The watering hole...


If you’ve spent any time in the southeast corner of Oregon, you know that water is the defining characteristic of the landscape.  Survival for plants and animals depends on access to enough moisture to meet their daily needs.  Without water, plants turn brown, and animals look for new areas to forage.  You really notice this when you're out hiking and come across a dried-up stock pond or water hole.  There’s no reason for animals to visit the bare, sun-baked earth anymore, and the only sign of their past visits is the deep footprints left as the pond turned to muck before the water dried up completely.  There may be some water when the snow melts in spring, but otherwise these dry beds seem to mock the intelligence of their builder as they lie there, dry and forsaken, with no water or animals in sight.

On the other hand, when you find a source of water, the change is remarkable.  Driving south from Burns toward Frenchglen, you can’t help but notice the contrast between the sage and rimrock on the dry slopes to the right, and the thick, green grasses, willows, and sprawling marshes along the Blitzen River on the left.  This oasis holds far more nesting waterfowl, marsh birds, and mosquitoes than most places here in western Oregon where water is abundant, and more than a few deer, including some enormous bucks found in that valley.  Even in a desert (or especially in a desert), adding a little water multiplies the abundance of life in amazing ways.

With this contrast in mind, I was impressed the other day with the words I read in Jeremiah 2:13.

“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

God was warning His people that straying from His ways was really two mistakes in one.  First, they were abandoning the Source of their life, walking away from the cool water, lush green, and teeming life of a fountain in the middle of the desert.  On top of that, they were trying to fashion their own way through life, something that would prove to be as frustrating and ineffective as hoping for water from a dry cistern or stock pond.

It’s easy to think that we wouldn’t make the same mistakes as those people long ago, but human nature really hasn’t changed much.  We don’t bow down in front of idols, but we often put our plans and pursuits in first place and hope God will fit in somewhere along the way.  We would do well to remember that what God said applies to us just as well as to those people back there.  God’s way is a way of life, but we are asking for a double dose of frustration and failure if we think we can find a better way on our own.  Don’t trade the abundant life around the water for the hardened clay of a dried-up stock pond.

God’s life and blessings to you,



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