It’s been a decade since I spent part of a summer studying in Israel. It was a life-changing experience in more ways than I can tell! Studying in Israel was one of the best things I have ever done but going in the summer was insane! It was on a very long, uphill hike I learned a profound lesson! And I want to share it with you!
That summer Israel was desperately hot like an oven! Oppressive and the sun scorched everything it shone on!
Our group of students would travel and tour and hike in the heat of the day! Only tourists would do something like that! Crazy tourists!
As we traveled through Israel we all became aware that water was life to us as it was to everything else in Israel!
Can you picture us? A rag-tag group of very weary students dressed in holy garb (knees covered, shoulders covered, head covered) crisscrossing all of hot, dry Israel with water bottles in hand and wet wash clothes tied around our necks for comfort.
Every day and everywhere we went our clothes were soaked with perspiration that traveled in rivulets of uncomfortable sweat down our backs.
This group wore baseball hats, and sunbonnets, and straw beach hats and sometimes wet rags! Anything to keep the sun off of our heads.
We were tired and always thirsty! What a sight we must have been! This was not a study group for the faint of heart!
We were a mish-mosh traveling band getting first hand experiences in the land we came to study!
Everyday we would hike in the heat of the day! We would come to learn how long and how arduous our daily treks would be because it correlated to the number of water bottles we were required to carry and drink.
A four bottle hike would not be the “wee little stroll” our teacher made it our to be but a hilly, boulder climbing excursion with the top of a mountain as our goal.
One thing became quite apparent as we covered Israel, EVERYTHING needed water DESPERATELY!
Water is a precious commodity in Israel. I noticed something so interesting when I looked out over the dry parched land from the bus window as we traveled.
Once in a while, I would see a beautiful verdant patch or a long green sliver running through the color-of-a-dry-bone country. I came to know that was a sign of water. A stream or a river or a spring or even once, a waterfall!
Water would bring life and lushness back to even the dustiest, dead looking land! It was an amazing sight!
The living water, water that gives life, would come tumbling over rocks in its bed, running along and splashing life to the dry ground around it!
And that ground was thirsty!!!! Who would have known that there was life in the bleached ground just waiting to be awakened by living water?
I also learned that not all water is living water. Some water, which pools and is still, is not living water.
Living water has a source and runs along from the source. It is active! The closer to the source, like a spring or a mountain crevice, the purer the water.
Water that is not living water, like cisterns, can get stagnant and polluted.
The best visual example of living water we visited while we were in Israel was at the TEL DAN NATURE PRESERVE.
This was the most lush area we visited in all of Israel that hot, sweltering summer!
We walked along a densely, tree covered 5-mile path skirting the mouth of the Jordan river far to the north of the Sea Of Galilee. It looked so different than the rest of Israel we traveled!
As we got near the water source, Mount Hermon, we filled our empty water bottles with its Living Water. Some of our group even jumped in the river splashed around in it. It was icy cold and delicious and life-giving to our group of parched, hot visitors!
This wonderful water would run and bubble and make its way to become the Sea of Galilee, then the Jordan River and eventually the Dead Sea where it pools and can not sustain any life at all! But near its source, it was full of life and I got to partake of it!
I love how God uses everyday things around us to teach us poignant spiritual lessons!
To the ancient Jews, water was even more important than it was to our group of students. We had hotels with running water, well-equipped rest areas dotted all over Israel, water stations, and hundreds and hundreds of water bottles!
The Jews of Jesus’ time relied on wells and natural water sources. They clung to water for their very life.
After my trip to Israel, I can understand what a thirsty life many ancient’s lived! Living water was just that…WATER THAT GAVE LIFE! It was precious and protected!
Jesus used this everyday concept of living water to teach a very important spiritual truth.
My trip to Israel gave me fresh eyes to see the truths in this Bible story…
Jesus and his disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee. Their travels took them to the border of an area called Samaria. No good Jews traveled through Samaria because the people of Samaria were unclean people to the Jews!
But instead of skirting around Samaria as good Jews would, Jesus and His disciples walked right into this unclean land! The land was hot and dusty and dry and so were Jesus and His group.
Jesus was tired and thirsty and rested by “Jacob’s well” near the city at high noon. The sun was scorching and Jesus was feeling the effects of his travels.
His disciples went into the city to buy food. So He was alone.
There he met a woman, a Samaritan, a people hated by the Jews. But being hated by the Jews was the least of her problems! She was also an outcast from her own people. She was thirsty in a way that no water from Jacob’s well could quench!
So there she was drawing water from the well at noon and didn’t know that she was about to meet the lover of her thirsty soul!
Jesus asked her for a drink. What a great way to start up a conversation by a well!
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you LIVING WATER.” John 4:10
I am amazed by the love Jesus had for the very least of society, like this poor woman! She had a deep thirst and Jesus told her He would quench it! And give her Living Water!
This woman knew what Living Water meant. Just as we did when we saw it babble along the rock beds of Israel making life spring up all around it!
Water like the water I drank from the source of the Jordan, fresh, cold, pure and life giving!
“but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”. John 4:14
The thirsty woman at the well asked
“Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw”. John 4:15
She was parched and dry and dead! The water Jesus offered her was life! A life so pure and straight from the source that it would lead to eternal life!
The woman received Jesus’ Living Water! Not only did she receive it but she offered it to the dry and dead people of Samaria. They drank it too and new life sprang up inside them!
As I go through my day, I see a lot of dry and thirsty and dead people around me. And most of them don’t even know it.
Like the Samaritan woman, I have a spring of Living Water bubbling up inside me too. It’s active and life giving!!!! And like the living water, that runs along the parched land of Israel, I can splash it all over my spheres of influence and bring life to all who it touches!
If Jesus is your LORD and Savior, you have the Living Water too. You have an unending, eternal source!
Dive in the Living Water! Paddle around! Jump in its puddles and make big splashes so the people around you, those spiritual thirsty, dusty, tired people, can be drenched with Living Water!
Go through your day dripping wet with it! You might be surprised by the life that springs up!
This week’s verse to think about…
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:28