Broken Cisterns

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

Broken Cisterns

By Michelle Ochen

Have you ever filled a container only to realize it was leaking? There is very little you can do with a leaking container—it just does not satisfy its purpose. It brings frustration and usually leaves behind the mess it was supposed to contain.

In ancient times there were both wells and cisterns. A well went deep, whereas a cistern was generally shallower and collected rain water. During the time of Jeremiah, the Lord expressed His anguish over Israel’s rebellion in these words, “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13 NASB). Mankind has had a history of seeking after leaking containers. We go for the temporal satisfaction until we realize that it does not satisfy. We constantly seek worship, but we commonly worship the wrong things. We tend to elevate leaking cisterns and then wonder why we feel so dry. Perhaps the container is the shape of a relationship, a hobby, an addiction, perfectionism, performance, pleasing others, a job, a reputation? Anything that rivals our adoration of the Lord and promises to bring fulfillment apart from Him is a broken cistern.

There was once a woman in Samaria who had lived her life filling containers that did not hold what she needed. The comforts she ran to leaked. She had experienced the pain of rejection. Not once or twice had she searched and come up short, but her story tells us that five times she had been in relationships with men and still found herself longing. Jesus saw her and, knowing the deep thirst of her heart, waited for her at the well. It is in this unlikely interaction that Jesus reveals Himself as the living water that truly satisfies and reveals that the Father seeks for those who will worship in spirit and in truth. To know Him for the truth of who He is, and to experience His Spirit’s intimate working in their life as they grow in relationship with Him.

The Samaritan woman had worshiped relationships and found herself leaking. When she came face to face with Jesus and realized that He saw deeper than her life, but into her heart, she was changed forever. She met the living water who does not leak, but who becomes in us a well springing up into eternal life. She was changed when she met the One who is worthy of our worship. She traded in her broken cistern for a love that satisfies the deep longing of the heart. Worship is the place where we trade our broken containers for His overflowing love. Worship is the place where we come leaking and leave filled. Worship is the place where we met with the living God and experience change from the inside out. He reaches deep into the broken and leaking places of our hearts, and offers a love that will quench the thirst within.

Are there any broken cisterns in your life? Things that you keep returning to, even though you know they will not satisfy? Perhaps your tried not once, or twice, but five times and have found only leaking promises. The time is now, Jesus said, that the Father is seeking for those to worship Him (John 4:23). Worship opens our hearts to receive His satisfying love that cannot be compared to anything this life has to offer.