Dying Flowers and The Water of Life
Everything touching the water of this river shall live.
Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will be healed. Wherever this water flows, everything will live. Ezekiel 47:9 Living Bible (TLB)
The sun was already high in the sky as we took off for our neighborhood walk. My niece, my daughter, her baby in the stroller, and me. The neighborhood is hilly, the streets are winding with no sidewalks, so we walk in the street, at a leisurely pace in our leggings and athletic shoes. Pretending to get exercise. Mainly to talk women-talk and share our lives.
It is on the crest of a dangerous hill, where cars cannot see us because of the steep approach and the sharp descent that we pause near the driveway of a 1960’s once-modern house. Deep down its wooded slope, the shell of the house is undergoing extensive rebuilding after a kitchen fire. Construction rubble, charred framing, a trash dumpster. My daughter reaches down and picks up a small handful of wilting flowers.
They are flowers a child would pick, short stems; only enough for a little fist to tightly hold. They are from a backyard or a flower pot, or maybe gathered along the walk to school. Accidently dropped along the way. Their colors are bright and cheery and out of place against the distressed gravel of the driveway.
We take the long walk, and share our secrets, and solve our problems and speak to the neighbors, and arrive home by lunchtime. As I set out the plates, I discover the little handful of flowers have continued to wilt, their shriveled stems and limp petals flat against the counter – forgotten and lost by the second child that morning.
I plop them into a juice-sized glass of water and fix our lunch as the baby is nursed, thinking to myself that these discarded flowers are not quite worth the effort. They sit forgotten as the day unwinds.
And this morning as I wait for the coffee to brew and cut the apple for the oatmeal, there they wait for me- flowers full of color and life- opened out to welcome me into my kitchen, still slumbering in the last darkness of the night.
Water. It is life.
We don’t think of it too much, in this land of kitchen sinks and warm showers. Water flows easily into our lives with the touch of a faucet and just as easily right back out again through the drain.
If you read God’s word to a people living in a barren land, surrounded by deserts, dependent on falling rain and flowing streams, water takes on special power. It is the power of life.
The prophet Ezekiel heard the word of God and spoke of visions of flowing water from the threshold of the temple in Jerusalem. This water started as a trickle ankle deep, then rose to knee deep, and to waist deep and to a river deep enough to swim in, too deep to pass through.
This water would bring life to many different kinds of fish, and the fishermen would spread their nets upon the seas.
Abundant water, fresh water, would flow, nourishing trees on either side. Trees filled with fruit. Trees whose leaves would never wither. Trees that had life from the clear fresh water that flowed from the threshold of the sanctuary of God. The fruit would be for food. The leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:1-12)
If you are a new-testament child, this story of life-giving flowing water may sound familiar. It is the same vision given to another prophet and follower of God named John. He wrote it all down in a book we call Revelation. (22:1-2)
“And he pointed out to me a river of pure Water of Life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, coursing down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew Trees of Life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month; the leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.”
A man named Jesus walked the streets of ancient Judea, telling of the life-giving properties of Hiswater – eternal water springing up from within, which would forever quench your thirst (John 4:13). He made this offer to a scorned woman who avoided the neighbor women of the village, forced to draw from the well in the heat of the day when the sun was high.
This same Jesus stood at the edge of the sea and promised fish to fishermen whose nets were empty. They cast their nets upon the water, and the nets became so heavy with the abundance of fish that the nets began to tear and the boats began to sink!
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, sir, please leave us—I’m too much of a sinner for you to have around.” For he was awestruck by the size of their catch, as were the others with him, and his partners too—James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus replied, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for the souls of men!” Luke 5:8-10
We are these wilted, discarded, forgotten flowers. We are the woman alone at the well, scorned by her neighbors for her hard choices in life. We are the exhausted fishermen, with empty nets despite our all-night fishing. We all need God’s flowing water of life; the water that flows abundantly from the throne of God.
Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, come to me and drink, and out of her heart will flow living waters!” (My paraphrase from John 7:37-38, referring to Isaiah 55:1-5, Ezekiel 47:1-12).
You are not too discarded, too broken, too empty, too beyond repair for God to nourish with His living water. Go to Him. Believe His words. From a trickle ankle deep will come abundance. Drink, and be revived.
Living Bible (TLB)
The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.