Many years ago my grandfather was negotiating the purchase of a field in rural Vermont. He wanted to build a vacation home, and saw a For Sale sign on a plot of land. The owner was Charlie Foster.
Charlie was a farmer, looking to sell a corner of his property he no longer needed. True to Vermont form, he was a man of few words: Why use sentences when a word will do?
The halting conversation turned to the spring on the property. My grandfather wanted to use it as a water-source for his planned house.
“Has the spring ever run dry?” he asked Charlie.
Charlie removed his pipe from his mouth. “Nope.” He put the pipe back in his mouth.
“Can you guarantee me it won’t run dry?” Henry Perry wanted to know.
Pipe out: “Nope.” Pipe back in.
Negotiation, Vermont style.
Few words or whatever, Charlie was simply stating the facts. Who can guarantee the future of a spring? Springs are all ultimately rain-dependent. They do not self-replenish.
With one exception. In John 4:14, Christ says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (ESV).
Water that becomes a spring! It doesn’t need to be replenished, because it is self-replenishing. It becomes its own source.
And notice where: Not in a Vermont field, but inside “whoever drinks”. It “will become _in him_ a spring of water.”
In him? In the man who finds out his daughter has cancer? A self-replenishing spring “in him”? Yes.
In her? In the confused 14 year-old who is pressured for sex – by her youth pastor? A self-replenishing spring “in her”? Yes.
In them? In the Argentinian Christians whose minister preaches against local drug lords, and days later see their building leveled by arson? A self-replenishing spring “in them”? Yes.
The water Christ gives us doesn’t make us numb. We will still face dismay and confusion and grief: things that are “common to man” (1 Cor 10:13). The water is not an anesthetic. It is water – but of the very best kind: internal (“in him”), sustaining (“never be thirsty”), and self-replenishing (“a spring…welling up”).
Will Vermont farm-fields give us that kind of water? Nope.
But Christ will.