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Imagine that you go to a friend’s house. They welcome you in, offer you a seat and then ask, “Can I get you something to drink?”
You say yes, and they go to the cupboard, retrieve a glass and then walk to the backyard. They’ve got a little raincatcher back there that drains into old milk jugs. You watch as they lift up one rain jug – it’s about half full – even from inside you can see the waterline when your friend pours the water into your glass.
As they’re coming back inside, you try to remember the last time it rained. Two weeks ago? Three? Your friend hands you the glass of cloudy water and looks at you expectantly.
You clear your throat and ask, “Uh, what’s wrong with your plumbing?”
Your friend looks confused. “What do you mean?” they ask.
You gesture with your glass. “I mean… is your sink broken? Are all your sinks broken?”
Your friend takes a long pull on their own cloudy water. They cough a little before setting their glass back down, which does not exactly inspire confidence in your own glass.
Still looking confused, they walk over to the sink and turn on the faucet. Cool, clean, clear water comes gushing out. They turn the faucet back off and say, “Nothing’s wrong with the sink. Why do you ask?”
I want you to picture yourself sitting there. Staring at that cloudy glass of stagnate rainwater you’re holding. Looking back at your friend, standing in front of a perfectly functional faucet.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s absurd.
I want to invite you to hold onto this image because it’s a (slightly updated) version of one used by the prophet Jeremiah to illustrate the profound absurdity of God’s people in his day.
Despite God’s presence among us, Jeremiah warns, we so often look to all sorts of other things for refreshment, for life.