Throughout the villages in the hills of Rwanda, there’s a lack of running water.
Pipes don’t run through mud-and-sticks huts, and they definitely do not run beneath the dirt roads that are overrun by goats and cows. Even if there is a source of running water, it is most likely undrinkable until it’s boiled over an outdoor charcoal stove.
To get water in Musanze, families walk– often for miles– to a centralized water pump in town. There, they wait in line to fill up large, yellow jugs to take back to their homes. Girls not yet 10-years-old strap the weighty containers onto their backs or balance them onto their heads for the return journey in bare feet. In any one day, the trip can be made multiple times, rain or shine.
Every day, I pass by dozens of men, women and children with those yellow jugs on their heads. I always wonder where they’re coming from and how far they have to go; if their body aches under the weight of the water…
And each time I see one of those yellow containers, I wonder if perhaps I too often fall under the same struggle in my own life… Thinking I have to climb mountains or trek for miles in order to have a sip of Living water.
Over and over again, I’m like the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar. Unable to see past my own brokenness, I believe the lie that the shame of my past dictates who I am and how I am loved in the present. Unable to see past my own inabilities, I succumb to a spirit of fear and insecurity, falling under the delusion that I have to do it all on my own. Unable to see past my own thirst, I feel the need to satisfy parched lips on my own time, on my own accord.
I journey on with that one-track mindset day after day, tirelessly and meticulously thinking the water pump is just over the next hill. I hope that maybe I’ll “work off” my sin with this mile; wash away my failures with the water I find around the bend. While the Giver of Life strides quietly behind me, holding out cupped hands containing an eternal wellspring of Life, I choose to stumble on towards the mirage in the distance. He whispers, “Whoever drinks the water I give her will never thirst,” but under the weight of that yellow container, I’m convinced that I have to make it to the world’s water pumps in order to lay down the burden.
It’s exhausting. And so incredibly unnecessary. As I watch young Rwandans struggle up the mountainside with their jars, my eyes wander down their dark, lanky frames to dirt-caked bare feet…
We are on holy ground.
We are surrounded by holy ground and surrounded by His Presence and Living water bursts forth from every nook and cranny of this earth, washing away the dirty, dusty realities of who we are and cleansing us no matter how many miles away we stand from the town water pump.
We simply choose whether or not we allow ourselves to be drenched in that flood of Grace. We choose whether or not we abandon our water jars to dance instead in the waters of mercy and redemption.
Christ destroys the need for that centralized water pump because He offered Himself as Living water. He’s already laid His own system of water pipes and running water throughout Rwanda, throughout the world. While it’d be easy to pity those without shoes, I think the Rwandans have it right when they walk around in bare feet…
Because those fetching the life source for their families tread lightly as they walk on holy ground; a daily reminder that we have been given unlimited access to the source of Life for now and forevermore.
“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”” -John 5:28-29