Broken Cisterns of Self and Shame

“I remember the devotion of your youth,
    your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
    in a land not sown.
Israel was holy to the Lord,
    the firstfruits of his harvest..
declares the Lord.

What wrong did your fathers find in me
    that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?..
I brought you into a plentiful land
    to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
    and made my heritage an abomination.
The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
    Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds transgressed against me;
    the prophets prophesied by Baal
    and went after things that do not profit.

My people have changed their glory
    for that which does not profit.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
    be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
    the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
    broken cisterns that can hold no water…

For long ago I broke your yoke
    and burst your bonds;
    but you said, ‘I will not serve.’
Yes, on every high hill
    and under every green tree
    you bowed down like a whore.
Yet I planted you a choice vine,
    wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate
    and become a wild vine?
Though you wash yourself with lye
    and use much soap,
    the stain of your guilt is still before me,
declares the Lord God

I will bring you to judgment
    for saying, ‘I have not sinned…’
You shall be put to shame [and] come away
    with your hands on your head.” Jeremiah 2:2-3,5,7-8,11-13,20-22,35-37

We push, push with do, do. We plan and finagle and edge our way forward on tracks we construct, in perpetual motion fueled by our pursuit of what it is we think we want, or need. And we find we are going nowhere, never arriving. We reshape God’s good provisions into false gods, and let our affections run rampant in lusty pursuit, spending our souls, never satisfied. We blur God’s glory, and distort that of man made in His image, redefining what is good into passions and trinkets with illusive sparkle. All the while we hew cracked cisterns and try to fill them with tainted water, forsaking life-giving water intended for a whole (and new) vessel. (John 4:10,13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17)


Why do we keep at it? The Lord instructs, and we shake off His help to flee our own way. Leaders called to teach conform to the world, choose their own platforms, and lead many astray. Fresh mercies and costly freedoms are shunned so egos can rule, pride can drive, self can be king. (Romans 12:2)

But God cannot be mocked; our sin will be found out. Jesus came to atone for our guilt and remove our shame. The Master Potter renews our minds and transforms our brokenness into noble vessels that carry His Spirit and light. Will we yield to His divine remaking, His holy filling? (Numbers 32:23; Jeremiah 18:6; Galatians 6:7; 2 Timothy 2:21)

Lord, I am Yours. Please shape me as Your cistern to pour out Your life. May others sip and see that You are good. (Psalm 34:8; Isaiah 64:8)

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