I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. Isaiah 41:18 (ESV)
On a steamy July evening in Rome, my husband and I decided to walk from our hotel to the famous Trevi fountain. An ostentatious structure, it marks the end of a Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct was constructed in 19 BC to supply water from a spring to the thermal baths for the emperor Agrippa
A fountain stood at the end of the aqueduct even in Roman times. However, after the Roman Empire ended many features fell into disrepair. It wasn’t until the Renaissance that popes began decorating the ends of aqueducts with large richly decorated fountains in order to restore Rome’s reputation as a worthy capital of the world.
Their investment paid off. Centuries later hundreds of other tourists had the same idea as my husband and me. They, too, came to the fountain to watch the refreshing spring water spill into the aqua-colored pool below.
Fountains have significance in the Bible, too. In the book of Isaiah, the provision of spring water announced God was about to do something new.
See, I am doing a new thing! God says in Isaiah 43:19, I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
These were welcome words for God’s people exiled in Babylon. I imagine their hearts leapt with excitement as they listened to Isaiah proclaiming God would make the desert lush with springs, rivers and fountains.
Led into captivity, their land invaded by armies, and the holy city of Jerusalem overtaken, the people living in exile were more than desperate. Isaiah describes them as poor and needy who search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst.
In their anguish and longing, the people had cried out to God.
Then, the answer came. God would do something far greater than they could conceive. It would be like cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, junipers, fir and cypress trees flourishing where nothing normally grew.
God would make a new way to have a relationship with him. It would not be like the old agreement made with Moses. Then the people of Israel had to keep their side of the contract, but they had failed miserably in their commitment. As a consequence the curses had come upon them. Failure led them into exile.
However, now, God’s goodness and mercy would flow again. The new covenant would come with his Son, Jesus, and a commitment that could not be broken.
The new arrangement would not be external laws people had to keep, but an internal transformation of people’s hearts made possible by Jesus’ blood.
Jesus offered what Isaiah told. He said: Whoever comes to me will never be thirsty.
With the water Jesus provides, we never thirst. We have new life in every drop.
As we begin a New Year, be reminded of this refreshment. If you feel your situation is helpless, cry out to your heavenly Father. If the months ahead look barren, look to the Provider. If you feel a failure, turn to Jesus.
God promises to answer the prayers of his children who feel hopeless and in need. Refreshment comes from his Spirit dwelling within us.
God does amazing things in the desert of our lives. He makes springs of water gush within our hearts and souls.
What area of your life feels like a dry desert?
Have you truly poured out your need to God and trusted Him for new life?
What new thing would you love for God to do in your life this year?
Can you see a trickle of the stream He is making in your desert?