You stoop and scoop up some water, refreshing your dusty face with it. Oh, how refreshing it is, better than a hot, lemon towel on a long haul flight – it washes away the long haul years of your life to this moment.
You hear an inviting voice which says, “Come, drink.” You quench your thirst with it – you feel its power revitalising every part of your body right to your marrow.
Tears of grief over lost years, lost relationships, loss, stream down your face, intermingled with tears of joy at the overpowering sense of life which at last is filling your soul and spirit from within.
OPEN YOUR EYES.
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Jn 7 v 37 – 38
In John 4 v 13 – 14 he said:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
In chapter 10 of Prince Caspian, Lucy realises that she has not followed Aslan as she should have done. She let herself and the others walk a long, wrong path because she was afraid, all the while knowing it was the wrong way to go. When she finally comes back to Aslan she knows what she must do and feels afraid again. She buries her face in his mane (like standing in the Spring Water):
‘Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her…”Now you are a lioness,” said Aslan. “And now all Narnia will be renewed.”
Friends. Brothers and sisters. This life is open for you to take hold of. Walk back to it. The journey is not long or arduous because God has promised that those who seek, find; those who ask, receive. He promises in Acts 17 v 27 that he is not far from any one of us “God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”
We have all turned to false comforters. We have all misplaced our dependency on other people or things (sometimes it is ever so subtle). We all need to see within us the drive for independence from God for life and realise that people and stuff do not hold true life. Not deep-spiritual-thirst-quenching-life.
Turn to God, feel his strength, ‘lion-strength’, drink deeply (quaff greedily) at the Spring of Living Water and now YOU are a lion/ lioness and all your life will be renewed.
Free to not demand others or things come through for you. Free to live joy-filled life enjoying all that God has placed in your life. Looking around you at the lush valley in which you stand and in which your life is based. All your things are still there, your desires, your work, your family, your friends, your bible study, your prayer life, your church, your good deeds – only now you are not demanding life from them – you are offering it to them from a place of surplus motivation.
Your cup truly runneth over…you are filled with the other-centred love of the trinity.
You are you, but increasingly whole and holy.
Keep turning back to that spring, every time you feel your feet and heart wandering back to those false idols of your past.
STOP. TURN. WALK. REPENT. DRINK DEEPLY. LIVE.