In the 19th Century, German explorer Alois Musil discovered that Arabic had 45 different words for types of “natural, enhanced, or wholly artificial water-retaining stuctures.”* When something is rare, water in a desert, a whole language is created to express its value. Bedouin shepherds know that without water they, their families and their flocks are doomed. Water must be found, tracked, located on a map, and stored in pools and reservoirs, and cisterns. The tell tale signs of its presence has to be observed and exploited. Wells must be dug, wells must be protected and defended. Sometimes the water is ten feet below the surface. More often it is 40 or 70 feet from the footfall of camels and men. In Morrocco there is a desert well that goes down 80 meters! (That’s over 250 feet!)
But shepherds know that the water is there. So they dig. With little water themselves, they dig. They use what little water they have to sustain themselves long enough to find water for others. They have learned to perserve. But they have also learned that finding water sometimes, takes a lot of hard work.
Sometimes, in our lives, we too are traveling through deserts where “water” is scarce. We need water, the ones we love need water and our community needs water. Living water.
It is living water that we need.
It is the One who can give living water that we need.
It is the One who is Living Water.
And when we search the Scripture, when we “dig” for the fine treasures in the word of God, God rewards us with living water and then through the living water of His word, He gives us the LIVING WATER of Himself. But Israel in the Old Testament and the Israel of God in the New Testament, the Church, sometimes drifts away from, like Israel of old, the source of living water.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have abandoned Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To carve out for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns That do not hold water.
Lord, the hope of Israel, All who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, Because they have forsaken the fountain of livingwater, that is the Lord.
And on that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.
John 4:10-11, 13-14
Jesus replied to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you livingwater.” She said to Him, “Sir, You have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do You get this livingwater? . . . 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never be thirsty; but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.”
The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of livingwater.’”
So, as we say goodbye to one year and hello to another, let’s determine to be like Bedouin shepherds and search for the living water that comes from the Giver of Life. Let’s be students of the word of God like never before. Let’s be a people of the Book with a renewed passion, so that world can know the One who saved us, can save them too.
*Cited in While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks, p. 47.