“Looking for love in all the wrong places” is a well-known country song lyric that singer Johnny Lee made popular. If you know this lyric you may be a child of the 70’s or 80’s since it was released on the Urban Cowboy album in 1980. While reading our Ashes to Fire scripture passage from Jeremiah 2:1-13 today it struck me that Jeremiah could have composed that line. Who knows, maybe the prophet Jeremiah was a Country Singer.
In today’s reading Jeremiah composes some lines that really helps us identify a huge blind spot that is very common. In fact, we might say that this blind spot is the mother of all blind spots. Jeremiah is called of God to proclaim not what the people want to hear, but rather what they really need to hear. God’s word for the people is straight to the point. The word is that the people of God had started their journey with great devotion and love for God, but that somewhere along the line they had strayed from their devotion and dependence upon God replacing him with worthless idols. The exact line is: “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves”. And then this penetrating line: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water”. Cisterns were reservoirs that held life-giving water in the arid land of the Middle East.
Jeremiah reveals that even Israel’s priests, prophets, and those who knew the law of God best were blind to the leakage of life that took place due to dependence upon their self-made idols. Idol making and worshipping was prevalent in the culture of their day. Many worshipped these gods in addition to giving lip service to the Lord because they held out the promise of fertility, success with their crops, and good fortune in life. The word of God through Jeremiah is that His people are looking for fruitful, successful, love filled lives in all the wrong places, and their very life is leaking out leaving them diminished and devastated.
Although we may not carve self-made idols of wood and stone to worship in our present day we are still tempted to place something, or someone in the place of the living God. How often do we look for love, fulfillment, success, true happiness, or our self-worth in all the wrong places? The one thing we know for sure is that the temptation to drink from cracked and leaky cisterns is as common today as it was when Jeremiah proclaimed God’s Word for God’s people. Whenever we begin to believe, or trust in, the things that our culture tell us will bring love, satisfaction, or result in success – money, fame, power, sex, and the list goes on – a blindness covers our souls. We become blind to the fact that anything we put in the place of God becomes nothing more than a leaky, cracked reservoir that will always run dry.
As we walk through this Lenten season many of us are fasting in order to strip away something that we commonly lean upon to fill our lives (food, Facebook, other sorts of media, etc.) so we can clearly seek after the One true source of living water, Jesus Christ! If we are honest, we are all tempted to look to other things (cracked cisterns) instead of the life-giving water of God’s grace that never runs dry. The Great News is that Jesus came to meet us in our mess. He came to remove the blind spots which are the illusions our idols create. Ask God to reveal any idols you may be depending upon instead of devoting yourself completely to Jesus and His love. Allow him to burn away the blind spots so he can lead you to the water that never runs dry. He loves you too much to allow you to drink from cracked cisterns that allow your very life to leak out! Also, you will not want to miss this coming Sunday’s message as we look at a woman who wrestled with blind spots that were keeping her from receiving living water. It’s a rather sordid story told by John recorded in John 4. It has all the makings of a great Country Song. Who knows, maybe John was a Country Singer as well.
Grace and Peace,
∼ Pastor Ron