So many things happened in the wake of that event that still leave me and every other Cantabrian who experienced it shook up and I don't think any of us will go back to the way we were before.
Within days of the event, all the neighborhoods got given the most basic of necessities - Water. Many of us on the East side (and some on the West side) lost our electricity and plumbing for two weeks. When you lose electricity and plumbing, your life becomes suddenly so focused on one thing - get water. I think so many of us took it for granted. Water became the focus of our lives. We needed it for toileting, washing, and cooking. And our lives revolved around how to keep those three uses separate for our own healths sake.
Personally I had spent the last 4 years coming close to the brink of a nervous breakdown over my education, my future, my plans. Enduring those two weeks and the weeks that followed somehow very suddenly simplified my life and my school issues and school related stress suddenly became obsolete:
- Walk the couple of blocks to get water with giant empty containers.
- Fill up said containers from the water tanker provided
- Scratch head as one wonders how to carry giant heavy water laden containers home
- Put wide hips to use as containers are carried home
- Make breakfast for fiance and Mum on the gas bbq (we thankfully had!)
- Heat water in a pot on the bbq
- Carefully wash any dirty dishes with as little water as possible
- Walk to the beach nearby, jump in surf and wash off sweat from body and wash hair with some shampoo I took along.
- Discover 3 days later that because of the earthquake, human excrement from the sewage plant got into our local beach waters. Doh. I couldn't even enjoy the ocean after that.
- Next day, wash in beach and avoid water in eyes or mouth.. No reported sightings of poo.
- Spend rest of day reading, listening to radio, using up water supply and digging a toilet in our back yard.
- Go to bed at sun down.
- Repeat process.
What on earth am I getting at here?
In Jesus day (and still in many places around the world today) peoples lives revolved around water. For us Westerners, the presence of water is still around us but more subtle - our morning hot shower (water), our wake up coffee/tea (water), the fruit smoothie we drink after the gym (sort of water), the food we cook for dinner (most likely using water), the hot chocolate we give our kids before bed - water water water. Because of my 2 week post-earthquake experience I feel I now have a tiny understanding of how precious it is and how hard we need to work for it on a daily basis. Take away water at the most basic level and watch peoples lives and hearts disintegrate. I recently watched a reenactment of Mel Gibson's 'Mad Max' at the movies, and while there were many components of the movie that were stupid and a bit too gross for my tastes there was a common theme that I found interesting in that it affected all the characters, the need and control of water.
If the director was trying to portray the epitome of an abusive and evil leadership, I thought they did a good job (watch video here). I spent the entire movie disgusted by the appearance and behaviour of the pale fat Darth Vader guy. Perhaps his outside was representative in his inside as well. Because he owned the water, the people depended on him to survive and unfortunately that likely led to worship and cult leadership and practices. I was disturbed by his statement of "Do not depend on water, for you will resent its absence." After cruelly pouring out momentarily a huge waterfall of fresh water to people who not only look thirsty but miserable yet hopeful as well. We all know his statement is ridiculous. We NEED water. For life to survive, any life, we need water.
Jesus knew this. That's why he called himself "Living Water" (John 4:10). Thats either a true or a dangerously arrogant statement to make, placing oneself in the same necessary category as fresh water. He was saying that human existence needed him to thrive. Thats why the religious Jew's tried to stone/arrest him numerous times, because to them it was a statement of his equality with God. To them it was blasphemy. Jesus also declared that he was there at the creation of the world and he was there during the time of Abraham and Moses. Hes saying he invented the water. When asked by one who he was and what authority he had, he said "I Am." (John 8:57-59) If you're not familiar with the Old Testament, he was pretty much saying that it was he in the burning bush, he that led them through the wilderness through Moses, he that provided food and water to the Israelities.
To many people (and still today), these statements offend greatly. I feel we're now in an age that reflects early Roman times where multiple gods are celebrated and worshiped in supposed "freedom" and those who disagree and point to one man from Galilee are crushed.
For me personally Ive seen and tasted the other side, the side where I am constantly thirsty and I have no comprehension of Christ's achievement. I run after this and that and Im not safisfied. I know this is true for others because the magazine rack at the checkout lane supports this. Since the invention of the Women's mag (and more lately Men's mags) and the conglomerate giant that is Oprah (and her other cohorts), I see there is a constant drive to sell what will work in peoples lives and give them meaning. And they always sell because why else are advertising willing to spend billions on ads in those pages or our tv screens? And I know they have never found what they claim, for if they had they would state it in one edition and would be the only magazine on the rack. I see constant slogans of "Better sex!" "Better money!" "Better contentment, peace, joy, compassion" etc etc. As US the band says "And I still haven't found... What Im looking for."
On the other hand, the bible I read has not changed since it was put together and has forever stayed on the best seller list. Perhaps thats why people hate it. Same old, same old they say. What if same old works? What if "Same old" tells me its not about what I in my imperfect flawed self cannot do but what someone else has perfectly done on my behalf?
The bible says those who don't know Christ are building broken cisterns and then drinking from it (Jeremiah 2:13). In other words they're drinking from something like a toilet. Quite often Im told as a Christian that someone would respect me a whole lot more if only I would shut up about Jesus and the bible. To me (and hopefully every other Christian out there), thats like standing back while someone says "Leave me alone! I consent to and desire to drink from this toilet in my own freedom!" Some freedom. Would a parent do that with their child? Do we even let our pets drink from the toilet? Eww no.
You might not like it but I know that the people who care about you are the ones that don't shut up about Jesus, the ones who offend you are the ones who care about you. The ones that shut up and keep quiet - they are the hypocrites. You might not think so but I think Jesus will. Another example is seeing someone walk in a desert and you just happen to have keys to an icy cold cooler full of fresh water. You'd be a big prat if you didn't share it. Thats just how we see it.
What are you thirsty for? What water are you drinking? Is it working? At the end of your life will you think to yourself, that (insert thing here) was so worth it. Im so glad I dedicated my time, wallet and learning it.
Paul in his letter to the Phillippian Church (3:8) said - "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ."
Jesus came off as extremely offensive when he referred to himself as living water (among other things) and they killed him for it. As a Christian, I am reconciling myself to the fact that no matter how nicely or respectfully I speak my faith I will offend people and they will want to hurt me for it. Thats fine. Let me just say, its worth it. When one witnesses a person switching from toilet water to pure water, just the look on their face is worth it.