Living Water

The ancient prophet Jeremiah bemoaned the spiritual state of his people, which he attributed to two poor decisions:

  1. Forsaking “the fountain of living waters”
  2. Building for themselves “cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water”

(Jeremiah 2:13, Jeremiah 17:13)

Lehi, who was a contemporary of Jeremiah, had a dream in which he saw the tree of life. His son Nephi explained that the tree of life in his father’s dream was also “the fountain of living waters,” and he explained the symbolism of both:

…which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.

1 Nephi 11:25

Near the beginning of the Savior’s mortal ministry, He used Jeremiah’s metaphor in a conversation with a Samaritan woman. He was sitting on a well outside the city of Sychar, and she had come to draw water. He asked her for water, which she found strange, “for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Then, He revealed His divine identity with these words: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” John 4:10. Not understanding His meaning, she asked, “From whence…hast thou that living water,” and He explained by contrasting the water in the well with the living water He offered:

Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 4:13-14

The Lord further clarified this promise in an 1831 revelation:

Unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life.

Doctrine and Covenants 63:23

We drink by keeping His commandments. As we do so, He gives us spiritual knowledge. I love the imagery of that spiritual knowledge “springing up” like a fountain, not merely sitting underground, waiting to be drawn.

Living water moves. It doesn’t sit still. The mysteries of the kingdom are not a stagnant knowledge base, received all at once and retained forever. Rather, they represent an ongoing flow of personal revelation.

The imagery of a fountain also suggests that the the water is shareable. Here’s how Sister Neill F. Marriott described it:

We want to be encircled in the arms of our Heavenly Father’s love and guidance, and so we put His will first and with a broken heart plead that Christ will pour streams of cleansing water into our pitcher. At first it may come drop by drop, but as we seek, ask, and obey, it will come abundantly. This living water will begin to fill us, and brimming with His love, we can tip the pitcher of our soul and share its contents with others who thirst for healing, hope, and belonging. As our inner pitcher becomes clean, our earthly relationships begin to heal.

Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach,” General Conference, October 2017

Today, I will turn my heart toward the source of living water: the Savior, Jesus Christ. I will remember that a constant flow of revelation from Him will not only bless me but will also benefit others.

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