I love to water my plants. It’s like therapy. In the middle of a loud, long, busy day I love to go outside, take a deep breath, turn on the hose and water those plants. Back and forth, back and forth on the sweet potato vine spilling over in the Sunset Porch… back and forth, back and forth over herb garden by the kitchen …. mist the mint in the window box, water the pots of geraniums in the front, the wheelbarrow of ivy by the door, and the basket hanging from the shepherd’s hook out by the gate. If you are stressed, peace may be as close as the nearest water hose. Seriously, go try it and then come back to read the rest of this post…
One day recently, the constant drone of late summer “Mom,! Mom! Mom!” forced me outside for my daily watering wind-down. I slipped out the front door undetected, slipped on my gardening clogs waiting there faithfully, and took several deep breaths as I went over to the closest hose and spigot. As I reached down to turn the handle, I realized it had been left twisted in the on position. When I squeezed the nozzle at the other end, sure enough the water rushed out with the appropriate force of “shower, jet, or mist” – whatever I chose.
And God blew my mind a little.
If it had been left on all night, where was the water? Why was the ground dry? Where was it stored? The hose? The wall? The pipes? . How could it be on, but stopped? Would the pressure not eventually blow my nozzle?
I was so excited and curious I called my husband. About a water hose. In the middle of a work day. “Babe, when the water is on at the spigot but the nozzle isn’t being squeezed, you know, where is that water? Is it in the hose? Is it in the pipe? Does it not come out until the nozzle is being used even though it is on?”
“Which hose is it?”
“No, it doesn’t matter which hose. Any hose in the world. How does that work?”
“Is the nozzle stuck? There is probably a wrench in the garage you can use to …”
“No, there is nothing wrong. I just want to understand how it works.”
“Ummm, like the physics?”
“Yes, I guess. The physics.”
[Insert slightly exasperated sigh] “So there is a ball valve……” BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. OK, NEVER MIND. THANKS AND BUH-BYE.
It turns out that I didn’t need to understand the physics to understand that was me. The nozzle. I’m a nozzle. You are too.
Jesus refers to Himself and the Holy Spirit as water, living water, often in Scripture. I’m a water person so this metaphor resonates deeply in my spirit. Sometimes in this desert town, I can feel a longing for the Atlantic Ocean of my home from skin to soul. And sometimes, in a desert season, I can feel a longing for the living water even more. I get water. Let these words wash over you:
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.” Isaiah 44:3
Isn’t that as refreshing as a Vanilla Coke in the middle of August?
So if Jesus is the living water, and His Holy Spirit is given to us at the moment of our salvation- if it is turned on- where is all the water? In the hose? In the pipe? What are the physics?
The problem is the nozzle.
Though the water my plants need is ready, and on, and life giving, until the nozzle is put to use, it does them no good. They can wither and die right there next to the hose, next to the spigot, next to the unused nozzle.
Though the living water is available to each of us as believers, though streams of living water are promised to flow out of every area of our lives, we can wither and die too if we don’t do our part.
You see, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He is powerful, and life changing, but He is still and gentle as well (I Kings 19:12). Just like I can choose how strongly the water will come out of my nozzle, I can choose to allow the Holy Spirit to flow, or be quenched in my life (I Thessalonians 5:19). Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two sins; They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Sisters, how are your cisterns?
Are you clawing at rock hard ground, trying to dig a dry cistern, all the while the spigot of the Holy Spirit is perpetually on and available? Are you trying to refresh yourself with dust, next to a spring of living water? Our lives, our culture, perhaps even our churches are littered with the broken, shattered pieces of cisterns that can never hold the water we need. We know it instinctually, when we are pulling the bucket up from the dry cistern… of comparison, of wine, of beauty products, of social standing, of “likes,” of Netflix. Don’t forsake the deep wells.
Use the nozzle.
Refreshing is what I need at the end of these long, loud, hot summer months. I feel myself wilting beneath the grind of these days but already withering a bit under the heat of the expectations the next season holds. Anyone else? Here is how we get to the water we need::
“The law of the Lord is perfect, REFRESHING the soul.” Psalms 19:7
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He REFRESHES my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:2-3
“[You] will REFRESH the weary and satisfy the faint.” Jeremiah 31:25
“Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of REFRESHING may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
AND MY NEW MOST FAVORITE VERSE:
“A generous person will prosper; whoever REFRESHES others will be REFRESHED.” Proverbs 11:25 (Do you loooooovvvveeee it?)
There is a big bucket of living water for you. There are the ways we squeeze the nozzle. Here are the physics: the law of the Lord, quiet soul-refreshing time with Jesus, coming to Him when we are weary and faint, repentance, and generosity. We are refreshed in the act of refreshing of others. So, who can you refresh today with a kind word, with a extra moment, with a smile or a hug or a listening ear? With a Vanilla Coke? If you look around and see some areas of your life drying up and withering like an English rose in West Texas, try one of these settings on the nozzle. The spigot is on.
Let’s turn this thing to “jet” and claim what is ours! Living water- deep wells of it, streams and springs and rivers of it… Now that’s refreshing!