February 15, 2024 Devotional

“Be appalled at this, O heavens, and shudder with great horror,” declares the Lord. “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 2:12-13

“Me do it!” That was the occasional declaration from one of our children at a very early age when confronted with something that was probably more than they could handle at that age, but they didn’t know it. Almost always, that child would then turn away and begin to attempt to accomplish whatever it was they were determined to do on their own. Not only had they turned away and declared their independence from us, as parents, but they also were trying to do something that usually ended up with us fixing or helping them fix whatever was not working. In the end, it was usually a lesson in humility as the child had to come back to us for help to fix it. Those are sometimes hard lessons to learn.

This week, we’re beginning the season of Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday. Lent is a season to take time to examine exactly what’s happening in our hearts and ask God to transform us more and more into the image of Jesus. It begins with Ash Wednesday because the transformation process must start by sitting in the dust of humility before a holy God and admitting that we so often say to Him, “Me do it!” Similar to the young child that is so tempted to be independent, self-sufficient, and ruler of their own domain, we are tempted with the same things. And, if I’m honest, I give in to that temptation either consciously or subconsciously more than I want. After all, we’re fallen creatures. Ash Wednesday, and the season that follows, is a time for us to turn back to God to say, “Maybe I need some help here. Can you show me how?”

The two sins God told Jeremiah in our verse for the day are that they turned away from God and tried to go it on their own. The first sin breaks God’s heart because of his love for us, and the second breaks God’s heart because of his holiness. Repentance is the only way to stop going in the direction that offends God’s love and holiness. I love the imagery that God relates to Jeremiah – a cistern that is broken and leaking water to all the wrong places. Cisterns are probably not something we see much of these days, but were critical to collect and store fresh water from surface springs so that people and animals could drink water without getting sick. Usually, the cisterns were sealed carefully to avoid contamination and to keep the water from evaporating. If the cistern had a crack or hole, the water would leak out to the ground or underground and the water would be wasted and not used for its intended purpose.

When we turn away from God and try to find our own ways to salvation and joy, apart from Jesus by way of the Holy Spirit, we become dry and without the living water that God wants to flow into us. The only way to begin to allow God to fill those cracks is by turning our faces to God and showing our cracks to Him, allowing Him to fill those cracks with forgiveness and grace, and then slowly refilling us with the living water that satisfies. We all fall short of God’s glory, but we all have the opportunity to stop, turn, and be filled again. That’s what Lent is about. That’s what God desires for us. And, besides, acting like a 3-year-old might be OK for a toddler, but God wants more for us and from us, as followers of Jesus. Repent and believe the Good News! Who’s thirsty?