I remember coming in from recess on a hot spring day, sweaty neck and dirty knees, standing in line with a bunch of other matted-haired children for the drinking fountain. Hinging down and titling my neck at my turn, I couldn’t wait for that cool stream of relief to roll down my throat. To my dismay, all that escaped from the fountain was a paltry trickle. I could barely absorb enough to dampen my spongy tongue, so I walked away, unquenched and unsatisfied.
There is another story about a water fountain, and it’s found in the Bible. The prophet Moses had just led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. As they journeyed through the wilderness, God’s chosen people naturally became thirsty, but there was no water to be found. They griped and grumbled and gritted their teeth at God. Then God spoke to Moses and provided a solution. He commanded Moses to strike a rock with his staff, promising that water would come out. Moses obeyed and the people were no longer parched.
I have read or heard this story dozens of times, but I always imagined it more like my grade school water fountain. Moses strikes the rock and a tiny trickle travels down. But the Psalms paint a more realistic picture.
“[God] split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers.” (Psalm 78:15-16)
I don’t know why I thought a measly dribble would be enough for roughly a million people to drink and be satisfied in the desert. It would have taken days upon days for all of them to fill their vessels for a simple sip, much less to water all their animals and cook and clean.
Yet how often is this picture analogous to how we view God’s grace? Instead of water gushing forth into a river for a million, we see it more as a wimpy water fountain. It’s not really enough to satisfy us or take care of our needs, or so we think.
Even when I have seen the abundant streams of grace He has provided for me in the past, I still wonder if He can spread a table for me in the wilderness or even provide my basic necessities (Psalm 78:19-20).
“Yet He commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, and He rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. Man ate of the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.” (Psalm 78:23-25, emphasis added)
God rains down on us more grace than we could ever scoop up in our arms. It would be like trying to bend down and gather the entire ocean. This never-ending ocean of God’s grace is available to us, and yet we show up with a flimsy paper cup expecting that to satiate us for an entire day, week, or months.
If we want blessing, change, help in our time of need, and victory over sin, we need to show up with a bucket!
And God is very clear what vessels, or means, we should use to receive His grace . . .
hearing and reading God’s Word (the Bible),
God is ready and waiting to give us what we need, if we will simply take it. He says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10b).
We’ve probably all seen a baby being spoon fed. For their first few bites, you have to press the spoon against their lips and push your way past the gums until a little bit of food touches their tongue. But once they’ve tasted how good it is (unless, of course it’s peas), they begin to pop their little lips open eagerly and as wide as possible as soon as they see the spoon coming.
They are expecting something good. We should be like that as we taste with God’s grace. God longs to fill us with good things. His grace is good and nourishing to our souls, but we don’t open our mouths wide to receive His bounteous blessing.
Too often we are more like stubborn toddlers. The spoon is raised and immediately the lips are pursed and the head is shaken. They do not trust that the parent knows best or that what is held on the spoon is actually good for them. Sometimes they are being flat out rebellious in their own cute little way.
Similarly, if God’s people would stop being stubborn and insisting they know best but instead trust Him and walk in His ways, He says He would feed them with the finest wheat and satisfy them with honey from the rock (Psalm 81:11-16).
The true fountain of grace, however, is not found in the craggy side of a mountain, but in the true Rock, Jesus Christ. Streams of grace flowed from God’s hands, feet, and side as He was pierced for our transgressions. Rivers of grace flowed out of the body of Christ and onto the heavenly altar while sacrificing himself as the payment for our sins.
In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes of the immeasurable riches of God’s grace that are lavished upon us, but it is bestowed in no other way than through redemption and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. If you are to receive God’s grace, you must repent (or turn) from your sins and trust in Christ.
Paul writes of his life before encountering Christ, “Formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:13-16, emphasis added).
God’s grace doesn’t just trickle down; it fills to the brim and overflows! And it is available to all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So how thirsty are you? Will you show up with a cup or a bucket, or will you even show up at all? There is an endless ocean available. Pick up a bucket and drink abundantly at the fountain of Christ!