For the month of July, Seattle had no measurable precipitation. Even when the weather is gorgeous, we still need moisture, whether from rain or irrigation. If not, the grass dries out, the burn ban is on. When the moisture level in the forest is low and lightning strikes, fires start.

So every evening, my brother waters his garden. If he fails to do this, the plants start to wither and eventually die; the ground crusts and cracks. With water, the seeds sprout and grow. Later he will harvest (if the deer don’t eat all the strawberry plants first).

The Bible often uses water as a metaphor for various aspects of spiritual life.


A Stream in the Wood  by Asher Brown Durand 1865, from the Web Gallery of Art
A Stream in the Wood by Asher Brown Durand 1865, from the Web Gallery of Art

Life cannot continue without it. Just as one becomes physically thirsty without water to drink, we also thirst spiritually because we cannot be satisfied or live without God. The Psalmist mentions this desire to know Him.

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (ESV)

Water can become polluted and undrinkable. In one of the plagues of Egypt, because Pharaoh refused to obey God’s order to release the Israelite slaves, the water of the Nile River was turned to blood so no one could drink it. Exodus 7:17ff. Spiritually we become polluted when we disobey the rules God gave us for our own protection, often harming ourselves or others in the process.

Water is cleansing. The ritual purity laws of the Old Testament provided that serious uncleanness could be removed by flushing it with ‘living water,’ which is running water that is continually renewed so that it cannot become unclean (Lev 11:32-36). Jesus offers just such living water by means of the Holy Spirit whom He sends to live within each person who believes and trusts in Him (John 7:37-38).

If one is going to bathe, the first step is to get into the water. Spiritually, our part is to agree with God when we do something wrong. First John 1:9 is sometimes called the “Christian’s Bar of Soap:” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Finally, we need to plant ourselves permanently by this spiritual stream and constantly drink its refreshment. A strong relationship with Jesus is the continuing source of living water, so develop good habits that will help you to drink it regularly by reading God’s Word (the Bible), praying (which is talking with God), and meeting with other followers of Jesus, (whom the Bible calls the Body of Christ).

One of my favorite passages presents a great word picture of this spiritual principle:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 (ESV)

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