Have you ever seen a stagnant pool of water?
A few weeks ago, I read a story written by Judy Franklin who contributed several chapters to the book entitled, Walking in the Supernatural. This story was a vision she had about people gathering around a fountain drinking, splashing, and having a great time. The fountain was so strong at times that it would gush over the edges of the bowl, covering the ground. As people observed the flow of water, someone said, “Let’s go build a cistern to hold the water.” Their statement, though logical, was made out of fear that one day the source would soon run dry, so the people dug a cistern and carried buckets of water until the cistern was full. When the cistern was filled, the people went about their lives and took their water from the cistern instead of the fountain.
However, the cistern had a very slow leak and the people didn’t realize that the water level was dropping. As time marched on, new people gathered around the cistern never realizing how full the cistern was previously. They assumed that it had always been at this present level. Over a long period of time, the water was reduced to mere puddles in the bottom of the cistern. People had to lie on the ground and reach into the cistern to get water, which had grown stagnant. The people hadn’t noticed that the water tasted foul because they had become dulled to the taste of fresh, flowing water. Upon this realization, someone remembered the fountain and everyone got excited and they journeyed back to the original source. Of course, the water at the fountain was still flowing. People gathered around the fountain drinking, splashing, and having a great time. They were revived in the fresh flow of water. However, over time someone suggested that a cistern be built to preserve the water, and the cycle started all over again.
As I read this vision from Franklin, I couldn’t help to think about how it reflects the move of the Spirit and revival in our churches. It reminds me of how revivals ebb because we drift from the main source. In our attempts to preserve the flow of God’s Spirit we inadvertently create paradigms around the activity of the Spirit. I made the statement one time that the greatest hindrance to the move of God was the move of God the week before. We cannot create a wine skin around the move of God’s Spirit (see Luke 5:37-39). Otherwise, it’s like digging a cistern and relying on what God “did” and not on what He is “doing.” Methods and strategies that we employ during an event or gathering that ushered the presence of God into a service must be loosely held in the next meeting. Otherwise, like the Pharisees, our traditions will become more sacred to us than the authentic activity of God’s Spirit (see Mark 7:13). How many needless battles have taken place in churches over human constructed ideas that are thought to preserve the presence of God? Think about it: divisions have occurred over our “cisterns.” Perhaps we’re only serving stagnant water because we’ve long forgot what it’s like to draw from the real source of life.
Jeremiah wrote, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Think about the progression of these two evils. First, we forsake God, the fountain of living waters. Through busyness, neglect, distraction, or even sinful activity, our intimate connection with God is impaired. I hear this same lament over and over again: “My life is so busy right now.” What takes precedence over you remaining connected to the source of life? Our lack of intimacy breeds spiritual assumptions, and it’s not long before we commit the second evil of constructing ministries, plans, and ideas that when executed, don’t carry the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit. Anything that we design, build, or hew that isn’t inspired by the direct impulse of God will fail. Our churches will become broken down cisterns offering nothing but stagnant water.
Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38). Some scholars translate the “innermost being” as a womb, meaning that something is to spring to life from our spiritual womb; namely, rivers of living water. The water that springs forth from our lives is not to be stagnant, but something that is full of vitality and life. Additionally, this life-giving river is to “flow” from our inner being. This word carries the idea of water being constantly poured out or always flowing forth. The point that Jesus was making is that our lives should always flow forth with the life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit (see John 7:39). Every person reading this should be a well spring of life and hope to others. Our lives should be an artesian well of the Spirit that flows out everywhere we go. I believe this is only possible if we remain connected to the source; the fountain of living waters.
What is being released from your life these days? Are you gushing forth with the fresh river of life? My challenge to all of us is to stay attached to the source. Don’t settle for anything else in your spiritual walk than an ongoing, intimate relationship with God. Don’t settle for human attempts to hew cisterns to control or preserve His presence.
Father, forgive me for straying from you, the source of life. You are my fountain; you are the water of life. With your help I want to remain attached to you so that fresh streams of your Spirit will flow from my life, in Jesus’ name, amen.