I have ruminated on Jillian’s most recent post since reading it on Saturday. She talks about being thirsty. Specifically, Jesus promises to help quench our thirst in John 4. He says “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:11-14) Today, Jesus expands on this teaching, explaining that once we have tasted the nectar of salvation, life becomes us. He says,
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38 ESV)
Two questions arise when I consider this text. First, what exactly do rivers of living water look like and second am I drinking the right water?
When you think of a river, which one comes to mind? The Illinois is the first to mine, I suppose because of its proximity. The second is the Mississippi in no small part because of Chevy Chase (here’s the clip). Why is the Biblical imagery of a river so important? Think for a minute about the volume of water flowing through them. A quick Google search reveals that more than 33 million people rely on the Mississippi river as their primary water source. Multiply that by the average 100, or so, gallons used daily by each person and we are talking about 3.3 billion gallons of water. That is a lot of water! Isn’t this exactly what Jesus is promising? He literally tells us that he will give us a river of living water that will flow out of our hearts.
While trying to grasp the concept of a river of water flowing from my heart, two things strike me. The first is that the water is flowing. As opposed to a stagnate pool, flowing water, is vibrant. It carries energy. In fact, big, flowing rivers of water provide enough power to light up entire cities! Not only is the water flowing, it is living. This life is not just its own, the water itself sustains countless creatures. In fact, the water is teaming with life. Life lives in, above and around the river. In other words, the life given to me, flows out of me. When it does, it nourishes and replenishes everyone around me. Said another way, if we truly have the life promised by Jesus, it will flow out of me. Enriched by the Holy Spirit, this life affects everyone around us. Jesus explains this further, telling us how we know it is the right water in John 13:35,
“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Does this make you want to live by the river? As you know, a constant source of water is the only way to ensure life. Make no mistake, Jesus Christ is the only source of this pure water.
Finally, I cannot leave you without sharing one of my favorite scriptures from Jeremiah 17.
““But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NLTse