The largest river in the world is the Amazon. More water flows in its banks than flows in the Yangtze, the Mississippi, and the Nile rivers combined. The mouth of the amazing Amazon is more than 90 miles across, and water from this great river creates currents as far as 200 miles at sea.
In bygone days, one of the ironies of navigation was that sailors in the South Atlantic could be caught adrift and helpless, their sails without wind, their gasoline supply exhausted. Eventually, their water supply would be depleted as well.
On one occasion, according to Earl Palmer, that very thing happened to a sailboat that was becalmed and in desperate straits. Those onboard were dying for lack of water. As a ship approached, they frantically signaled for help. “Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!” And back came the reply, “Just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the Amazon!”
Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14
What an irony—men fainting for lack of water when they did not realize it was freshwater that kept their boat afloat. I’ve been thinking of this very thing in relation to people who are surrounded by those who know God and are committed in their faith, yet are suffering from spiritual drought—the college student who has grown up in a Christian home but goes to college and abandons his faith; the husband or father who watches his wife and family dress on Sunday morning and go to church while he stays at home; and the prodigal who turns his back on home and family to go the opposite direction.
“Our sailors are dying of thirst!” and back came the reply, “Just lower your buckets.” Do you ever ask yourself, “What is it that keeps us from doing what we know is the right thing to do?” Usually, it boils down to one issue: pride, our unwillingness to admit that we are wrong and that we need forgiveness and help.
Sometimes we get thirsty enough to try almost anything, but there are other times when God in His kindness gently nudges us or allows circumstances to get our attention so we “lower the bucket” and draw the water to assuage our spiritual thirst.
Dean Payne was like that. Both Payne’s wife and two sons were Christians, but he didn’t need God. After all, he was a corporate executive and getting along quite well without God or religion. “I’m praying for you, Dad,” his son Bob used to say, something that Payne didn’t particularly appreciate.
Then, Payne’s world was shattered as the son lost his life in an accident that tore the fabric of his life apart. It was then that Payne realized that God was all around him waiting for him to let Him invade his heart. He did, and it changed his life.
There is something about God that needs to be said: He’s a gentleman who respects your will. He never forces Himself upon you, but He invites you to reach out for His help. So many, like the sailors in the little boat in the mouth of the Amazon, are dying of thirst when they are surrounded by people who care, who are praying for them, and want to help.
Lowering the bucket into the sea of faith isn’t always easy, but it is the only solution. Jesus put it: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:13).
Why be overcome with thirst when you can “lower your buckets?” Think about it.
Resource reading: John 4:1-26