“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
It is possible to establish your life in pursuit of something valuable only to find years down the road that you were misguided and have misappropriated all your energies.
Human beings are really good at fixating on something specific and chasing it nonstop for years, blocking out the discouraging feedback from failed attempts and refusing to face reality.
I once read a quote on a decorative wall hanging in Vegas which described me perfectly. It said, “I Refuse To Let Reality Cloud My Fantasies.” I thought it was so clever that I came home and painted a trivet with that inscription.
This is such a difficult obstacle for us because we take great care to select the perfect desire for our long-term fixation. And we pick something good, really good, obvious to the eyes of everyone as something which would mark our lives “blessed”. There is this good thing out there, a reality in the lives of others but unattainable in your case over a period of years. Inevitably, the fantasy turns into a nightmare because the absence of something dwelt upon so singularly becomes an empty, stinging hole.
So what do you do with this?
Do you wake up every morning in the bottom of the hole to stare at the walls and complain about why the cosmos is keeping you down?
Do you distract yourself only to find that the void has its own gravitational pull?
Do you broaden your mental timeline just to expand the dream’s possibility of coming true?
All of these responses occur subconsciously. When one defense strategy doesn’t work, another one rises up and sustains you for a while. I admit, I sat in the bottom of that hole for 15 years taking turns between these tactics.
Part of the revelation that I was caught in this vicious cycle came through my own admission. During an email conversation between myself and heartbreaker #3, he apologized for breaking my heart and I replied, “I was left with a lot of shattered dreams which were shattered long before I ever knew you and still remain shattered today. You didn’t break my heart, you just didn’t put it together for me.”
When my best friend was widowed at 32 and she literally lost my figurative dream, I couldn’t ignore that what I had invested my whole adult life to acquire could be lost as soon as it was attained. I had always believed that the attainment would be the turning point when my life would start. But then I saw clearly that there was no security in the acquisition. The heartbreak I felt having never experienced reciprocated love could be quadruplely experienced having lost husband, father, home, and future. Atleast in my heartbreak I had lost none of those things.
So where was escape from the pain in any direction? Navigating among the shards of my shattered dreams was no longer creating only surface scratches. The only way to stop the bleeding was to clean up the glass and toss it out. I didn’t grab the crazy glue. I didn’t go shopping for a replacement. If the glass had always been broken and would always be broken, why keep it?
I had been living my life for a reality which didn’t exist while the reality which did exist was pretty darn good! It was like God carried me to the top of Mt. Everest to show me the view yet I refused to look up, insistent on staring at the weeds beneath my feet.
Discovery of the truth which resonates from Jeremiah 2:13 came much later. It says, “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.”
Yes, I had dug my own cistern. No, it never held water. It couldn’t, it was flawed. I had drawn a map of an imaginary world and committed my life to the hunt for it. Oh how foolish!
Scripture identifies the people who are susceptible to this foolishness - - it calls out “my people”, God’s people, people just like me.
God, I’m listening . . . .
He says I have committed two sins. (1) I have dug my own cistern - I formulated my own life-plan. I projected the life I deemed ideal and invested all my energies in it. I did this for a long time and it was sinful because I disdained all other options, including His design, the current circumstance which I presently know. All those holes in my plan, all those failed attempts were intended to show me that my plan was of my own unskilled construction. A broken cistern isn't worth living for.
(2) I have forsaken the spring of living water - I vetoed that God had rights to my heart’s desires. He is the spring of living water; therefore, His path is a life-yielding one. There is a lot of life out there to invest in which beautiful, eternal, and significant. It may not be a child who looks like me. It may not be a husband’s last name to take. But it sure is beautiful. Who can compare the view from the top of Everest with the view from the shores of Bora Bora? Forgive me Lord for holding in contempt the view where you have placed me.
There is a great unknown to fixating on the spring of living water. Who can comprehend Him? Yet with this change of vision comes a promise, the promise of life (living water) and abundance (the spring). I’ll take life and abundance in whatever package it comes over broken glass. Take this broken glass.