Several summers ago, during a drought and food shortage along the West Coast, more than thirty brown pelicans from California crash-landed on asphalt and sidewalks in various parts of Arizona. The state’s Game and Fish Department officials nursed the emaciated, bruised, and scraped-up pelicans back to health. They concluded that the dehydrated pelicans, due to mirages created by the sun’s reflection on the hot and cool layers of air, mistook the pavement for water and attempted to land. Gliding in with their thirst to settle on water they had been desperately longing for, the pelicans experienced a jolting shock when pain came instead of relief.
I know that feeling. It’s familiar to all of us idol factories.
God refers to our propensity to exchange his glory for worthless idols by using a metaphor of water and thirst. “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). We build our own broken containers from dream vacations to long-sought promotions to sex sprees to substance abuse. We are deluded by the assumption we’ll be able to use them to quench our soul’s thirst. It’s why Jesus offered the Samaritan woman what he called “living water.” She had been trying to land her thirsty longings on the asphalt of failed marriage after failed marriage, and he was offering her the opportunity to dive into real water.
At its core, the issue is our misdirected worship. We weren’t created to worship those things as a human being, that’s not the purpose for which I was originally made.
Taken from life with a capital L: Embracing your God-given humanity, by Matt Heard