I came across one of my favorite illustrations again this week. It is supposedly true, though the fact that I read it in something a preacher wrote makes me a little suspicious of its validity. Either way, it illustrates a simple, yet profound truth.
The story is about one of the great heroes of World War I, a British army lieutenant man named T.E. Lawrence. You may have heard of him–Lawrence of Arabia–since his life story was depicted in the 1962 epic film by the same name.
After the war, Lawrence was in Paris with some of his Arab friends. He showed them the sights of the city: the Arch of Triumph, the Louvre, Napoleon’s tomb, and the Champs Elysees, but none of those impressed them. The one thing that did interest them the most was the faucet in the bathtub at their hotel room.
They spent much of their time in the room, turning the water on and off. They found it amazing that one could simply turn a handle and get all the water he wanted. Later, when they were ready to leave Paris and return to the Middle East, Lawrence found them in the bathroom with wrenches trying to disconnect the faucet.
“You see,” they said, “it is very dry in Arabia. What we need are faucets. If we have them, we will have all the water we want.”
Lawrence had to explain to them that the effectiveness of the faucets did not lie in themselves but in the vast reservoirs of water to which they were attached. And even beyond that it was the rain and snowfalls of the Alps that produced the water for the reservoirs.
It’s a funny story, and almost a century later it sounds downright silly in our enlightened world. But I wonder how often we settle for the faucet, spiritually speaking, when it’s the “living water” we really need. It is the human condition that makes us prone to substitute the instrument for the water that Jesus promised would quench our thirst. And so, we focus more on externals than internals, on form instead of substance.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink,” Jesus once said. “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38) That is his invitation even still.
ok forward to seeing you Sunday.