by David Phelps

“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” – Mother Teresa

July, 1999

A couple of months ago at work, some of my coworkers and I began to notice ducks early in the morning. At first, they were sitting in the driveway. Then they were on sidewalks and parking lots. Soon they seemed to be everywhere. We wondered where they were living, since there were no nearby lakes or ponds. They didn’t seem to be migrating since, as nearly as any of us could tell, it was the same two ducks each time.

I wasn’t the first to see them but I was the one who found their pond. As we had suspected, it was hardly a lake. In fact, it was barely a pond. Perhaps twenty feet long, next to a parking lot, it was mostly a puddle with delusions of grandeur.

In biology, life on Earth has one thing in common: all of it is based on water. All living things need water -- liquid water -- in order to survive: microbes, ducks, people, camels or redwood trees, they all need water. The human body is mostly water. 75% of Earth’s surface is covered with the stuff. But for aquatic critters such as ducks, water is more than life: It’s also their home. They live there, find their food there, mate there and raise their young.

In the Bible, water is significant for what it symbolizes as well as for what it is. The story of creation begins with water (Gen. 1:2-10). In the story of Noah, God saved Noah and his family from a flood (Gen. 6:1-8:22). As a baby, Moses was saved when his mother placed him in the Nile river in a basket (Ex. 2:1-10). God saved the Hebrew people by allowing them to pass through the Red Sea (Ex. 14:15-31). Washing with water was a symbol of purification (Lev. 14:8-9). Water itself was a symbol of life (Psa. 1:1-3).

In the Gospels, Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist ". . . to fulfill all righteousness." (Mt. 3:15b NIV). When he met a Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob (Jn. 4:4-30), he asked her for a drink of water. In turn, he offered her "living water" (Jn. 4:10b) and told her "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." (Jn. 4:14a NIV). On the day he was crucified, water and blood poured from his side, where a soldier had stabbed him with a spear (Jn. 19:32-34). This was the water that was his very life, the water that makes us new creations, brings about our salvation, washes and purifies us, and gives us new life ". . . born of water and the Spirit." (Jn. 3:5b NIV). And when we accept the living water Christ gives, he will put in us ". . . a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn. 4:14b NIV). He has promised, "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (Jn.7:38 NIV).

Remember that the Samaritan woman didn’t keep the news of Jesus and his "living water" to herself. Instead, she returned to her village and told everyone she knew (Jn. 4:28-30). In turn, they came to see Jesus for themselves. The God who commands us to ". . . let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" (Amos 5:24 NIV) expects us to share the "living water" that we are given.

There are people all around us who are parched, a whole world dying of thirst for the "living water" of Christ. We owe it to them to give them the water that will truly satisfy their yearning, so that they "will never thirst."

During a recent period of hot weather, I wondered about the ducks at work. Their pond was awfully small. What if it dried up and they had to find a new place to live? Fortunately, so far there hasn’t been a problem. In fact, in the morning, the ducks can be found enjoying the lawn sprinklers around the office buildings. Their pond is very small, hardly more than a puddle, but it’s enough for two ducks. In the same way, our acts of compassion and witness may not seem like much at the time, but maybe, just maybe, they might be enough for a soul dying for the "living water" that only Christ can provide.

"With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
In that day you will say:
'Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done,
and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things;
let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.'" (Isa. 12:3-6 NIV.)


Copyright © 1999 by David Phelps