In Need of Water

Imagine you’ve walked in a desert for several days. Your supplies are depleted. You’ve been without water for nearly 24 hours. You walk in the direction you believe is right, but you are lost, disoriented and dehydrated. You fall in the sand and close your eyes for a rest. When you open them, you see a hill above you with a bottle of water at the top.

Consider this question: What will save you?

The confidence that you can make it up the hill and drink the water?

The effort it will require to crawl up the hill to reach the water?

Or the water itself?

I’ve asked this question of the teenagers in my seminary class, my children and a group of adults. After long moments of silence, the response I most often get is “Is this a trick question?” While it is not meant to be a trick question, it is a thought-provoking one that I continue to ask myself.

The answer, of course, is that the water is what will ultimately save us. However, we would need to have the confidence, faith or belief that we can reach the water to drink it and that we will be saved. If we did not have this faith, we wouldn’t even try to make the effort. We also would need to combine our belief with an effort to do something or act in a particular way that will help us to reach the water.

This metaphor leads me to ask: How do I balance faith and works with the grace of God? What is the balance between what I need to do for salvation and what Jesus Christ has already done and will continue to do for me through his atonement?

The past week I ‘ve felt out of balance working beyond a comfortable effort at a new job while still retaining my responsibilities in my family and church service. The pressure pushed against me in a way that made me feel as if I would die. I wanted to push the effort to someone else. I wanted to blame.

In reality, I lacked faith. I feared. My confidence that I could even reach the water was clouded by the climb. I felt like I couldn’t go any further and couldn’t do anymore to reach the water. My climb wasn’t anymore than a need to repent, which simply is a process of admitting where I was wrong.

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. John 4:14

That water came freely to me after that.  Love softened me. Peace returned. Now, at the start of this week, I stand at the top of that hill, filled from that living water, and this question is in my heart, “Will I continue to drink from His well?”

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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca
    Mar 23, 2010

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. This gives me a lot to think about.

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