Do you know the difference between dead and living water – by Rev. Heather McCarrel

photo by Kevin Garcia/Unsplash

Do you know the difference between dead water and living water?

I learned about dead water from one of my sons who had worked for the local Conservation Authority.  One of his duties was to run tests on remote creeks and waterways. If they proved to be “dead water” then a crew would work to revive the creek back into “living waters”.

Simplifying the terms my son explained that some creeks may look lovely with clear and sparkling water but these creeks cannot sustain life, nothing lives in them and as such they are classified as “dead water”.  In order to have “living water” there must be rocks, boulders and rocky pathways for the water to travel.  It is healthy and helpful for there to be barriers that impede the water’s pathway, because having a not-so smooth pathway causes oxygen to get into the water and this oxygen changes “dead water” into “living water”, making it possible for fish, frogs, and turtles to live in the water.

There needs to be twists, turns, rocks, bumpy pathways and big boulders to restore “dead water” into “living water” and that is the same in life.  It is when we know sadness, disappointment, struggles and all the other twists and turns that life brings that we are ready to receive “living waters”. It is in experiencing hardships that we are able to value a life sustaining relationship with God.

The woman at the well in the Gospel of John knew difficulties, she had 5 husbands, was an outcast from the Jewish faith simply by being a Samaritan and as a woman she was marginalized in the patriarchal society that she lived.  She knew hardship and it prepared her well to receive God’s gift of living waters.  She not only receives this living water but is so changed by the experience she cannot keep it to herself.  She runs back to her village and gathers everyone together so they too can receive this living water of hope, joy, and new beginnings.

I suspect many of us are seeking this living water right now.  This week we will arrive to the midway point of winter. For many this has been a difficult season due to days of isolation caused from COVID-19 restrictions and the deep freeze that has settled in.

So, next time you are frustrated over something that seems too difficult to overcome; stop and remember to wrap that difficulty in prayer and hand it over to the God of healing and life sustaining waters.  As the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “…knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”(Romans 5:3-5)

May you have the courage to ask for the living water that only God can provide.