October 2018 – Living Water


I am writing this letter in a quiet moment between events at the conference of the British Dam Society in Swansea.  Every two years most of the Dam Engineers in the UK get together to discuss technical matters, meet each other, socialise and eat and drink far too much!  And I suppose it is this setting which has made me think a bit about water.


Our lives are dominated by water, we complain when to much of it lands on us (which it does often in Bolton) but without it we can last only a few days.  Our bodies are roughly two thirds water, it is the very stuff of life.


We in the UK take for granted the fact that we can just turn on a tap and get perfectly safe, very cheap water, so much so that we freely waste it.  We very rarely think that for some in the world, getting a glass of water involves a 5 mile walk, and that water when they get it may be a death sentence, due to typhoid, cholera, and other water borne diseases.  


I sometimes think we need to realise just how lucky we are, that through the work of those I am with this week, and their illustrious predecessors, we have that safe water we just expect to come out of the tap.


Water was taken much more seriously by those written about in the Bible, not entirely surprising you may say, as they lived in a semi desert area. But water in the Bible is always more than just something to drink.


Water seems so often to be a way of defining a people’s relationship with God.  The Israelites at Horeb rebelled against Moses who then (with God’s help) produced water for them from the rocks.  But it isn’t really a story about a new way of desert water abstraction, it is all about a lack of faith, about a people not trusting in God’s promises for them, and ultimately not making use of the blessing they had been given.


And the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, is not about Jesus getting a drink of water on a hot day, but about him saying that his gift to the world would be for all, that everyone, Jew, Samaritan, Gentile (ie us) would get that gift of living water, if we just asked for it, and received it in our hearts when it was offered.  


But crucially, that gift would be more vital to us than water itself.  


I don’t think that message can make as great an impact on us now, as it would have made then, because as I mentioned before, water is so ubiquitous for us, we don’t really value it.  But back in Israel 2000 years ago, where droughts were common, people would almost certainly have known friends and relatives who had died in those droughts, being told that there was something even more vital to life than water would be a huge message.


We have so much, we are so lucky in comparison to so many in this world, but we must always remember that however much we have, however full our lives seem with the things of life, without that Living Water of the Holy Spirit within us, we will be forever thirsty.



Malcolm Wearing