These days it seems as if I am falling asleep earlier and earlier in the evenings. It could be the winter darkness. Maybe I just FEEL like going to bed earlier because it's dark outside.
It could be because I get up at 4:30 AM to get ready for my 45-minute commute to work, arriving two hours early so I can get some exercise, make coffee for my friends, read my Bible, quickly scroll through Facebook and write this blog. That could be it.
It could be that I am feeling tired at night because I've been sick, coughing for nearly two weeks now. I'm definitely tired of THAT!!
I suppose, if I am to be brutally honest, the real reason I am tired so early in the evening is because I am just plain getting old. Go ahead, you can insert your own "spring chicken" comment here. It's okay. Actually, I am probably tired because of ALL the reasons above. One thing's for sure . . . I'm as tired as an old rusty pump. The older I get the harder it is to get me going.
My favorite pre-bed snack most nights is a tall, thin glass of cold milk. I am not thirsty, I just like milk. I was just about to get up from my comfortable chair and pour myself a glass when I came across a TV show on one of the "religious" channels - Ravi Zacharias - Questions and Answers - so I thought I would give it a shot.
I had heard of Mr. Zacharias before but had never "heard" him. I am glad I stopped and tuned in. Mr. Zacharias was answering questions from a group of college students somewhere. Their questions about Christianity were deep and very well thought out. And Mr. Zacharias answered them all, expertly.
Near the end of the program Mr. Zacharias told a story. It was so good I thought I would re-tell it to all of you. It is a story of faith and of evangelism. The story of Desert Pete (see link at bottom).
There was a man who was wandering through a desert - lost, dehydrating, staggering, near death as he searched for shelter from the sun, for food, and most importantly, for water.
He was thinking about his life as he walked. Why had he made the decisions he had made? How had he gotten to this point in his life? Near death, desiring the simplest of things - water.
As he crested yet another sand dune, he saw something in the valley below. Blinking and rubbing his eyes, he looked again. It was still there. An old, rusty hand pump. His walk became more determined now as he approached it. He wondered if it still worked.
The handle was quite hot but he didn't care. He pumped as fast as he could. Just as he feared - nothing. The pump was dry. That's when he noticed the cup hanging on the side of the pump. He picked it up and was just about to throw it away in frustration when he noticed a small note curled up inside it. He opened the note and read it.
"There IS water here. Buried beneath your feet is a jar filed with it. Dig it up and pour all of the jars water into the pump. Soon you will have all the water you need. Re-fill the jar and bury it for the next person."
The man dug as fast as he could. It wasn't long before he had a dirty, dusty jar in his hands. But did it contain any water? He unscrewed the lid. Sure enough! It was filled with water!!
He was just about to take a big drink when he remembered what the note had said. "Pour ALL of the water into the pump." But what if the pump still didn't work?!? All that life-giving water would be gone.
He thought, "The water in the jar will quench my thirst but then what. I'd need more for my journey . . . wherever I am going." He looked at the jar. He looked at the pump.
"Why would someone have written that note if it wasn't true? What did that person have to gain by writing a lie? Was he sitting somewhere, watching? Waiting for me to make the wrong choice so he could laugh? No. It MUST be true!"
He emptied the jars contents into the pump and took hold of the handle. He closed his eyes and slowly raised the pump's handle. Leaning in, he pushed the pump handle downward hoping to be rewarded. Nothing. He tried again. Still nothing. What had he done? All of that water was gone. He began to think he was going to die right there, draped over the pump handle. What a perfect picture THAT would make. One more try.
Still nothing, but that time the pump handle went down harder. One more. There! Was that a drip? Again! A trickle! Again!! A stream!! Again!! Wooooo!!!!! Water FLOWED from the pump! The writer of the note was right!!
The man drank his fill. Topped off his once empty canteen, then re-filled the jar and buried it just where he had found it. He placed the note back in the cup for the next person and hung it on the pump - grateful someone had been thoughtful enough to provide just what he needed, right when he needed it.
How like that man were we before we knew Christ! Thirsty. Without hope. Lost in a desert, stumbling towards our own death.
But then someone cared enough to tell us about Jesus. Someone took the time to "write us a note." Maybe it was a co-worker as it was in MY case. Maybe it was a friend or a family member, Or a classmate. Or maybe it was even a total stranger. The point is it doesn't matter WHO it was. What matters is somebody cared enough to tell you about Jesus. And in so doing, that person was "leaving some water in the jar for the next person."
Do you remember how thirsty you were before you knew Jesus? Do you remember how excited you were when you finally found Him? Were you grateful? Excited? Have you joyfully "filled up the jar" by telling others what Jesus Christ has done for you? Or do we tend to leave the jar empty and rejoice in our own salvation, ignoring "the next person," not caring if they die without the Living Water that is Christ Jesus.
I may be old, I may get tired sometimes, but I am always ready to give a reason for the hope that I have (1 Peter 3:15). And the guy in the story? Do you suppose he complained about his getting lost in the desert at one point in his life? Or did he enjoy telling the tale of finding life giving water in the desert? So it should be with ALL who believe.
"7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” - John 4:7-14
The Well by Casting Crowns
Desert Pete - The Kingston Trio