Do you ever feel like the word dry, or maybe barren, might be an appropriate characterization of various aspects of your life — spiritual, social, emotional, vocational…need I go on? Disappointments and losses that leave gaping holes in our lives, unfulfilled longings and desires that leave us feeling empty, a deep weariness of body and soul that can arise from constantly feeling unsettled and restless, failures from which we feel we can never recover — all can contribute to experiencing a sense of disillusionment and discouragement.
We search for a sign of life in the midst of times like these.
Where is God?
Where are those springs of living water?
Scripture can certainly be a source of that living water, bringing us encouragement, comfort, and reassurance. I came across a verse last week that did this for me but in a rather surprising way!
Psalm 105 recounts the wondrous works of the Lord on behalf of his people. The psalm narrates highlights of Israel’s history and how the Lord had been present to them on their journey. Verse 41, referring to a point following their escape from Egypt while they were in the wilderness, contains a marvelous description of the Lord’s provision: “He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river.”
What an amazing picture of hope! In the midst of a barren desert, seemingly devoid of water, the Lord opens the rock. From a completely unexpected source comes life-giving water. And not just a trickle of water, but a river…a gushing river. He meets the Israelites’ need with abundance; he fulfills their longings and gives them hope. And this reminder of who our God is brings me hope as well.
But then came the surprise! I sensed the Lord asking me a question: “Joy, will you be the rock? I know there are a lot of dry places in your life right now. But will you open yourself up to me so that I can make you a source of a gushing river of my love that will flow out to others through you?”
Frankly, I was a little stunned. The question felt like it came out of left field…so startling.
You see, I was wanting the Lord to fulfill my yearnings for life by having his springs of water flow over me, surround me, and bring me solace. But God was inviting me to allow his springs of living water to flow through me. To be part of the process of assuaging others’ disappointments and longings. To walk with others in their places of loneliness and failure. I stay close to God, experiencing his love and fullness, out of which I am able to love others in return.
And as I’ve had a few small opportunities to trust him to open me up as a conduit of his love and grace, I’ve started to see that doing so diminishes my own dryness and my own neediness. That’s what it means to be part of the body of Christ. We fill each other’s gaps. My primary focus and desire is to trust God to use me to ease another’s loneliness, but in the process, my loneliness is somehow eased.
Having my own needs met wasn’t my goal at all, but as I open myself up as a channel of God’s love, both others’ needs and my own are satisfied. I’m not sure exactly how and why that happens. It seems as if God is working through my weakness, using me in spite of — or maybe because of — my brokenness and reaching other people in the process!
And our mutual satisfaction comes from the Lord, maybe because our very brokenness opens ourselves up to him and he quenches our thirst for living water through the work of his Spirit through each other. The sense of dry, barren emptiness is gradually overwhelmed by amazing love and grace flowing from God and spreading inexorably through the body of Christ.
Questions for Reflection:
- Are there any places in your life where you are experiencing a sense of dryness and lifelessness?
- Are there any ways in which you sense God is calling you to be the rock — a conduit of God’s abundant love and grace to others?
- Are there any places in your life where you need to accept the living water the Lord is offering you through others in his body, the church?