In this life we experience toil, uncertainty, shortages, and disparity; the greatest concerns being access to clean water, food, and medicine. It is said that once these are secured, then culture can really develop. With the basic bodily needs in hand, people may then learn, create, explore, etc.
The prophet Ezekiel’s vision illustrates the glory of God’s kingdom where everything we need will be provided. Thus, a bountiful flowing stream of fresh water, trees that bear fruit regularly and with medicinal leaves. (The only thing people today might add to God’s paradise would be stacks and stacks of toilet paper!) In such conditions, we would spend our eternity walking and talking with God, enjoying relationship with Him and each other in mutual love. Take a moment to imagine that.
As simple as food, water, and medicine are, they bring comfort and security. We can rely on God as a loving Father and Creator to provide these things. This childlike trust reminds me of when my dad first took my daughter on a short outing together just the two of them. She got thirsty and asked for some water but he didn’t have any in his vehicle. “How about a granola bar then?”, she asked. Nope, not that either. In all of her little life experience, she had never traveled without those things on hand. She kindly advised her grandpa that her mom always has a bottle of water and snacks in the car just in case. As she pondered a little more she said, all a person really needs is some water, a snack, and snuggles. How right she was we all thought!
In the Gospel of John Jesus adds to our three major needs, the most serious and important need of all – healing from sin and the grace to change one’s life. Although healing waters were merely steps away, the sick man could not enjoy it due to his illness. In the same way, sin separates us from God and distances us from His kingdom. We soon become thirsty, hungry, and even more ill. If left too long it may seem we are too sick to do anything about it.
Although we try to “work” on our bad habits and sin during Lent, the truth is God is the giver of grace and the one who provides. Jesus came to the sick man and He comes to us as well. For our part, we need to be open to receiving Him. This requires some silence, some listening, and prayer. Once we encounter Christ’s healing touch, He gives us the same exhortation that He did to the sick man by the pool – to cooperate with grace and change.
God provides grace for our spiritual lives as medicine for our sin, drink for our spiritual thirst, and food for our spiritual growth. Like a good Father, He always has it on hand, along with the the love.
Do not be afraid to live your faith whole-heartedly! Contrary to Satan’s lie that following God will mean missing out on life, it will produce just the opposite. Life with God is abundant, joyful, freeing, and loving. Yes, you will have to pick up your cross today and suffer as you battle sin, but it will bear eternal fruit in heaven and even begin to bud with springtime joy here on earth. The wood of the Cross had become the tree of life.