The challenge for believers is not to have a river of living water flowing from us but in discovering and believing in all of who and what Jesus is.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
As a farmer’s daughter, water has always existed as something entirely central to life. I recall the times of drought as vividly as I recall the times of flood. It’s impossible to see where the awareness of water began, because it has somehow simply always been there. Like breathing, it simply is something we cannot exist without. This is perhaps why the imagery of living water portrayed in this verse has such appeal. I understand the ‘deep down’ truth of it as something more than a pretty picture. I instinctively equate water with life – though I acknowledge respect the destructive aspect of it too. For me, there is nothing more powerful and beautiful than the idea of being able to be a never-ending river of living water for thirsting humanity. It poignantly and profoundly captures the essence of Jesus – the resurrection life that flows from the throne of God Himself.
A river of living water is our purpose.
It’s perhaps a little daunting to think that we’re called to be vessels of this living water. If it were simply about us, it would likely be easier. But today’s verse specifically says a river of living water which flows out of us. We’re not simply a container. Our supply isn’t only for us. It’s a direct and unequivocal purpose to manifest God’s principle of multiplication. He intends that we manifest the abundance that is His nature as the great I AM. It’s a little sobering – and humbling – if we take the time to stop and check. Are we a cup, a reservoir, or a river? Do we truly flow, or are we merely a trickle, and that on a good day? Do we provide an abundance of living water for others to drink of, or can we barely sustain ourselves and perhaps one or two less demanding others?
These aren’t questions to beat ourselves with. Rather, they’re thoughts to encourage us to seek after the full purposes of God. The great thing about His purposes is that we can have absolute faith that they will always manifest. They aren’t dependent on who or what we are or are not. It’s God’s purpose, stated very clearly in our verse today, that we have a river of living water flow out of us. He doesn’t say may or should. He says will and for God, will means will. If we’re currently a mere drip or trickle, we can take heart from the knowledge that He Himself will work to bring His purposes to pass. Instead of dwelling on our current condition, we can joyfully look forward to the time when He has grown our meagre little supply into His something wonderful. He always accomplishes what He purposes.
The source of a river of living water in us.
This, of course, is Jesus. He is our perpetual spring which never dries up, not even in our driest desert season. His is abundant living water, sufficient for the needs of all. He is the river of life that comes from the very throne of God – pure, unending, and supernaturally empowered. When we are thirsty, we simply need to turn to Him and drink. He is a free gift of grace, neither earned nor deserved, and given without reservation. This brings us to another awesome truth. We have Christ in us. Then we have the source of a river of living water in us, too. It’s not something separate from or outside of Him that He doles out to us by the bucketful. Jesus is the living water. If He is in us, the water is too. Our little drip or trickle is connected directly to limitless supply.
What this means is that we’re automatically tapped in to unlimited potential – no pun intended. The source is there and we’re already connected. This has some powerful implications. The first is that we don’t ever need to run out. We have no reason – or excuse – to run out. If we do, it’s because we’ve been distracted and forgotten to open the tap, or we’ve inadvertently closed it. The river of living water doesn’t suddenly dry up. It can’t. It’s supernatural and eternal, and once it’s in us, it’s in us. If Jesus is there, the water is there. We don’t have to limit ourselves to a glass or two here and there. It’s free, it’s abundant, and it’s eternal. We can plunge in immerse ourselves in it if we have a desire to. We can be cleansed and refreshed every moment of every day without limit.
A river of living water from us.
But it also means that there is no reason why this same river of living water should not flow out of us. The source of the living water is in us, perpetual and abundant. God’s purpose is that it should flow out of us like a river. These two truths combined are – or should be – the deciding factor. It’s very simple and very practical. Yet, in reality, it seldom happens. Part of the problem, I believe, is that we somehow have a subconscious notion that we have to do the putting out. We therefore give what we are able to give, rather than what Christ is able to give. In our limited human capacity, we grow weary and too many demands seem to dry up the resources we have. This is true. We will never, in and of ourselves, have sufficient to meet the thirst of others.
The beautiful truth is that God desires not that we give of ourselves, but that we give ourselves. The first requires that we use what we have. The second means that we simply become a conduit for what God has. To have a river of living water flowing out of us is simply to be a river bed. The water flows through us and directs its own course. The great blessing, of course, is that no river leaves the watercourse untouched. All along its banks, life springs up. It feeds and waters and cleanses as it goes. In allowing ourselves to be used as God’s river bed, we are blessed with an abundance of supernatural life simply by having the water flow through us. We allow God to use us when we think Jesus, speak Jesus, and do Jesus. In all these things is eternal life.
Faith in Jesus and living water.
Today’s verse provides a solution to any challenges we face in receiving and releasing the living water. All we need to do is believe. The faith we need here, though, is not faith in the river of living water or that God will do it. That comes automatically because it’s His purpose. We need to believe in Jesus. This may seem superfluous because every Christian believes in Jesus. But the question is whether we believe in the whole Jesus or only a part. Our Christian walk remains coloured by perceptions, preconceived understanding, and natural expectations. It takes time for us to grow into a belief in the complete and perfect Jesus. To believe, we must know. Getting to know Jesus in all His fullness is a lifelong joy. Each new day brings new discoveries, revelation, and understanding. With these, our belief in Him is broadened to encompass more of Him.
To understand this, we must grasp the vastness that is Jesus. He is the visible manifestation of the Father, who is the I AM. In God is the desire, the will, the ability, and the power to meet every single human need. He is vast, immeasurable, and without limit. Jesus is the manifestation and fulfilment of all of this. Greater intimacy with and knowledge of Him releases more of Him. Christ can never be fully contained by any single human being. Like a cup, if we keep pouring, He must overflow. The more we know and believe in of the nature of Jesus, the more He will flow into and out of us. That’s because we become what we believe. When we believe Jesus, we become Jesus, and God’s purpose is worked out. We don’t have do. We have to know and believe.
To live for rivers of living water.
Poured out is a description that beautifully defines the life of Christ. It’s usually applied to His blood, which is a powerful truth. But it’s as appropriate to living water. To receive the living water, we must drink – take Jesus in. All of Him. Immerse ourselves in the Word and discover all we can about Him. Getting the river flowing is God’s purpose. Getting Jesus is ours. So many believers do not live the full resurrection life purchased on the cross, the abundant life that is Christ. We allow worldly expectations and human logic to limit the unlimited supernatural power of God to release all that He has promised. Living water depends on releasing the source. We must seek and believe in the whole Jesus, not just a part. He is still willing to pour Himself out as the source of life for us and for others through us.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your abundant life that You have given so freely. Forgive us for holding back and for not seeking You as the source and endless supply. Help us to know You more, to fully take hold of all that You are, and to live the resurrection life You purchased at such terrible cost on the cross. Reveal Yourself to us in greater measure so that we can believe in all that You are. Transform us into river beds through which Your living water can flow to the world, and teach us the full joy of Your salvation.