photo – ©JoelDePriestPhotography – www.joeldepriestphotography.com
by Mark Richards
PDF – LivingWaterLeaflet
Springs of water
We cannot survive, let alone thrive, without water. The town of Chesham grew up along a river to which it later gave its name – the Chess. The river naturally provided a plentiful supply of water for drinking and washing. People could live and farm here. Watermills were built whose remains can still be seen today. Various industries, like brush-making, sprang up next to the river. Watercress grew well alongside the riverbed and for many years was picked and transported each day to London.
The town depended on the river, and even today it is a very attractive feature. From Chesham the Chess flows for some ten miles down through the beautiful Chess Valley until it empties into the River Colne at Rickmansworth. But how does the river arise?
The river is sourced by several springs in the Chesham area. The main springs are along the Chesham Vale to the north of the town and along Pednor Vale to the west. For centuries, in sunshine and snow, pure water from the underlying rock has bubbled up through them. There is something very beautiful and welcome about a spring of fresh water – especially if you’re thirsty! It’s so much better than drinking from a stagnant pool.
We can therefore easily understand what God means when he describes himself in the Bible as “the spring of living water”. God is saying that he himself is a pure and constant source of life and satisfaction.
Pleasures that dry up
But in the Bible God also brings a charge against his people: “They have forsaken me the spring of living water, and have dug their own storage tanks, broken tanks that cannot hold water.”1 The people had turned away from God and instead were worshipping other things, things they’d made themselves. And yet these water tanks were cracked – the pleasures that they brought soon stagnated and drained away.
Isn’t this still what we find today? When we turn away from God and centre our lives on our desire for more money, better homes, the finest food and drink, exotic holidays, sport, music or romance and sex, after a while the new found pleasures grow stale until perhaps they dry up altogether. We might try something else but it’s the same story again. To turn away from God our Maker and Sustainer is both wrong and pointless.
A meeting by a well
In the heat of a Middle-Eastern midday the Lord Jesus once told a woman by a well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”2 “…the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life…” This woman had been married five times and was now in another relationship. Jesus was not just commenting on the water from the well but on her lifestyle, going from one man to another. He was offering her a relationship of quite a different kind, a spiritual relationship with God. This would be pure and fresh and last forever.
In the same passage Jesus speaks of this offer as a gift. It’s not something we can earn or buy but something which we need to receive freely, humbly and gladly from God. Jesus came into this world and lived and died. On the cross he said, “I am thirsty.” The Bible teaches that through the agonies he suffered we can receive the forgiveness of our sins, the Holy Spirit and eternal life. Jesus himself rose from the dead and is alive today. He can cleanse us, purify our hearts and give us enduring satisfaction, joy and hope.
The never-failing fountain
Those of us who are Christians are deeply thankful that through Jesus Christ we’ve come to know God. We agree with the words of one who wrote long ago: “Lord, you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”3 The local springs may sometimes dry up but God is a never-failing fountain of life, peace and joy.
As a church we would like to invite you to consider carefully what Jesus, and the Bible as a whole, says. You will receive a warm welcome at our weekly services. We also run short courses where in a smaller group we look at the basics of the Christian faith and seek to answer questions people may have. We’d love you to get in touch.
1. The Bible, Jeremiah 2:13
2. The Bible, John 4:13
3. Augustine, Confessions, Book 1, 1:1