Thursday, March 20, 2014

Living Waters

My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.
Song of Solomon 1:14 

Two quick reminders for us all regarding important community experiences:

1. Our God’s Heart for the World Offering It comes upon us March 30--please be praying about the part God wants you to play in blessing the world.
2. Our All Church Retreat First weekend in May--sells out every year! This year will be amazing with engaging communicators and Matt Nightingale coming back to lead us in worship.

As you receive this, I am in flight from Israel.  Just last Tuesday, we were in En Gedi for an awe-inspiring time.  Here are some reflections from what we experienced.

Barely one hundred feet from the desolate wilderness, the oasis of En Gedi supports lush green growth. Nearby, a spring of water runs from a rock, flowing down a cliff and creating the beautiful waterfall of En Gedi. Surrounding En Gedi, the Judean Wilderness is a picture of dust and dryness. Caves are scattered amidst the rocks, and an occasional tree or bush struggles from the ground. About one mile away, the salty and still waters of the Dead Sea can be seen. David and his men traveled through this very area and they hid from King Saul. No doubt they enjoyed a moment of rest at En Gedi, taking long drinks from the pure water.

The Shulamite woman is expressing poetically how much Solomon means to her--amidst the barren experience of life, this love is an oasis!  She gives us all the standard for marriage and more importantly, her words are a metaphor for what our relationship with Jesus is to be for us, an unending spring of living water--overflowing with life through us.

En Gedi water represents the “living waters” mentioned frequently in the Bible. For Hebrews, the refreshing and pure waters of En Gedi created a picture of God’s encouragement.

As they faced their battles in the Promised Land, God’s people grew weary of their mission to be a holy people at the crossroads of the world. In the midst of their troubles, many Israelites longed for the refreshment and strength of God.

One psalmist described his soul as thirsting for God “in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). Another psalmist wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Ps. 42:1).

The prophet Jeremiah warned God’s people about the foolishness of forsaking God’s living water. Through the prophet, God lamented about his people’s sin:  “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water” (Jeremiah 3:13).

What a vivid picture Jeremiah created with these words!  By abandoning God, the Israelites ignored something as cool and refreshing as the En Gedi waterfall.

Jesus, too, spoke of living water. In John 4, as He talked with a Samaritan woman, He offered her living waters that would be even better than the springs and rivers of the land: Jesus’ water would become a spring inside of her, ending all of her thirst.

As I ponder En Gedi, I can identify with the psalmist who thirsts for God. Honestly, there are times I face challenges and obstacles seemingly insurmountable. I feel dry, discouraged and weary… Where do you turn in times like these?

For me, I go to En Gedi—-a place where I can renew my strength and enjoy God’s living water. Whether it be personal prayer, Bible study, worship with believers, or running in solitude through the trees and trails west of 280.

If we don’t drink God’s living water, we risk burnout. But when we do find our refreshment in God, we will find strength for the days ahead.  “The water I give [you] will become in [you] a spring of water…” (John 4:13-14).

I love being your pastor!