Empty Wells, Broken Cisterns, and Finding Fulfillment in Jesus
You could’ve heard a pin drop. On the women’s retreat this past weekend, the lovely Jordan Sundberg spoke to our hearts, and Jesus’ words through her pierced deep. The idea was of “empty wells,” or broken cisterns (Jer. 2:13). Her challenge (or one of her challenges) to us was to identify these places we go to try to find identity, life, satisfaction outside of Jesus. The things that, on a surface level, appear to bring satisfaction and fulfillment to our hearts, but in reality, satisfy only shallowly and temporarily. Empty wells leave us empty… aching for more. Relationships. Chocolate. Spouses. Pleasing people. Facebook. Food. Popularity. Influence. Hoping in a desire yet unfulfilled. Control. Coffee. (Oops, did I really just write that?! (Coffee may or may not occasionally be one of my personal empty wells.)) None of these things are “bad” in and of themselves… but when they become the things we run to before seeking deep fulfillment and peace and strength and satisfaction in the Lord, they become “empty wells.” They don’t ultimately satisfy. I sat with those awesome ladies in the mountains and we listened and the presence of God was tangible and I would bet you money that there was not a single woman in the place that wasn’t experiencing the tender, bittersweet finger of the Holy Spirit, revealing, leading, uncovering these empty wells in our hearts. Aaaahhh…. it hurts so good. Good, because He is so tenderly, fiercely committed to His process inside of us. Committed to drawing us into Him until we find our everything in that Place alone. Why do I find myself so often grasping at lesser sources of satisfaction? Isn’t the satisfaction I find in Him sweeter? More fulfilling? Eternal instead of temporary? Yes. Absolutely. But… at the gut level… do I really believe it? Do I really trust His heart and His ability to satisfy me in my deep places more than anyone or anything else ever could? When I turn to empty wells for satisfaction, the clear (and unfortunate) answer to the question… is no. I don’t trust Him. I don’t trust Him to be enough, to really satisfy and breathe life into the deepest corners of my heart. Ouch. Again and again, God comes and reveals to my heart that the sources of “life” that we can easily see and feel and quickly access in the natural realm are the ones that can ultimately leave us the most empty… the least fulfilled. And He has set it up this way. All our efforts outside of Him leave us longing for what can only be found in Him. He hems us in on every side. Everywhere we turn we run smack into the reality that nothing else satisfies. It’s incredibly frustrating. And it’s His gift to us. Our inability to find the satisfaction that we so desperately seek in all of these other places, is actually evidence of His commitment to our ultimate fulfillment…which can only be found in Him. Oh God… Reveal to me the places in my heart where I have “empty wells.” Forgive me for searching for fulfillment outside of You… for not trusting Your extravagant heart toward me, Your commitment to satisfy me completely, deeply, through and through. Show me all of my broken cisterns, my empty wells, these hollow sources of false life… Reveal them to me, Father, so that You can come in and bring true satisfaction where all my running around has left my heart empty and broken.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.K)’> welling up to eternal life.”
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