For so long, the majority of us have suffered from deep thirst—the kind of soul-thirst that longs for real peace. But in our desperation to change the way we feel, we’ve often been willing to take whatever love and happiness we can get.
There’s an ancient Jewish story that tells of a group of people who acknowledged God with their mouths, but who lived lives of hate. The rich and powerful were terrorizing the poor. The people as a whole had moved away from their code of love and had become self-absorbed, greedy and cold, executing horrible acts of violence and oppression.
Although their God was outraged by their countless crimes of hate and murderous cruelty, this God also saw that the crimes sprang from a deeper foundational issue. The crimes were intolerable, requiring correction and accountability, but in order to get to the root of the problem, the Divine presence initially dealt with the crimes of their hearts.
They’d become disconnected from their true identity and instead were consumed by self-reliant attempts to get their needs met while rejecting the love of the Divine.
“My people have committed two crimes: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and they have made for themselves jars—broken jars that can hold no water.”
These people had previously experienced life-giving relationships and freedom through connection with the Divine. In relying on God, they had the opportunity to find contentment, joy and security. However, as these people moved away from God, they took matters into their hands, attempting to control, harm and use people to gain the power and security they wanted. They rejected the fountain of provision, instead trying recklessly to make jars—broken jars that couldn’t bring enough soul-provision to offer any kind of peace and joy.
They rejected peace and were drowning in destructive attempts to gain what could never bring peace.
I’ve spent most of my life searching for ways to change the way I feel. I’ve used my gifts, personality, insecurities and intelligence to try and get what I thought I needed.
And I’ve made countless broken jars.
Even when the broken jars failed, I kept relying on myself, trying harder to achieve lasting happiness. It was my hope that if I could only be good enough or sober enough or smart enough that the jar would do what I wanted it to do.
But the solution isn’t found in learning how to make better jars—the solution comes as we admit we are powerless and cannot take care of ourselves. We were made to receive. We weren’t made to make jars—we were made to be jars—jars that receive the acceptance and love of a Power greater than ourselves.
As we turn our lives and wills over to the God of our understanding, we will be met with an unending supply of the hope, new beginnings, forgiveness and strength that we need—we can receive from the fountain that which brings life.
This divine love and guidance is available whether or not we feel we deserve it or even when we feel broken beyond repair.
Even when we try to escape, even when we’ve exchanged real love and acceptance for counterfeit and temporary relief, the spring of water is still there.
Broken jars have sharp edges. I’ve caused myself significant pain by holding on to pottery shards. I’ve not only rejected healing and real acceptance, I’ve also endured unnecessary grief.
The pain I’ve tried to avoid has only increased. The shame I’ve tried to fight has only grown. The rejection from which I ran has become suffocating.
Broken jars don’t work.
Our hands need healing. Our shattered hearts, skewed perspectives and hurting souls need the provision that comes through frequent encounters with a God of our understanding.
Self-reliance doesn’t work because it wasn’t made to work. Instead, our Higher Power invites us to turn over our lives and wills. We can experience peace as we allow ourselves to be filled. We can experience guidance, comfort and love as we connect to the spring that never stops giving.
Chris Gibson, MDiv