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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



It has been a dry year in Texas.

We are here visiting our daughter, Grace, in College Station. Things have cooled a tad since we were here in August, and there is just a hint of green in the fields. But it’s still a parched landscape, with sporadic cows wandering fields of long, baked grass.

This is thirsty ground.

Yet, our destination at midday is a different story. We have come to a combination garden center, gift shop and quaint restaurant. As we walk in from the high heat of the sun, we find a cool abundance of leaf, flower and fountain.  It’s a relief to see the hanging baskets and trellises of vines.  And listen to the trickling water.

It’s not palm trees nestled in Sahara dunes, but the contrast is striking.  And it’s a very Biblical disparity.

It’s no surprise that in an arid land like ancient Israel, water was significant.  The idea that it can transform the barren soil, bringing dry ground to life, is a theme that bubbles up throughout the Bible.  It’s found multiple times in Isaiah alone, like:

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
    it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  (Isaiah 35:1)

This single runner of lovely laurel clockvine reminds me that this revitalization isn’t simply for the collective whole of God’s people.  Individuals can be transformed, as well.

37 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. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  (John 7:37-38)

During the Feast of Tabernacles, when priests would dip empty jugs into the Pool of Siloam, Jesus cries out that anyone who drinks of him will not only receive living water (promised in Zech. 14:8 as a part of the Day of the Lord) but will have that water flow out of them.

I will confess, I sometimes feel like a depleted fountain. I don’t feel like I have much life-giving water to offer a world that’s literally and spiritually drying up. But the issue is more about how often I draw close to Jesus and pull from his pool of offered refreshment.

Jesus literally says in verse 38 above that for the believer water will flow “from his belly.” From the core of his being. That’s the secret. Water on the surface quickly evaporates if it isn’t replenished from within. That’s how fountains work, after all.

As I watch this butterfly alight on blossoms, I wonder where it came from.  How far did it fly to find this one, green island of flowers in a sea of withered grass?

That’s the thing about parched land.  It makes the oasis all the more wondrous.

Lord, fill us up to overflowing with your living water, the Holy Spirit.  Make each of us an oasis in a dry land, that others may come and taste and see your transformation.

Reader, what’s the thirstiest you’ve ever been?  And tell me what that first drink of liquid tasted like.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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