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. (Jeremiah 2:13 ESV)
Jeremiah begins his book about how the people have turned from God and chased after idols. But the language here is revealing. The image he uses is living waters and cisterns. Cisterns were used to capture rainfall and hold it as a water source for later. The point of the imagery is that we look to the god we choose for that which gives us life, which sustains us day after day. Everyone has something that fits this description. This does not need be a statue, like the ancients made to represent their gods. It is whatever you spend your energies serving as a means of attaining worth and value and significance and love. So what it this for you?
Jeremiah describes the people as investing their energy into building cisterns to try and hold any water – what we are calling our sense of worth. But the cisterns are broken. The water that is captured leaks out and we are left with nothing. That is the worth and value and significance and love the world gives. It cannot be held onto for long because it is not real. It is convincing enough in the sense that it calls to us. But holding onto it is like trying to hold onto water with your hand. It slips away too fast to satisfy.
Lord, would you expose my broken cisterns and turn me instead to you that I might drink from the living waters that do satisfy.