We drove to Vancouver for our mission trip last month. We knew that along I-5 we would be passing Shasta Lake. It was one of our favorite sights whenever we would go that way. But this time, when Shasta Lake came into view, our hearts sank. It was a depressing sight. The drought in California was very evident as the water level was dangerously low.
For those of us who do not get to see such a scene, the drought may seem so remote. We may even complain about the water consumption restrictions that many cities are now implementing. Why? The water still comes out of our faucets. The pressure still is good. We do not feel the problem, at least for now. And so we think there really is no cause for concern. We choose to continue in our usual habits, which are often wasteful. Until the consequences of our negligence finally pour down hard on us. Then, it might be too late.
The circumstances Californians are facing right now remind me of a picture that scripture uses of another kind of dryness: spiritual drought. In the book of Jeremiah the prophet, the Lord rebukes Israel: “My people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the LORD. “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me—the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” (Jeremiah 2.11–13 NLT)
The picture is that of a people who go on with their wayward ways, neglecting the true source of life, and depending on their self-made resource. Just like California’s “water-wasters,” their conduct reflects is a mindset of self-deception, thinking that what they now are enjoying will sustain them indefinitely. But the reality is, their resources are “cracked cisterns.” If they continue in this path, they will reap its consequences.
We enjoy a lot of privileges that it’s so easy to convince ourselves that these things we enjoy are forever ours. We build our own monuments to ourselves and to our achievements. We lean heavily on our ready access to sufficient healthcare, to pleasurable recreation and entertainment, to advanced technological gadgets, and much more. Though good in themselves, our faulty perspective turns them into “worthless idols.” And this severely exposes us to the danger of spiritual drought.
But to those who keep Christ at the center of their lives, there is a promise: “The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’” (Revelation 7.17 NIV)
—Keith Y. Jainga