Standing on the Jordan-side banks of the Jordan River I could hardly contain my excitement. I felt shaky with adrenalin and a joy that was manifesting itself in an open-mouth, squinty-eyed smile on my face. How could a simple body of water invoke such strong emotion? It was a small river, what this Southern girl would even call a creek. And directly across from where my feet were planted I could clearly see an Israeli guard station, flag flying proudly and soldiers watching carefully. No white-capped rush of rapids here, not even a significant current to focus on. But standing here, watching the bull rushes sway gently in the breeze, ‘listening’ to the quiet, I was consumed with the reality of the Word of God. Jesus stood here. In the flesh. Bare feet and soaking wet hair, Jesus was baptized in this same water! Looking around, it occurred to me that the voice of His Father from Heaven breaking this calm stillness must have sounded like thunder.
Leaving my hotel room earlier that morning, I had grabbed an empty water bottle for the express purpose of retrieving 16 ounces of the Jordan River. And now I held in my hands my very own, very personal bottle of history. Jesus said throughout the book of John that He was in fact “Living Water” and those words had never seemed more alive than in that moment. Thrilled with my accomplishment, I carried my bottle up the path and set it down on a section of deck railing to wipe off the excess water. Sealing the cap with masking tape, I placed the bottle in my handbag for safekeeping until I could nestle it safely in my luggage for my trip back to the States. Struck by the sight of my bottle sitting on that simple plank of wood, surrounded by beautiful shade trees, I quickly snapped a picture to send home to my children by email. They had enjoyed being able to see where I visited each day during my trip to the Middle East.
Not until I was back on the tour bus editing pictures on my digital camera did I realize what had been captured in that photograph. There to my surprise was the bottle’s label, clear as a bell, proclaiming Truth in a way only God could orchestrate. Pure Life, the label read, plain white words on a simple blue label. And there, in those 16 ounces of water encased in clear plastic, was a profoundly personal moment for God and me.
Pure Life – the kind of Life that only Jesus can offer. He IS pure life, reaching out to those in need – those who hurt physically, emotionally, and spiritually – offering the pure life of a personal relationship with Him. Alive and real. Not a life that looks pure on the outside, but a life that is pure on the inside because of His sacrifice, His obedience, His heart.
A few days later, my bottle and I made it safely home. It now sits on a shelf in my office where I am reminded that God delights in surprising us with His presence. We need only slow down long enough to look for Him to realize that He is everywhere. I am awed by the realization that the God of the Universe so passionately desires to make Himself known to us. Pure Love. Pure Life.