My parents have a cistern and in fact many of the homes across the Caribbean do too. In case you’re not familiar with the term, a cistern is a waterproof receptacle used for holding water and is usually the first step in building most homes in the islands. It differs from a well in that it holds captured rainwater, and is between 7 to 12 feet deep, whereas wells tap into an underground water source.
Rainwater flows from the roof to the cistern so that a family won’t run out of water, and it is especially important during hurricane season when the water and electricity are often shut off. In times of drought other means of the cistern must be implemented so that water can flow interrupted.
Sometimes cisterns crack under the pressure of the water causing seepage, flooding, and dirty unusable water; needing immediate repair and refilling. A broken cistern is practically worthless. Cisterns are meant to be impenetrable, but on the other hand can only hold so much water before they overflow.
I believe we are a lot like cisterns; and just as a cistern cannot fill itself, neither can we. We need a constant inflow of the Holy Spirt.
We sometimes crack under pressure. We sometimes experience slow leaks that if left unattended turn to floods. We often need repairing and refilling. We are tough and strong, but can only do so much before we burn out or simply give up. Or maybe we are at the point where we can’t take on anymore “water” and are ourselves about to overflow.
If I’m honest, there are times that I feel like a broken cistern; at my wits end, about to throw in the towel, and no longer able to stand the weight of life and its requirements and tasks. I’ve been patched up many a time only to realize that there is still a leak. My joy, my peace, and even my trust in God escaped through the cracks and were replaced with doubt, discontentment, worry, and anxiety. I was bleeding out fast, because I wasn’t depending on the Lord to fulfill my spiritual needs. Those secret needs that are buried so deep only God can reach them.
“For my people have committed two evils: They have abandoned (rejected) Me, The fountain of living water, and they have carved out their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13
Like many of us do, I was looking for fulfillment and satisfaction but in broken cisterns. I was turning away from the only One who could quench my thirsty soul. Like a wanderer looking for a place to call home, I turned to every temporary thing that never could quite satisfy me.
Until the Potter, the One who puts everything back together again, grabbed me and covered my cracks with an indestructible and unalterable substance; gave me fresh life-giving water to drink; and fed my hungry spirit. Praise God for His grace and mercy, his patience and kindness as He continues to help me tear down my worthless cisterns, and replacing them with an altar of praise just for Him.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (NASB)