Lower the Bucket

By Dr. Harold J. Sala

Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  John 4:13-14

The largest river in the world is the Amazon.  More water flows in its banks than flows in the Yangtze, the Mississippi, and the Nile rivers combined.  The mouth of the amazing Amazon is more than 90 miles across, and water from this great river creates currents as far as 200 miles at sea.

In bygone days, one of the ironies of navigation was that sailors in the South Atlantic could be caught adrift and helpless, their sails without wind, their gasoline supply exhausted.  Eventually, their water supply would be depleted as well.

On one occasion, according to Earl Palmer, that very thing happened to a sailboat that was becalmed and in desperate straits.  Those on board were dying for lack of water.  As a ship approached, they frantically signaled for help.  “Can you spare us some water?  Our sailors are dying of thirst!”  And back came the reply, “Just lower your buckets.  You are in the mouth of the Amazon!”

What an irony–men fainting for lack of water when they did not realize it was fresh water which kept their boat afloat.  I’ve been thinking of this very thing in relationship to people who are surrounded by those who know God and are committed in their faith, yet are suffering from spiritual drought–the college student who has grown up in a Christian home but goes to college and abandons his faith; the husband or father who watches his wife and family dress on Sunday morning and go to church while he stays at home; and the prodigal who turns his back on home and family to go the opposite direction.

“Our sailors are dying of thirst!” and back came the reply, “Just lower your buckets.”  Do you ever ask yourself, “What is it that keeps us from doing what we know is the right thing to do?”  Usually, it boils down to one issue:  pride, our unwillingness to admit that we are wrong and that we need forgiveness and help.

Sometimes we get thirsty enough to try almost anything, but there are other times when God in His kindness gently nudges us, or allows circumstances to get our attention so we “lower the bucket” and draw the water to assuage our spiritual thirst.

Dean Payne was like that.  Today he’s a successful businessman who finds time to be involved in his church and to serve a variety of other causes, including helping us at Guidelines.  Both Payne’s wife and two sons were Christians, but he didn’t need God.  After all, he was a corporate executive and getting along quite well without God or religion.  “I’m praying for you, Dad,” his son Bob used to say, something that Payne didn’t particularly appreciate.

Then, Payne’s world was shattered as the son lost his life in an accident which tore the fabric of his life apart.  It was then that Payne realized that God was all around him waiting for him to let Him invade his heart.  He did, and it changed his life.

There is something about God which needs to be said:  He’s a gentleman who respects your will.  He never forces Himself upon you, but He invites you to reach out for His help.  So many, like the sailors in the little boat in the mouth of the Amazon, are dying of thirst, when they are surrounded by people who care, who are praying for them, and want to help.

Lowering the bucket into the sea of faith isn’t always easy, but it is the only solution.  Jesus put it:  “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:13).

Why be overcome with thirst, when you can “lower the bucket?”  Think about it.

Resource reading: John 4:1-26.


Dr. Harold J. Sala, well known speaker, author and Bible teacher, has served as founder and President of Guidelines International, Inc., since 1963. He is the featured speaker on the daily “Guidelines-A Five Minute Commentary on Living” which is broadcast on over 1000 radio stations around the world and translated in over 15 languages. Author of over 40 books published in various languages and hundreds of publications. Residing in Mission Viejo, California, Harold and his wife, Darlene, have three adult children and eight well-loved grandchildren.

Used with permission from Guidelines Philippines, Inc. To learn more about Guidelines and the ministry, please write to Box 4000, 1280 Makati City, Philippines or e-mail address box4000@guidelines.org. You may also visit the Guidelines website at www.guidelines.org.

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