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.

1

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.

img_8921
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.

P1070871

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.

img_0001

 

Deeper Roots

10991263_853205298074613_4005687171510527978_n
Well Watered Trees, Watercolor in Nicaragua, Marcia Carole

The past couple of days have been resting days, yet again. I’m off the chemo pill this week, so it makes no sense that I am so weak. Maybe I picked up yet another virus? All I can do is lean into resting, yet again today.  While I lie in bed, I often listen to a number of teachers, who help me to think about my faith. Today, I spent a bit of time with a teacher in Jeremiah 2, in the Old Testament.

“Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.” Jeremiah 2:19.

What was the underlying problem for God’s people? No awe of God, no reverence or holy fear of God. So, I got to thinking….In my moments of sin, I am not in awe of God, but of something else – maybe my comfort or happiness or pleasure or success or my reputation. I do think, as a Jesus follower, the Holy Spirit prompts us to keep away from malice, envy, bitterness, all the sins mentioned in 1 Peter,etc. but we don’t always heed God’s promptings. I think, at that moment, what we/I treasure or what we are in awe of, directs our actions, thoughts, words.

p1080514
Well Watered Tree Bearing Fruit, Watercolor, Marcia Carole

As I have spent, and continue to spend, so much time lying in bed, resting, seemingly doing nothing… the Lord is working away. He has repeatedly convicted me of my sins over the years, lovingly prodding away at my lack of awe-led obedience moments, for so many years, in so many situations. I weep hot tears with Him when I think of my lack of obedience and head-strong actions. I ask His forgiveness and mercy for choosing: comfort, pleasure or happiness over obedience, as I endlessly nap.

These are dark, hard, hard days of destroying cancer cells, and, sigh, some good cells, too. However, I imagine these are golden days in tearing down lesser things taking my worship while building up my God-awe, by my confessing sin/rebellion, in so many hidden corners He is revealing in my soul. Then, He is building God-awe in those torn down places. My only hope is in knowing I am that tree (Psalm 1) God planted in streams of living water, with my roots digging down deeper than they’ve ever had to go before. And it’s truly painful. However, my awe-filled soul roots, can be in nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness. God is making certain of that.

p1020431
Psalm 1 Tree, Watercolor, Marcia Carole

My Normal – Living Close To Oxygen, Making Art

Cancer Update: I am four weeks past my last IV chemo today. I stopped in order to gain some strength for my move back to Seattle in early May. I want to be able to get on a plane without being in a heap in my bed! So, my oncologist has put me on two pills to continue to fight stage four breast cancer. One pill kills fast growing cells, including red blood cells. (Yikes!) The other pill is an estrogen reducer; my type of cancer enjoys eating estrogen – something I seem to have in abundance. Both are less harsh than IV chemo. I continue on a low level of oxygen for my breathing. So, I am staying close to my oxygen machine and making new art. I get about 90 feet with all my chording – it keeps me close to home.

During this transition week, I have been collaging the story of Jesus’ encounter with the widow of Nain – a true story you can read in Luke 7:11-17. What struck me about this story is the generous, loving heart of Jesus. As He approaches the funeral procession for the only son of a widow, Jesus is heart-broken for the widow and her plight. He has no problem being emotional about the widow’s grim situation.

12924533_1064757713586036_3011157345544396336_n
Jesus approaches the funeral procession of the only son of a widow in Nain.

No one asked anything of Jesus. His heart was gripped with compassion for the widow.

996151_1067238280004646_4611069865589693588_n

He stops the procession, and Jesus tells the widow not to cry. He then touches the coffin where the dead son lies.  Jesus says, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”

12140739_1067239250004549_8249523022909067267_n

The dead man sat up and began to talk. The Bible does not say what he was talking about, but I’m sure he was surprised to be in a coffin! I collaged the man sitting up and then being reunited with his mother. The Bible says, ” Jesus gave him back to his mother.” Now she would have a son to take care of her in her old age, something very important in that culture. Widows had very meager lives without care from family in Nain.

I’ve added clocks to a couple of pages of my book because I want to talk about time. It seemed like it was too late for this son to be healed. He was dead, for heaven’s sake! However, at just the right time, Jesus comes and raises this man from the dead. Time doesn’t seem to have a hold on Jesus; He seems to operate outside of time. He has power over time and Jesus shows He has power over death within time! (This is something I hold very dear to my heart.)

When I showed this whole book to my grandson, Calvin, age 5, he said, “Just like when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter.” Yes! Calvin acted like it was normal, natural behavior for Jesus to raise this son from the dead – that He has power over death. The faith of a child is a marvelous thing!

12933136_1067239690004505_4969711155980900926_n-2

I’m thinking of adding some confetti or banners to the gold chords I have on the last page to make it look more like a celebration. Jesus turned the widow’s mourning into dancing! He does that in the mundane of our lives, too, but His bigger gift to us is: He has died on the cross, been raised from the dead so we don’t have to be separated from God for all eternity. In a real way, we can be raised from the death and darknesses of our hearts right now, today. Jesus is heart-broken for each of us, and He conquered death for each of us if we would believe in Him. I put my faith in Jesus once again, today!

10931032_1067873019941172_8787711698570340548_n

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him.  As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.  When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!”  The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.”  This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.” Luke 7:11-17