Broken Cisterns

by Gami Ortiz


The earthquake in Haiti last weekend has brought Haiti to mind a lot this week in my prayers and thoughts. I’ve thought about life there quite a bit and this particular memory came to mind.


In our house in Haiti, we had two water tanks up on the roof. Those tanks provided the water for every faucet in the house: the sinks, the toilets, the showers, etc. One tank was for upstairs and the other for downstairs. When there was electricity (either grid power or from our generator), we would turn the water pump on, which sucked water out of the well on our property and pushed it up to those two tanks. When the tanks were completely full, we shut the pump off and then the water was gravity-fed down into the house so that when we turn on the faucet, we would have water. As you can imagine, that meant that there were times when we went to turn the knob on the faucet and no water came out. Then, we would realize we needed to fill the tanks.


One night, I was getting ready for bed and recognized I used the last of the water to wash my face. So, I went downstairs and turned the pump on. We had grid power that night, so at least I didn't have to worry about starting a generator. I let the pump run for about 30 minutes and then shut it off and went to bed. The next morning, I woke up early and went on a 5k run. I got back all sweaty and ready for a shower. I turned the knob to the shower and nothing came out. I was very confused… I had JUST filled the tanks the night before! I climbed up on the roof and sure enough, the tank for upstairs was empty. Frustrated, I went and turned the generator on and then the well pump on and waited for the tank to fill so that I could shower. In the meantime, I did some investigating and found out that the valve to one of the toilets was stuck open, so the water never filled the toilet. The water just flowed straight through until the tanks were empty again.


That's what our attempts to satisfy our souls are like. We try to fill ourselves with other things that we think will fulfill our lives. The reality is that all those things are like "broken cisterns" that Jeremiah 2:13 describes. "For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." We may manage to fill it up for a little while and enjoy it. But soon, we're empty again and wanting to fill it up some more. And we go through that cycle of filling it up and it flows out, never satisfying us. Jesus is the only thing - the only ONE - that can truly satisfy. He promises us living water that produces a spring inside of us that satisfies.


This concept of satisfaction in God has come up more than once in our series in Ecclesiastes. Over and over, the Preacher tells us that all is meaningless. Another way to look at it is that nothing satisfies. Nothing except the love of God.


Sure, we crave more of Jesus, more of the Holy Spirit, more of God's power in our lives. We stay hungry for more of His word and His presence. But when we drink of this living water, we are satisfied in the sense that we have found meaning and fulfillment in life. We were created to glorify God and enjoy HIM forever. Not these other things that will never satisfy. Only God will ever fill that longing inside of us that will complete us, because that's the way He created us.


Lately, we’ve sung a new song, based out of Psalm 90 – “Satisfy us with Your Love.” This week, it’s been my daily prayer:


When the sun comes up, satisfy us

Before the day has passed us by

Before our hearts forget all Your goodness

Satisfy us with Your love