Jesus talks a lot about water in the gospel of John, and rightly so, water is something we all can relate to, it is essential for life. We know this of course as humans, the majority of our make up is water, but this week I got a chance to see this need in the animal world, and it was awesome.
The national park Drew and I were camping at this week in Namibia is so large, it took us over 7 hours just to drive through it. All over the park there are various camps where people stay while visiting, and each is complete with its own watering hole for viewing animals. So cool! So as we traveled through the park we stopped at various camps along the way to see different animals coming around for a drink.
Above is the watering hole at our campsite filled with zebras that were drinking and playing together. One day we stayed at this one hole the entire day and watched animals cycled through while a lioness was hiding nearby. Most of the day she left them alone and they didn’t even know she was there, but she attempted to make a couple of them lunch if they got too close.
This interesting relationship these animals had with water got me thinking about the things we run to when we are thirsty. If you look back to the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4, it is the perfect picture of the way we choose idols that will leave us coming back for more.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will become a in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 ESV
If you keep reading, you will see that Jesus goes on to reveal what seems to be the idol the woman had in her life. Her many lovers that offered her only temporary fulfillment for the longing to be loved unconditionally, something only a perfect Savior can give. We all have things in our lives that we choose to go to for comfort, fulfillment or satisfaction, and it may seem innocent at first, but we will always be coming back for more. What we think we want, a part from Jesus, will never be enough.
In one of Drew’s songs by Oneheart called Same there is a lyric that speaks of this reality,
“Lift up your eyes, keep your lamp burning,
He’s more gracious than the gods we adore.”
Our idols don’t love us like our Savior does, but they have the power captivate us and turn us into slaves coming back for more. So often these idols seem like something attractive that helps us meet our needs just like the animals that went from one watering hole to the next, but we never know when there is a lioness lurking around waiting to take our life.
We were so excited to see this rhino approach the watering hole after sunset, but we knew that the lioness was still there waiting for an easy catch. We watched him approach the water several times, but he knew the lion was there. He must have been so thirsty! But he eventually turned around and went back into the bush until she gave a big growl signaling her final drink from the hole for the day. How tempting it is for us to go back to our idols even when we know they can harm us. We can justify anything in our minds to meet our need just one more time.
I am so thankful our rhino friend waited for the right time to drink!
Our idols of course are not bad in and of themselves. The animals need water, and there are many things God created us to need as well. The problem is when our focus becomes the things that meet our needs instead of the God who satisfies all needs.
As soon as the woman at the well realized whom she was speaking to, and what he wanted to give her, she couldn’t help but go back to her village and share the good news. She drew many people to Jesus and they came to understand His living water for themselves.
Later on in John, Jesus continues to teach on this concept of living water. It transforms not only how our needs are met internally, but also what results in us externally because of His grace and true fulfillment.
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”John 7:37-38 ESV