to the Waters
I was thinking one day about what God was doing these days and in my mind I got a picture of a swimming pool. It looked like there were a lot of people in the pool... they were splashing around, having a grand old time. It seemed that they were not only playing and splashing and diving, but they were drinking the water in the pool at the same time. Some had even gone down to the deep end of the pool... where they could not stand any longer... they were completely immersed in the deep end to the point that you could not see them for long periods of time as they went all the way under the water. It seemed the people who went to the deep end were different after they had spent time under the water... they looked and acted different-- more full of life-- than even the rest of the people in the pool did.
I also noticed that there were a lot of people hanging around the edge of pool. It seemed that some of them, as they walked close to the edge, fell in by accident (and much to their delight once they got in the water). They were a little afraid of the water because they thought it would be way to cold or just the opposite, that it would scorch them. They kept looking at the people who were in the pool and noticing that they seemed to be so refreshed and having such a good time... this seemed to make their curiosity even greater. It also appeared that those around the pool had cups that they would dip into the pool and drink out of. They seemed to like the water... it was very refreshing to drink... and they kept coming back for me. I noticed sometimes too that people around the edge sometimes got pushed in accidentally (almost like the picture of kids playing and trying to throw each other in). But again, once they were in the pool, they were happy someone pushed them in. Some finally got so curious they just went and jumped in on their own.
I also saw that the pool had a fence around it. There were a lot of people standing on the outside of the fence... in fact it seemed a lot more were standing outside the fence than were in the pool and playing around the edge. They all seemed to have cups as well... and they were all drinking out of them. Some of their cups had run dry, though. The sun was hot that day, it appeared, and you could tell some people were really, really thirsty.
I also noticed that there were many people outside the fence who did not have cups... some of them looked really bad... almost to the point of death even. They were standing around talking to those on that side of the fence who were drinking from their own cups... Sadly, I didn't see many on that side of the fence offering water or directing those without to go to the pool and get some.
I noticed too that some people who were in the pool were oblivious to those outside the fence....they were so busy having fun, they did not notice the people outside the fence who had no cups for water, or whose cups had almost run dry.
There were others, however, who would jump in the pool, spend time in the deep end, get cooled off and refreshed, and then get out of the pool to go talk with those outside the fence. It appeared there were a lot of people like this going back and forth between the pool and outside the fence in this manner... and while on the other side it seemed that they would try to convince those outside to come in and join them for a swim. A lot of the people outside the fence appeared to be in business suits or formal attire... and most said they would prefer not to get their clothes wet by jumping in the pool... many said they had heard rumors that snakes were in the pool... but all the people in the pool seemed to be having so much fun... and freedom. Many of those outside the fence had cups that had run dry... some said they remember going into the pool years ago.. and some remember just being handed a cup of water years back.. some said their cups were filled over 10, 20 and even 30 years ago, and they had been drinking from that cup ever since.
A lot of people going back and forth were bringing water to those whose cups were almost empty... and they were trying to give water to those who didn't even have a cup. It seemed they were the ones constantly urging people to come in to the pool area and get their own water and their own cup, though. You could tell that the people who were going back and forth were getting tired of being outside the fence and outside the pool... they all wished they were back in the pool splashing around and enjoying the water. But for the sake of those who were on the outside of the fence, it seemed they knew those people were not enjoying the water as much or were dying of thirst, and so they would always go back and try to get more people to come join the fun.
I overheard many people on the outside of the fence discouraging people from going inside the pool, too. They had heard rumors that the water in the pool had been tainted, and that is why the snakes liked to live in the pool. They appeared to be heckling the people who were on the edges of the pool... some were even shouting warnings about the danger of being that close to the edge! This caused a lot of people who were debating about getting into the pool to be very confused.
I also noticed that there was a waiter looking type mingling in the crowd outside the fence... he had a pitcher of something in his hand and he was offering to refill the cups that were almost empty. The odd thing is that he looked like Cary Grant... someone very nice looking, with a great charm and appeal. Much to my surprise, I discovered that he was filling cups with vinegar! But people who were thirsty were so thirsty, that this didn't seem to matter to them. Some refused with just a simple "No thanks", but others begin to like the taste of the vinegar...almost as if they would drink anything at this point.
I did notice that some people outside the fence finally followed the go-between types into the pool area and began hanging around the edges ... some realized that they could refill their cups and make the hot day much more bearable. As many began hanging around the edge, they too noticed how much fun every one was having in the water, and even some of them jumped in or fell in by accident.
Then a very odd thing happened. All of a sudden, a large thundercloud came up suddenly out of nowhere. The heavens opened and water began to pour in huge sheets. It seemed that there was such a downpour, many began to run and seek shelter. Many, however stood there and enjoyed the downpour. Everyone got drenched! It was incredible. As the rain continued to pour, many people on the outside of the fence began to take off their coats, shoes, and ties (they were drenched anyway). Many people, those with cups and those without, began running and jumping into the pool!! ... it appeared that it didn't matter anymore. The voice of God then spoke from heaven and said, "THIS IS REVIVAL!".
Friends, is it any wonder Jesus used parables to explain the truths of the Kingdom to us?? Pictures speak a thousand words. The pool picture is not a perfect theological picture by any means, its not going to be part of the canon of Scripture anytime soon, but there are a few good lessons I learned from it. Here is the meaning of the picture, as best I can figure it, if you are still trying to figure it out:
Those with cups, the ones inside the fence and the ones outside the fence, represent the Church... the water that is in the pool and in the cups themselves is the Holy Spirit.
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
1 Cor 12:13
Jesus told the woman at the well that the water He gave would be in her a WELL of water springing up into eternal life. Friends, our human bodies will die without water... it is THE essence of LIFE in terms of biological function. Likewise, Jesus said that unless a man be born of water and the spirit... unless He receives the water of Life... unless the Spirit of God breathes on you and makes you a new creature... unless you are brought from death to life by the water of the Spirit... then you will not enter the Kingdom of God (you can't even see it!). Without the water of life that Jesus gives, we are dead spiritually and will die in that condition as well! Trying to attain spiritual life apart from the Water of Life, without the new birth, is called RELIGION. Religion looks a lot like relationship and covenant with God... but they are irreconcilable. One gives LIFE and the other gives DEATH... there is no middle ground. One might make you feel good about yourself but usually just makes you feel guilty... one points you away from yourself and points you to the ONE who gave Himself for you!
So back to the parable....those without cups represent those who do not have the ability to RETAIN water... they have no WELL... they are dead spiritually.. they are lost and without hope in this world, and they have no hope for the next world either.
The fence around the pool represents religious affiliation and some of our theology. It also represents pride... if any ONE thing can be linked to keeping us out of the presence and fellowship of God, it is pride! Theology is not bad! The pride we have in our theology, the pride that says we cannot be wrong is where sin creeps at the door. A humble person who is wrong on a doctrinal issue can be corrected... a proud person who believes they are absolutely right will NEVER be corrected until confronted with a supernatural experience of God the Holy Spirit. However, supernatural encounters are the exception and not the RULE in how God chooses to deal with intellectual pride, theological pride, denominational pride, charismatic pride, or ANY other form of self-reliance. For the most part, God will let us live in spiritual prejudice and unbelief... He for the most part will not argue with us about doctrines that may not be 100% accurate... and especially doctrines or viewpoints that really might be more of an impediment to experiencing His fullness than they are an aid. There is nothing wrong with worshiping God with our minds.. we are commanded too. But our minds are carnally influenced and must be constantly renewed. Spiritual pride has built the largest religious fences the world has ever known... and fences only serve to divide people and keep us from the presence of God.
The pool represents the fullness of the Holy Sprit and the fullness of the presence of God in our lives. And I am not talking about the narrow Charismatic/Pentecostal view of the fullness of the Holy Spirit either. In fact when you are in the pool, you not only drink the water, but the water surrounds you. There is a DISTINCT difference between these two. It is the SAME water, though. It would be like you asking for water, and I give you steam or ice cubes.. you wanted the liquid form... but I did indeed give you WATER. We limit our understanding of the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit when we limit his operation to some distant point in the past when we accepted Jesus as our savior. Jesus spoke distinctly of a WELL of water and a RIVER of water.... He was speaking of the same WATER though!
A WELL in my mind is vastly different in nature than a RIVER. A WELL runs deep into the ground, tends to be stationary and well established, and is fixed in a certain location. The WELL of the Holy Spirit fixes and establishes us firmly into the Body of Christ... it is a well from which the character and nature of Jesus Himself is drawn from. A RIVER, on the other hand, has MOVEMENT and unclear BOUNDARIES. A RIVER will change the landscape it flows over. A RIVER shapes things around it, pushes things out of its way, and affects everything it touches.
When we are saved, God installs an internal aquifer that is fed from the River of Life that flows from the throne of God. It is with JOY that we DRAW waters from the well of salvation.
Read John Chapter 4 again. Let me ask you a serious question that might rock your theology... did the woman at the well receive spiritual life that day?? I believe, from all indications, that she did. The Son of God offered this woman LIVING WATER, and evidently, from all outward respects, she accepted His offer!
If you follow this story (read it for yourself), this woman had a revelation of Jesus as a Jew first, then as a man (good sir), then as a prophet, then as the Christ or Messiah. She had a hunger for God (give me of this water...) and it appeared that she acknowledged her sinfulness... it then appeared that she went and begin to tell people of THIS MAN... and many BELIEVED because of her. It is hard to even get a convert that says the sinner's prayer in an American church to do half as much as this woman did!
Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 12:3
Honestly speaking, did this woman have to wait for the day of Pentecost to receive spiritual life?? It appears that she began to immediately SPEAK of Jesus, which if you know ANYTHING at all about the Holy Spirit and His work, NO person does this or even has the desire to do this apart from His presence in our hearts! I believe Jesus GAVE her that day what she was searching for.. the WATER of LIFE. I don't think she went away thirsty... and I don't think she had to wait for the day of Pentecost before she began to drink of the Holy Spirit. John said that the RIVERS of LIVING WATER Jesus spoke of (John 7) had not come yet because Jesus was not yet GLORIFIED. Jesus seemed to offer the WATER of LIFE, however, to any one that wanted it, even the most unlikely person-- a Samaritan woman with a scrupulous background... but a woman with a thirst for God nonetheless. I could elaborate more on this, but I won't... there are many other great pictures of the Holy Spirit that teach us about His ministry! The point I want you to get is that we have many pictures given to us of the ministry of the Holy Spirit... in this case, we see He is both a WELL or SPRING of WATER and also a RIVER of WATER.... it is the same LIVING WATER... but its working and characteristic is different. Do you get it??
You see, I will DIE without drinking water. However, I can go a LONG, LONG, LONG. LONG, LONG time without ever having a bath. That's right... nothing says you ever have to take a bath if you don't want to... ancient people bathed a lot less often than we do, and they seemed to live longer! However, I realize I am going to start to smell really, really, really, really bad... in fact I'll get to where no one wants to hang around me! We need a bath to get all the dead skin off... to stay refreshed... to keep the dirt from getting built up... to make us "appealing" to other people. On top of that, if I go more than a day or two without a shower, I will start to feel rotten! But I will not DIE. I can go a few days without drinking water or fluid, but eventually my body will shutdown without it... WATER is ESSENTIAL for life. We need to be IMMERSED in WATER so that we can be "DRIPPING"... the only way we can bring refreshment to the desert places of life is if we are immersed and soaked and saturated with the Spirit of God.
Some times those in the Church who have experienced the fullness of the Spirit are so self absorbed in themselves that they are oblivious to those on the outside of the fence. There is nothing wrong with hanging around the deep end of the pool, but eventually you must get out of the pool and go into the demon possessed valley in the power that God's Spirit gives us! The goal is to get so drenched in the Spirit that God can use us to bring refreshing to those who need it... not to just to play in the pool all the time and gloat how we are on this side of the fence enjoying the water, and not one of those "on the other side."
Many on the outside of the fence try to keep others from jumping in to the pool, because that would not be very dignified. The "business" clothes do not represent people with different worship styles that are not "like mine", but they represented man's attempt at spirituality, even within the Church. Our churches are focused on making our "outer" parts look good, and missing completely the inner work the Spirit longs to do in our lives. The Spirit of God wants POSSESSION of our lives.. but that does not go over well in a free-market economy and the American idea of independence.
The business clothes also represent theological knowledge without spiritual experience. Every one on the outside of the fence might be well able to write a dissertation on the pool, on how great the water is, and why every one needs to drink the water. But until you have been in the pool, you cannot adequately take others in with you.. that is why Biblical knowledge apart from practical experience is worthless.
The "waiter" who was distributing vinegar is the devil of course... when Christians reject the giver of Living Water, they will settle for the vinegar that the kingdom of darkness and this world offers. It turns them bitter, hard, cold, religious, and stony. There is nothing worse than a Christian that is walking in the desert of dryness, in an arid parched land, who drink vinegar to satisfy their thirst! The devil does not come as a mean looking ogre... he comes as something that we are attracted too. Our flesh is attracted to emotionalism and intellectualism .... those in the pool and those outside of the pool are prone to BOTH respectively. I do not down play the intellect no more than I down play true heart felt emotion... I just don't RELY on either one as a marker of my intimacy with God and my ability to hear His voice! I know this though: My flesh is not attracted to the cross... it does not want to die.
The final symbolism that I want to point out concerns the rain storm... and what I believe is the most important point of understanding. God has promised us that He would pour His Spirit out on ALL flesh... we saw the beginning of this fulfilled at Pentecost on the Church, and we will see its ultimate consummation until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete and God's plan for the age is completed. The odd thing about this rain storm is that it fell on those in the pool and those outside the pool... and many outside the pool (saved and unsaved) jumped in as a result!!
What a powerful message to us. It is I think yet another way of looking at the coming revival...the rain is about to fall. The pool is about to get a lot more crowded... so why not come on in now... don't wait for the downpour... God wants people who will be filled with and possessed by His Sprit.... so they can take JESUS, in all of his power AND character, to the empty and thirsty in the world and in the Church.
Will you come to the water today?
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows. You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows. I came so close to sending you away, but just like you promised you came here to stay, I just had to pray.
Your goodness is so great I can't understand. But dear Lord, I know now, that all this was planned. I know you're here now and always will be. Your love burst my chains and in you I'm free. But Jesus why me.
Jesus I give you my heart and my soul. I know that without you I'll never be whole. Savior you opened all the right doors. And I thank you and praise you form earth's humble shores. Take me I'm yours.
And Jesus said come to the water, stand by my side. I know you are thirsty, you won't be denied. I felt every teardrop, when in darkness you cried. And I long to remind you that for those tears I died.
And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Rev 22:17