Broken Cisterns and Living Water

A friend, Judy, recently texted me about a video she watched on the Bible story of the Woman At The Well. Since this story has captured my heart deeply, and I’ve got a collaged art book in the process of being published on the subject, I asked for a link to the video. I enjoy finding out new things about any Bible story; each story is so multi-faceted. I don’t think any of us can exhaust finding treasures in just about any Biblical narrative. But this one, well, it’s very special to me.

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The teacher in the video, Lysa Turkheurst, was standing right in front of the famous well – Jacob’s Well. It is now within a plastered and fresco decorated room, religious paintings hanging all around, I guess for tourists. It was nice to see the real well, or cistern, for myself. It sure did not look like the well in my arid desert scene in my collaged book! However, Lysa explained cisterns in a way I had never understood before. Cisterns had to be plastered in order to really hold water and be a well. If the plaster cracked, then the water could leak out. Cisterns needed constant upkeep so the water wouldn’t leak out.

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Jacob’s Well where Jesus and the Samaritan woman met.

Jesus offers the woman “Living Water” springing up to eternal life. His offer is so radically different from an old well that constantly needs patching! He’s offering a spring of flowing water, not a well that can crack, leak and constantly remain on one’s repair list. This information greatly helps in understanding Jesus’ offer to the woman, and this gem of a verse in Jeremiah: “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 Had she heard that verse? Was she putting it all together?

I had made the woman, with a collaged dress, that looks like it has holes, because I wanted to speak of her holes or the broken places in her heart. She was trying to fill her holes with many relationships. This way of life is her “broken cistern” she’s been trying to plaster over.  Jesus doesn’t want to plaster over her holes, but wants to captivate her heart with an entirely transformative strategy – springs of living water.

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There is just so much in this epic love story. How kind of God to gently show me yet another facet to His planned encounter with the woman at the well!

And, it’s making me think about the cisterns in my life. When I spend hours and hours in bed resting because of the chemo pill, I cry out to God to be my spring of Living Water, or where I find my source of life. I sense His closeness in new ways as I drift in and out of sleep. When I get up and start moving, almost immediately there is a temptation to find my source of life in my doing. Making a painting. Collaging a new book. Getting a project going. Fighting cancer with a new and different smoothie.  I’m so American! My worth gets all entangled with doing something. I’m not saying it’s wrong to do, it just will not satisfy my deepest longings for love, worth and value by putting hope for those in my doing. 

Then, I end up back in bed, and I lie there calling out to God. I’m spending eternity with Him, so perhaps many hours with Him, in and out of sleep, before I pass on, may be just where He wants me.

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Removing Heart Idols To Make Room For God

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Marcia Carole teaching on removing idols of our hearts, Central Asia
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Let’s look at the idols of our hearts.

One of the teachings I really enjoy presenting is all on the idols of our hearts. This activity has helped me greatly. I invite women to look at areas of their hearts that may be “cordoned off” from God. That is to say, a wall or stronghold is in place, and no one, not even God, is allowed into that area of our lives, our stories. We are still “God” in those areas. We have firmly planted a DO NOT ENTER sign in that area of our hearts. As I pull different items from a heart shaped “pillow,” we examine unforgiveness, despair, addictions, generational darknesses(sin), ancestor worship, sin against womanhood, making idols out of spouses or other people, and combining faith in Jesus with other faiths or synchronism.

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The participants are invited to bring idols of their hearts, through art-making, to Jesus.

Then, my team and I supply materials for workshop participants to bring idols they can identify at this time to the cross of Jesus. We then pray for each woman as she shares this part of her story, and try to help her carry burdens, unforgiveness, and unmet desires to Jesus. This prayer time is a time of transparency, vulnerability and connection, woman to woman.

John Calvin has said, something to the effect that “our hearts are idol-making factories.” However, as followers of Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit within us, so “the beauty of living in the New Covenant is that we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us, empowering us to obey and cleansing us from our idols. Are we still tempted to worship things other than God? Sure. That’s why John tells his readers to keep themselves from idols (1 John 5:21). But the fundamental disposition of our hearts has changed. Our hearts are not primarily bent toward idol worship, they are bent toward obeying God. When we do sin, the Spirit convicts us of sin and draws us back to himself.” (Quote fromhttp://theblazingcenter.com/2014/10/are-our-hearts-really-idol-factories.html)

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Bringing our idols to the cross of Jesus. Marcia Carole

This is an activity I must continue to do throughout the rest of my journey in this life. Holding onto idols, false gods of security and significance, can lead to paralysis, fear, life becoming smaller and smaller, coupled with a lack of mental, spiritual and even physical health. It is worth it to have Jesus as God in taking all areas of my heart, no matter the hard work involved.

“If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself.”
Timothy Keller

The LORD is my strength, my stronghold and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7

 Removing Idols Of Our Hearts Part Two Is Here.