We Are Broken Cisterns
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Imagine a small child trying to fill a sieve with water. Try as they may, it will not get full. The same is true with a cistern. A cracked cistern will not hold water. Throughout the Bible, cisterns are mentioned and sometimes compared to us and our faith. Find out why. Please read more.
In Jeremiah 2:13, God tells Jeremiah, “Two evils my people have done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; They have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Subterranean cisterns were common and plentiful in Jerusalem. In fact, the use of cisterns can be traced back as far as the Neolithic Age. In Biblical times, cisterns were necessary to sustain life. A lack of water led to a lack of life. As a result, cisterns make for a good metaphor for faith.
As Christians, we desire to be filled with Jesus. He alone is the living water that sustains us. But even active and committed Christians still have cracks. We have areas in our lives where we fall short. Using the language of Jeremiah, we have areas where we have forsaken God in favor of other worldly pleasures and promises. In other words, we all struggle against sin. We are all in a constant battle between our faith and desire to please God, and our flesh and desire to please ourselves. Each of us have areas where we fall short of God’s expectations. Perhaps you have toiled for years trying to overcome some specific sin, only to see it creep in and reappear again. As much as we desire to be filled with the grace of Jesus, sin caused cracks allow some of that grace to leak out.
Every good plumber knows that the first step in fixing a leak is to locate its source. The next task is to repair the leak. Spiritually speaking, most of us have located our leaks, but we have been unsuccessful at repairing them.
To restore sight to the blind man, Jesus made a paste from spittle and placed it on the blind man’s eyes. A paste made from lime mud was historically used to repair cracks in ancient cisterns. Jesus alone has the ability to make the needed paste to seal our cracks. However, for reasons we can’t understand, He sometimes allows those crack to remain. To our surprise He can bring forth good even through our brokenness. We should never stop trying to plug our own leaks, but we should also turn those difficult to fix leaks over to the Lord. He has the power to either fix them or bring about something good even from them. Allow me to share an old tale that makes this point.
“There was once a water bearer who had two large pots, each hung on opposite ends of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots was cracked, the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For two years the water bearer delivered only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection.
One day the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer while at the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, for these past two years I have only been able to deliver half of my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house.
The water bearer felt sorry for the cracked pot. In his compassion, he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” As they went up the hill, the cracked pot noticed the sun warming the beautiful wildflowers on the side of the path.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaws, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them. I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
My friends, each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked cisterns. We must not fall into despair because of our inability to fix our leaks and overcome our sins and shortcomings. We must never lose sight of the fact that Jesus died to forgive our sins, and through His mercy can even use our flaws to water the flowers in His Father’s garden. In ways we may never understand, our brokenness might just be a blessing in disguise.
Heavenly Father, I turn myself over to you. You know I have areas in my life where I have sprung a leak. I know you can heal my brokenness and repair my cracks with your mercy and love. If you choose not to Lord, I implore you to bring something good from the broken areas of my life. Your Son Jesus is the water that gives eternal life. Never allow me to thirst again. Amen!
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Goodness from brokenness! What a wonderful thought. IT reminds me of the song “Broken” that you introduced me to. I am very grateful for that. May God bless you , your family, and your ministry. Jim
Great to hear from you. I hope you are doing well. God is amazing! He does seem to like broken things. He is quite skilled at fixing them too.
Thank you, Brian. I particularly appreciate this story of the cistern, its cracks and ours. Jesus’ gift to us couldn’t be more clear.
We are all blessed by the love and mercy of our God. Thanks for posting.
I am truly grateful for your reflections each week. Today’s touched me very profoundly. The story of the water bearer and his pots struck home. Only Our Lord can make good and beauty come from something as useless as a cracked pot. Thank you, dear friend. I call you my friend, not because of a long-standing relationship, but because true friendship wills the good of the other, and you, my friend, always will our best good. Thank you.
Thank you for your very kind words. I very much appreciate them.
Going through a stressful time from multiple sources. It has caused me to be anxious and fearful and I’m struggling and crying out to the Lord to know His purpose.
Thank you for today’s message and the Lord bless you richly!
I am sorry to hear of your stressful times. Please know my prayers are with you!
The broken cisterns is the sweetest story ever. What a beautiful viewpoint of our flaws watering Jesus’ garden while we are tripping along broken.
His love to you Brian
Yes it is a beautiful tale of God’s love. Thanks for posting. God Bless!