Living Water

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about water. It’s been the rainy season here in Nairobi, which means I’ve been getting drenched on a regular basis. I made the very unfortunate mistake of leaving my rain jacket hanging up in my parent’s house in the US, and while it has been mailed to me I haven’t yet received it. So for the first couple weeks of the rainy season I did as best I could with my wind-breaker jacket which is at best lightly water resistant. But it soon gives up resisting and I’m utterly soaked in minutes. The rainy season means that for most days, it is fairly nice and even sunny for most of the day, and then about five pm, right when I’m leaving the office, it pours. And I mean pours – some of the hardest rain I’ve ever seen. At times it doesn’t even feel so much like it’s raining as that there’s water filling all the space around me.

I did buy some more effective rain gear, a rubber jacket and trousers, which is much better. But there’s another way water has been affecting my life…by not being there. In my taps that is. I arrive home dripping wet, remove all my wet clothes and change into dry ones, only to find that there’s no running water in my apartment. I went six straight days without any running water…which became a bit of a problem. I had been told my neighborhood doesn’t have a problem with water, so I wasn’t prepared to store a lot of water, and didn’t even have a jerrycan or anything. After a few days I went searching for how to buy water, was told to buy some old cooking oil containers, then a girl offered to clean them for me and show me where to find water, after which she proceed to go straight to my door…meaning probably just about everyone in my neighborhood knows exactly where I live.

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It was an odd feeling to be carrying water from down the road to my apartment. I felt like a village woman…fetching water for washing, boiling to drink, so on. And it reinforced how central water is to life…it is terribly inconvenient not to have water. Washing dirty dishes really takes a lot of water! I would so much rather have the power go out than have the water run out. I knew that most people in the world didn’t have constant access to running water…but it’s a bit different when that now includes yourself. And most people don’t ever have access to running water, or clean water, which is a considerable worse problem.

I think back to what Jesus said to the woman drawing water…and He is the ‘living’ water. Now water is certainly necessary for life…but it is not alive. Try to imagine your water coming alive…I imagine that is a rather disconcerting notion. But Jesus said he was the ‘living’ water…and clarified that “everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV).

If you carry all of your water from a long distance…imagine not only never being thirsty again…but having a your own personal (portable) internal eternal life wellspring!! That sounds pretty great. All your water problems solved forever. And that’s what Jesus offers.

Several times in the Bible rather inanimate things are referred to as being alive. I think of Peter referring to us as living stones…which is about as non-alive as I can imagine (1 Peter 2:4-5). Jesus also said he was the living bread (John 6:51). We know that God is the God of the living, not of the dead, and the central hope we have as Christians is encapsulated in the resurrection – that death itself has been defeated and we have been giving the gift of life which cannot be destroyed or taken away. My life here is somewhat tenuous…one swerve on my motorbike and I could be gone…but I’m glad that a life awaits in which carrying water won’t be necessary for anyone…because we’ll all have portable internal springs of eternal life water.

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