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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

Cracked Cisterns

Cracked Cisterns
                                                            Jeremiah 2:4-13
We are constantly in a state of looking for something. It drives me crazy when I hear those dreaded words, “Where is my…?” If anybody has been blessed with organizational skills, perhaps they don’t engage in “where is my..”” activities at much. Some people seem to have the knack for knowing exactly where everything is. Not me, and certainly not my husband. We must enjoy that hunting and searching, because we spend enough time doing that. But what drives me even crazier are those times when we think we have found just the right object of our desires or needs, have ordered it, put it together, played with it, used it and found that it doesn’t really fit our needs. It wasn’t what we had anticipated. That might be an article of clothing, a meal we have been craving, the latest electronic gadget, a vacation we needed, a hot tub. We have an endless number of “things” to choose from in this world, things we can talk ourselves into without batting an eyelash. And each one seems to fill a purpose, at least temporarily. The object of our desires might just fill us with joy and excitement. We simply have to have it to fill our needs. Oh if I could have the money back for all those things I have bought and then relegated to the closet or basement or garage, I think we could afford to buy Jean’s house or put an elevator in this church. We are constantly in a state of looking for things that will make our life better.
The Israelites were so easily led to looking for other “god” who could possibly operate better than God. They wanted insurances in life that would help them produce better crops, more wealth, more status in life. They probably saw one of their neighbors who practiced the worship of other gods who got more and better of life. The natural inclination would be to “add” that god to one’s worship practices. Jeremiah has witnessed the degradation of worship of the one true God, had seen people searching for other gods to take up the slack in God’s seeming lack of care for his people. He uses the image of cracked cisterns to demonstrate what the people of God have done. A cistern is something people of Jeremiah’s time used to hold precious rain water for use during dry times. A cistern is useful until it runs dry, or becomes filled with stagnant water or develops a crack that lets the precious water out. The people had become like cracked cisterns themselves. Not satisfied with God, who had nurtured them through the wilderness with Moses, who had cradled them in their times of need, they began to look for a god who could enhance their well-being even better. They were stepping outside their vital and life giving relationship with God to hedge their bets in life, to seek to improve their status and insure their survival. They were placing their trust in gods who were worthless. 
I love that image of the cistern for us now. We have the opportunity to develop a relationship with God who is the ultimate in life giving and life sustaining resources. Yet we look for cisterns to ensure that we will have plenty of water during our times of drought. Instead of trusting the one true God of our lives and of creation, we turn to our technology, our government, our equities, consumerism to find the satisfaction we want for our lives. We seek other sources of enjoyment and fun to satisfy our need to feel happy. We seek work and entertainment that will enhance our sense of pleasure in this life. And if carried too far we seek drugs, alcohol, illicit pleasures that will numb our minds. We begin to leave the one source that can lead us to satisfied and fulfilled lives. Our cisterns begin to crack, leaving us with little water. The less we depend on God for our source of life satisfaction, the more dissatisfied we get, eager to keep seeking that which will fill us and give us peace. It’s a crazy cycle we can get into. We want more and seek things that will help us live better lives. We become the people that the television ads target. “I gotta have that…” people who think we are improving and fulfilling our lives, who think we are edging closer to the happiness we seek. 
We don’t really need cisterns in our lives, even if they are good cisterns. We already have living, flowing water we can tap from and depend on. God is the source of this living water. When we have God at the center of our lives we have the chance to discover what it is we truly need to live satisfied, fulfilled lives. God leads us to the living water in Jesus. And with this living water, God leads us through our decisions, our longings, our desires, our whimsies, our cravings, our needs, if we let God do that. It isn’t so much a prayer of God give me, as it is God lead me. The water has been given abundantly! Our task is to drink of it. We can stop spending our time looking, and start spending our time drinking of this precious resource. 
Lately I have taken up the hobby of raising air plants. They cannot be planted in the ground, but depend on moisture and nutrients found in the air. My task in keeping them healthy is to mist them every 3-4 days, talk to them (giving life giving CO2) and keep the air moving around them.    That’s what God does for us! Our task is to drink from the water provided through prayer and study, and partake of a living relationship with God that will lead us through times of drought in our lives and produce in us the fruits that will help God recreate His wonderful creation. Paying attention to God and God’s blessings revealed in our relationship with God is what we were created for. And until we establish that relationship our tendency will always be to look and search for more and more, and always more, never quite reaching that sense of satisfaction and peace that only God can give.  

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