Living Water

by Dr. Kaia Kloster on May 23, 2023
Featured in Kaia Kloster Blog

In eastern South Dakota, we had a whole lot of holes—prairie potholes, they call them. They are not really holes, just little, shallow wetlands here, there, and everywhere—catching and storing up the rain that falls onto the vast, flat prairie. While they are beautiful in their own way—abounding with cattails, pocked with muskrat homes, and graced with ducks and divers—they aren’t a place you would go for a refreshing dip.

The water that collects there has nowhere to go. It remains as long as the scorching summer sun allows, concentrating as evaporation steals the water away, and only occasionally being replenished by the spring thaw or an occasional thunderstorm. The water is murky, the algae is abundant, duckweed lies on top of the still water like icing on a cake. The cattails live and die, falling over into the stagnant water. The muskrats, ducks, and divers leave behind other detritus. The organic debris accumulates on the floor of the slough and begins to decay. The waders of a hunter sink deep into what is probably many seasons worth of death and decay which sucks at their feet and clings to their boots. Once disrupted, the characteristic sulfur smell—like that of rotting eggs—wafts up to offend the disrupter.

On the western side of the state, you will find the Black Hills—apparently not really big enough to be called mountains, but with far more altitude than the glacier-swept eastern half of the state. In the valleys between the craggy hillsides, you will often find a babbling brook. A rainstorm will send water rushing down the hillsides, gravity calling it all to the valley below. For a time, the streams become engorged—water rushing, sweeping debris downstream to some unknown collection point—only to recede once again to a babbling brook. Left behind is crystal clear water where you can see the clear definition of every rock and pebble and little fish darting from one hiding place to the next. Sometimes, there is a waterfall that cascades from an outcropping high above. One is aptly named Bridal Veil Falls—which fans slightly over the course of its long descent, like the draping of a bride’s veil. As you come upon a waterfall, you often hear it before you see it. A dull roar whose volume grows louder as you near the falls. Then, as you draw nearer yet, there is a distinct freshness to the air. As though the air itself has been swept clear of debris by the rushing waters. A fine mist rises from the crashing waters, clears the dust, and dances in the sunlight like tiny little crystals. A beauty to behold.

I have thought about the differences of these two scenes, and it occurred to me that it is much like our spiritual walk. As a Christian, we often soak up God’s Word like a sponge. Like the prairie pothole, we can gather all kinds of knowledge at church, Bible studies, conferences. Much like the catch basins in the prairie though—without letting it flow through us to others, it can become stagnant. As we allow the Holy Spirit to not only dwell in us, but flow through us, we take on the freshness of the cascading waterfall and babbling brook. The dirt and debris are washed away. Things become clearer. There is new life! The Bible speaks of living water. Let us be that! Let the Spirit flow through us bringing new life—not only to us but to those around us.

My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)

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

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13–14 NIV)


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