Have you ever noticed a period of time when every Bible study, every sermon, every life experience seems to revolve around the same theme? It’s as if God tosses subtlety aside and very clearly says, “I want you to learn this!” This has been happening to me lately. And the message I’m getting loud and clear is: Only God can satisfy me and provide the joy and peace that I need. When I put my trust in other things, they will fail.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a very bad week. I was sick, the kids were sick, we had a death in the family, and much, much more that I won’t go into now. Trust me, it was a bad week. The week was supposed to end with an overnight getaway for my hubby and me for my birthday. We hadn’t been away overnight in a really long time, which means I hadn’t slept past 7:30 a.m. in a very long time. So for about two months, I had my eye on October 25 as Sleeping In Day. (Have I mentioned that I love, love, love sleeping in?)
Well, thanks to a 3-year-old with a high fever, we managed to get away for a few hours but decided to come home before the overnight (and sleeping in) part of the trip. Rather than sleeping in and enjoying a day of outlet shopping with my hubby, I spent the day sitting at a doc-in-the-box clinic with a kid who had a fever of 104. Good times .
In the midst of my bad day at the end of a bad week, I sat down to do my BSF lesson. The lesson was on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26). In John 4:13-14, Jesus tells her: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 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.” Then I read Jeremiah 2:13: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
So the obvious lesson here is: Marissa is hewing out broken cisterns of sleep that can hold no water. If Marissa were satisfied in Christ, drinking in His living water, she wouldn’t be devastated by not getting to sleep in. And you want to know how well I learned this lesson? So well that 5 days later, when the same child started running a fever a few hours before Getaway Attempt #2, I threw a very impressive adult temper tantrum about it. (We went anyway, but the sleeping in eluded me as I worried about my sick kid and the poor grandparents who were stuck taking care of him.)
The whole experience (and my awful reaction to it) has me thinking about broken cisterns in my life. Those things–some good (sleep), some bad (complaining)–that I turn to for comfort when I’m stressed, worried, tired or sad. Those things seem to make it better for awhile, but then after a few days (or hours, or minutes), I’m right back where I was before.
Here are some questions I’ve been asked by Bible study leaders and pastors in recent month–remember, God has to make a big deal of something these days to get me to notice it:
Do the people around you see that you are completely satisfied in Christ? If not, then why? (Please, please do not ask Noel or my good friends this question. Maybe you could ask someone who sees me about once a month with a happy smile on my face and well-behaved children?)
Where do you turn when things get difficult? Food, tv, complaining, gossip, shopping, time to yourself? (Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and double Yes.)
Where are you placing your trust other than the Lord? (Sleep, money, and myself, just to name a few.)
When I put the answers to these last two questions together, my behavior really shows itself to be ridiculously silly, not to mention sinful. When things get tough, I want to grab a piece of chocolate cake and take my mind off things with some brainless television. So basically, I’m saying to the Sovereign, All-knowing, All-powerful Creator of the universe, “Thanks, God, but I think I’ll let this cake and this tv show solve my problem.” And then I wonder why I struggle with the same thing again the next day. Because it should be obvious . . . God is bigger than my problems. Chocolate cake is not. Only God can make me more and more holy, conforming me to the image of Christ so that I can love others and glorify Him.
How I’d love to leave those broken cisterns behind and drink only of the living water, finding my deepest satisfaction in my Savior. I know it will be a continuing struggle for me, but I’m thankful that God has knocked me over the head with this lesson. 🙂