Broken Cisterns and Spiritual Dehydration


“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3, ESV).

Imagine this. Your entire life, you have heard rumors circulating about the existence of a miraculous place called The Fountain of Life. Suddenly, a friend of yours is invited to visit it. Not only that, but he is also granted unlimited access to enjoy its provision whenever he desires.

This Fountain gushes and gurgles and bubbles abundantly without ever stopping. Its crystalline waters provide supernatural refreshing to anyone who drinks of them. Tired travelers arrive and eagerly partake. Their exhausted spirits and bodies come alive with renewed exuberance once they have had a draught. Broken hearts find healing there and disillusioned spirits receive comfort and vitality. Everyone who ever visits finds their deepest longings satiated.

Then comes the strange part. Instead of excitedly accepting the invitation, your friend says, “No thank you. I have been working on a water source of my own.” He goes out and resumes his laborious efforts on this project of his. Sweating in the blazing sun, he wipes his brow in frustration.

He contemplates the malfunctioning reservoir that he has been constructing. No matter how much he works, he can’t get it to retain water. Everything he has poured into it only leaks out, lost forever. And yet, he stubbornly continues to pour the hours of his life into wasted exertion, his flabbergasting invitation to the Fountain quickly dismissed and forgotten.

You know, this is what us humans are like when we try to find refreshing and relief primarily in sources outside of God. “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13, NKJV).

Why waste our lives on what does not satisfy? Jesus is the Fountain of Life. Media binges, career accomplishments, that “next level” amount of money in the bank, purchasing the “latest and greatest” technology or vehicle, dating in ceaseless search of the perfect mate (and I could make this list so much longer)… none of these things can ever fill up our thirsty souls. When we look to them instead of to our Savior, we come up empty and dehydrated. Every time.

These pursuits become broken, leaky cisterns. It may look, for a fleeting moment – when the brand new toy is purchased, when the accolade is applauded, when the big check arrives – like we managed to put some water into them. But look! There it goes, draining away. So very soon, we feel empty again. Broken, leaky cisterns never will retain, or supply, life.

What will happen if we instead come to Jesus and drink? What will happen if we make intimacy with Him our number one drive? Notice something about this verse: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa. 12:3, ESV). The word “draw” implies some effort. If you have ever extracted water from a well before, you will remember the work that it required. Friendship with Jesus does not happen by default. His living waters don’t just jump into our mouths.

We invest time, effort, and passion into whatever we consider most valuable. If Jesus becomes our greatest treasure, it will show… by the investment of our very lives in relationship with Him. Yes, it will require of us all that we are. But what a joyful pursuit this will become! “With joy…” With joy we will draw water from His wells of salvation. For our wholehearted seeking of Him, “joy inexpressible and full of glory” will be our reward!

Today, Jesus Himself, the Fountain of Living Waters is beckoning to us. Will we turn aside and linger with Him? Will we drink deeply of that which truly satisfies?

“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37, NASB).


Why does it sometimes seem so much easier for us to go for the broken, leaky cisterns?


6 thoughts on “Broken Cisterns and Spiritual Dehydration

  1. Because, for a time, those leaky cisterns get the job done, and we pat ourselves on the back for our skills. All the while, we are not educated enough, or silently deny the reality, that our water source is going to fall apart. Same principle applies with those who mistake pleasure and happiness. Many worldly things can provide pleasure, but the sensation is temporary because it’s dependent upon some activity. True happiness is deeply-rooted and comes from one Divine Source.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That which we see and hear of in the natural, draws our thoughts, minds and flesh to partake. In our younger days especially, if we are not taught or shown how temporary things are in this world, we will be led astray. Parents naturally want to give and “bless” their children with many gifts. Our sinful nature, even as a child, causes us to focus on what others have. The world offers and promises much happiness and pleasure if we pursue the temporal things. All the enemy has to do is wet our appetite as with with Adam and Eve, the flesh then takes over. If eternal matters are not mentioned and taught, it is most difficult to pursue something we know nothing of. Len

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very well explained, Len. It is so true that sinful nature kicks in from the beginning! Anyone who doesn’t think so probably doesn’t remember their childhood, and/or doesn’t have any children in their life. We absolutely do need much teaching on eternal matters to address this fundamental issue!


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