Filling Broken Cisterns


Jon Foreman uses an image of “broken cisterns” in his song “Cure for Pain” that grabbed my attention:

I'm not sure why it always goes downhill
Why broken cisterns never could stay filled
I've spent ten years singing gravity away
But the water keeps on falling from the sky

And here tonight while the stars are blacking out
With every hope and dream I've ever had in doubt
I've spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes

It reminded me of another use of that image found in Jer. 2 

for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
that can hold no water.

Both uses of this image got me thinking. It is a wonderful image. Cisterns are vital for the storage of water. Leakage is a threat to the water supply. As long as the water continues pouring in to the cistern at a greater rate, we do not feel threatened. But what happens when broken cistern can’t stay filled?

We are the cracked cisterns. We leak. We may sing our doubts away. But the doubts come. We leak. Our sinfulness creeps up on us and surprises us in our weakness. We leak. And I began to wonder: is there ever a time in my life when I will stop leaking? Not really. As long as sin and temptation accompany me in my journey, I leak.

And so I need regular filling. The fountain of living water, the river of life, needs to keep filling this broken cistern. I may not learn anything new when I read the Scriptures. I may not sing my favorite songs when I attend church. But these routine and ordinary parts of my life are means of grace, means through which Jesus pours the gift of water of life into my broken cistern. I may not be able to ‘sing gravity away’ or take away cracks of my sinful heart, but the wonder of God’s love is that he pours grace into my life and gifts me with the encouragement of the Spirit.

Knowing God’s grace in Christ, this fountain of life for us, is hopeful. I may leak but God’s grace is sufficient. I am leak but God’s generous supply will be sufficient for me. As Jon Foreman sings

Oh my Lord, to suffer like You do
It would be a lie to run away. 

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