“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.” (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘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 NIV)
Our recent trip to the Holy Land of Israel was a fantastic and amazing experience. I had been there once before (a little over ten years ago), but this time it was a little different. We saw many of the same sites, Caesarea by the Sea, Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, Cana, Megiddo, Capernaum, The Mount of The Beatitudes, Masada (the mountain fortress where the Jewish Zealots held out again the Roman armies after the Jewish revolt in 70 A.D.), the Dead Sea, Bethlehem, and many sites in Jerusalem including the Via Dolorosa, the Wailing Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb.
This time we also visited the ruins of Korazim (one of the small towns that Jesus cursed because of their unbelief), the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River where we had an opportunity to remember our baptisms, and ancient Jericho. It was, once again, an amazing opportunity to walk in many of the places where Jesus had walked as well as seeing other ancient sites that go back to the time before the Israelites entered and settled in the Promised Land (over 3,400 years ago).
Our guides, Mike and Deeb, were very learned and it was a joy to spend the week with them. One of the biggest differences I observed in the pilgrimage this time was a much deeper spiritual nature to this trip. Ten years ago our main guide was an archeologist and professor at one of the universities in Israel. His presentation was very historical. Mike and Deeb shared many of the historical facts, but also shared from their hearts. Mike described his experience of the Holy Land and how his faith has developed and deepened through the pilgrimages he has led there since the year 2000. He writes of his experiences in his book Be Galilee. But Mike also reminded us of an analogy I had heard and used in sermons before regarding the two main bodies of water in Israel.
“There are two major bodies of water in the land where Jesus walked. One is the Sea of Galilee, a beautiful lake 13 miles long and 7 miles wide filled with fish and surrounded by lush foliage. The other body of water is the Dead Sea, 50 miles long and 11 miles wide, the shoreline of which is 1300 feet below sea level (the lowest place on earth). Seven million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. The saline or salt content of the water of the Dead Sea ranges from 26-35%, making it 10 times saltier than the oceans of the world. There’s no seaweed or plants of any kind in or around the water. There are no fish or any kind of swimming, squirming creatures living in or near the water. As a matter of fact, what you’ll see on the shores of the Sea is white, crystals of salt covering EVERYTHING. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are fed by the Jordan River. There is really only one difference between these two bodies of water, really only one thing that causes the Sea of Galilee to be beautiful and alive while the Dead Sea is barren and lifeless. The Sea of Galilee has an outlet; the Dead Sea does not! Water flows through the Sea of Galilee. Water flows into the Dead Sea but not out! The same applies in our lives. If you and I have Spiritual input but no spiritual output, we will become stagnant, lifeless, bitter, and caustic.”
We need spiritual input to grow in our faith. We need the Living Water that only Jesus can give. We need to read Scripture, pray, learn and grow, and worship God regularly. But we also need to be giving of ourselves in spiritual output. We need to be actively serving Jesus and others through the Church. We need to let the Living Water that we experience in Jesus and the Holy Spirit flow through us into the lives of others. How are you doing in your spiritual growth – are you taking in as well as giving out God’s love and grace? I’ll see you in worship this Sunday!
Growing and Giving God’s Grace,