“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (John 7: 37-38)
The little South Alabama town where I grew up in the 1960s has a natural phenomenon that was responsible for some of my most delicious memories. The story is that around the early 1920s some speculators believed there was oil hiding under the town’s surface. In drilling for oil, however, they discovered an enormous artesian well (definition: an underground spring that naturally spews to the surface without a pump). At around 1500 feet below, a subterranean spring began to spout 100 feet into the air and has continued flowing until this day—producing 1200 gallons of water a minute. A new above-ground lake was born on that day. But someone had the forethought to harness some of that naturally flowing water and funnel it into an enormous swimming pool. It was in that pool that I learned to swim.
The water was cold even in the long summer months. Since the water came straight out of the ground through a large pipe, and then into the pool, the water was always fresh. And it was recirculated by leaving the main pool, flowing into the “baby pool” and then into the lake. The main pool emptied and refilled itself every two hours. The pure H2O contains 27 nourishing minerals which are beneficial to life.
The whole Lake Geneva complex, with dance floor, snack bar (and even a cage for a pet monkey) was privately owned and immaculately maintained. I can still feel the shock of jumping off the diving board into the water below. It almost took my breath away. And on those hot, humid southern days, the temperature contrast was even more pronounced…and welcome.
Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if those drilling for oil had actually found it, pumped it out, and sold it. Somebody (or their heirs) would now be counting their money and the whole town’s economy would have taken a different path. I also imagine the disappointment that the prospectors had when that drill went down and hit water instead of oil. The use of fossil fuels has come under fire in the last several decades, so one can only speculate that the boom would have died out at some point and the dream of prosperity with it.
However, what riches we’ve enjoyed for a century all because of a failure to achieve the initial goal!
That’s the point here. The “weeping prophet,” Jeremiah, was God’s mouthpiece to the ancient Israelites, and mostly with warnings of gloom and doom. Here, however, is one of his more positive prophecies:
“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Maybe I’m reaching (or digging) for a metaphor here, but the memory of the artesian well keeps coming back to me in fresh ways.
Isaiah, my favorite prophet, reported that God said. “I will open rivers on the barren, and springs in the middle of the plains. I will turn the desert into a pool and dry land into springs.” (Is. 41:18)
I’m thankful for the well-spring that one beautiful excavation mistake created for me. I’m looking forward to how God will unearth deep-flowing truths to me, and to all of us, that will bubble to the surface.