Patricia Hofer

Trying to save ourselves…

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (NIV Jer. 2:13). The prophet Jeremiah can be a difficult read. He is often railing against the sinfulness of the children of Israel—and by extension, our sinfulness. That’s because we live in a natural world filled with broken things: broken alliances and trusts, broken hearts, and aging and broken bodies. Of course, none of us starts out with the intention to rely on a “broken cistern.” 
Eventually, though, as much as we scramble, sooner or later we all fail and we all fall. When that happens, maybe we need to take some advice from people who ride horses or are active in sports. Rather than thinking they can avoid falling, they learn that there is an art to falling, a skill that helps them avoid serious harm when it happens. The key during falling, they say, is not to resist but to relax—to tuck in our arms and legs and allow our bodies to roll in the direction of the fall. If we scramble to save ourselves, to avoid the fall, odds are that we’ll break a bone or injure ourselves. 
And for me, it’s this tuck and roll of letting go that God is asking us to do. When we focus on digging our “own cisterns,” as Jeremiah wrote so many centuries ago, we are trying to save ourselves. We’re trying to hold onto our current position in this natural life—our marriage or our job or our health or our money. We’re trying to turn these variable and undependable things into something that is stable and enduring.
But, as Jesus shows us, it is not willfully holding on but meekly letting go that saves us. When we surrender and open ourselves to it, the Lord’s “spring of living water” washes into our consciousness, filling our hearts with the life that does endure and with the strength that doesn’t fade. The living Saviour is right here, ready to free us and restore us and comfort us. It’s time to relax and roll into his embrace. (Living Strong 2014,

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