Saturday, January 9, 2010

Northern Stars and Well Water

Saturday, January 9, 2010 – Petrozavodsk, Russia – Republic of Karelia

It is a clear, albeit cold, night in Petrozavodsk. As we were walking back to the hotel I stopped by the lakeshore in the hopes to see the Aurora Borealis. However, we are not quite far enough north to see that amazing sight. Oh well, I guess I have to have a few things left on my “Bucket List.” Maybe during my next trip to Murmansk it will be clear enough; it was not last year during my first trip.

I am not sure that I have ever seen the stars in the way I did tonight. I must confess, I actually forgot about looking for the Northern Lights until I was walking back and something caught my eye. It was Mars. It is no surprise that I am pretty geeky anyway, but it was so cool to see this planet tonight. It just seemed to be popping out of the sky. And, there was no mistaking what it was. I have never seen it look so red. Really quite amazing. My favorite constellation is Orion, and he was easily identifiable as he crossed the northern sky. There is just something comforting about being in an unfamilar place, but seeing the stars from home.

I have been thinking a lot about water today. We met three women today as we were shooting stand-ups near the artesian well where the people from this part of town to get their water (yes, many places in Russia still do not have running water in their homes…fortunately, our hotel does.) One of them was sharing the history of the 45-year old well and she explained that the lake (which was about 500 yards away) has very dirty water. And, that the water which comes out of this well is very clean.

For the rest of the day, my mind has been consumed with the thought of how important clean water is. These women certainly recognize the importance of getting clean water and what it means for their own health and for the health of their families.

Quite some time ago in a place far from here, there was another woman who came to a well for water. Like these women, she met a stranger - a foreigner - at the well who told her that what she needed was “Living Water.” Of course, that man was Jesus. The Message version of the Bible says Jesus told her, “When you drink this water (from the well) you will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life."

One of the things that occurred to me today as I pondered the events of the day and the story from the Bible was this: our world is so polluted with religious messages. Many think they are getting what they need. They think that what they are getting is good for them. After all, who would think that water could be bad for you? Water is water, after all. However, these three women at the well today reminded me of an important fact. Getting water is not enough. To be healthy we must have clean water.

Let’s make sure that as we come into contact with people -- no matter what country, culture, or society you live in – that you are pointing people to a clean source of water, not just any puddle or lake. There are a lot of bodies of water that, on the surface, look clean. A walk through the streets of Prague will reveal many posters leading you to some of those different bodies of water as they offer better living through meditation, exercise, and a host of other religious options.

As Christians, we can put up signs and posters that lead people to Living Water. We can build fancy buildings that cover the well and hope that people will recognize that as a place to come to get the Living Water. We can build a water park and have events where we hope that people will be attracted to the fun and adventure of the Living Water. And, we can even spend our spare time updating our Facebook and Twitter status’ to talk about the blood of Jesus and hope that people will feel guilty for not having the Living Water. But, wouldn’t Jesus be happier if we just sat down by the well and invited our friends to join us as we share a drink with him? A drink of Living Water? Maybe then there would be more people coming to the well and less people pulling water from the lake.



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