We have a fountain in our backyard; it came with the house. It’s a big deal to me because I’ve always wanted one. There’s something deeply soothing to me about the sound of gurgling water. And it’s not just me that feels this way – soon after our fountain began to gush and slosh, all manner of birds and insects showed up as if on cue to bathe and drink and refresh themselves in it.
When we moved in, the fountain was missing some pieces; it had been unused and neglected for years in the far corner of the garden. Leaves clogging the drain and dirt discoloring the ceramic basin, it appeared beyond repair. With technical savvy, elbow grease and time, however, my husband brought it back to life. We celebrated its presence and ate outside every chance we got. And even though my neighbors are carefully concealed behind shrubs and fences, I imagined them also appreciating the happy sound of our fountain as they went about their duties. Almost as if we were sharing our little oasis with them.
As time and life marched on, however, we found ourselves spending less time in our garden. Focusing ever more on tasks and competing demands, we scurried to and from wherever we were going, forgetting all about the fountain. Until one day, while sacrificing the walk to let our dog ‘take care of business’ in our backyard, I discovered the water had become stagnant. Having remained dormant for so long, it had turned into a breeding ground for mosquitos. Alarmed at seeing wigglers (yes, that’s what they are called) darting about near the surface, I quickly cleaned out the basin and refilled it, activating the pump.
Unlike the healthy, living things that thrive in clean, aerated water, pesky mosquito larvae prefer inert, stagnant habitats full of algae and all kinds of scum. When the water moves and currents start flowing, the environment becomes hostile for them and they perish.
Ever since that first encounter, I have been careful to make sure the pump is turned on regularly, making it uncomfortable for mosquitos to settle. It was disturbing to realize that the very item that had been such a blessing to me and those around me also carried an equal potential for harm. When the fountain was working as it was designed, it brought pleasure and refreshment. Left unattended for too long, however, the same water became a habitat for pests and, potentially, the launching site for disease.
Apparently, Jesus had something like this in mind in John 7:38, when he offered living water and a new way to anyone who would come to Him. He knew that the self-righteous, the proud, the legalistic, and religious leaders who were weighing down true seekers with the Law, weren’t seeking fresh water and life. By their own effort, they were holding onto old ways, creating inert, stagnant pools that would eventually spread death.
He also knew that the wounded and lost who recognized their insufficiency were thirsty for more and could only be truly satisfied by Him, the Giver of Life. So He beckoned them, as He still does today, to come to Him and drink; to find in Him new life and hope. Because in His loving and merciful way, He mixes things around, gives us a fresh heart and gets currents of living water flowing that not only quench our thirsty souls, but also overflow to bless our neighbors.
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
Tamara Carpenter is part of Newsong’s Board and a regular contributor to this blog.