Drinking Living Water
“The burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water.”
It’s late summer, but I’m in my parched front yard planting pansies.
I’m desperate to see color in our yard, a space we’ve neglected since early June. I’ve been traveling all summer seeing family, serving on programs, taking a break. And my front yard, in the meantime, now looks forlorn and irritated.
So while neighbors tend to lush lawns and overflowing flower beds, I apologize for our grass—then scour my garage for last year’s pots to hold the few pansies I find at Home Depot.
At the store, I’d selected my pansies, grabbed a reasonably priced bag of moisture-control potting soil, and sweet-talked my husband Dan into hauling home the whole shebang.
“Pansies?” he asked, looking skeptical at the checkout counter.
With hope, indeed, I insisted on pansies.
That’s what the prophet Isaiah sought to inspire—hope—when he told the remnant of Israel and Judah that God would come and save them. Then “waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water” (vs. 6-7).
Water, not color, in the end, is the key to my little gardening scheme—just as living water is the key to our parched spirits.
I see this in real time when I shake out the pansies from their plastic holders to repot them.
Immediately, their pretty faces wilt. Their stems too. Hurriedly, I pack the special soil around their roots, shoring up each plant and setting it firm before moving their pots into the sunlight and watering, watering, watering very well.
Even with water, my pansies look less for wear, especially that first day. I check on them all afternoon, fussing and fretting.
Dan comes out to check on me, offering assurance. “They look good. They’ll be fine.” He’s a skeptic, but he trusts.
Isaiah asked the same of the Hebrew exiles. In your desert moment, he told them, don’t fear, but look instead to the promise of a refreshing, rehydrating God.
Count on him, that after this dry season, “even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!” (Is. 35:1-2).
Living water makes the driest ground abundant. My pansies confirm that. A few days later, they are bursting with health, reminding me that their French name pensee means “thought”—because pansy “faces” seem to nod forward as if in deep thought.
Or maybe the pansies are praying as we should. More water, please.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In a dry season, do you water your situation with fear or hope? How in the fall can a believer look forward to spring? Who can you encourage today with living water?
PRAYER: The days are growing shorter, Lord, and it’s hard to think of spring. Please water us in the meantime with your mercy, grace, and power. Then we will bloom year-round with the beauty of your love. Amen.
...say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.