But there may be a deeper meaning to our thirst and fatigue. John Sanford paints a picture of this in his description of an old well that stood outside the front door of a family farmhouse in New Hampshire. The water from the well was remarkably pure and cold. No matter how hot the summer or how severe the drought, the well was always a source of refreshment and joy. The faithful old well was a big part of his memories of summer vacations at the farmhouse.
The years passed and eventually the farmhouse was modernized. Wiring brought electric lights, and indoor plumbing brought hot and cold running water. The old well was no longer needed, so it was sealed for use in possible future emergencies.
But one day, years later, Sanford had a hankering for the cold, pure water of his youth. So he unsealed the well and lowered a bucket for a nostalgic taste of the delightful refreshment he remembered. He was shocked to discover that the well that once had survived the severest droughts was bone dry! Perplexed, he began to ask questions of the locals who knew about these kinds of things. He learned that wells of that sort were fed by hundreds of tiny underground rivulets which seep a steady flow of water. As long as the water is drawn out of the well, new water will flow in through the rivulets, keeping them open for more to flow. But when the water stops flowing, the rivulets clog with mud and close up. The well dried up not because it was used too much, but because it wasn’t used enough!
Sanford observed that our souls are like that well. If we do not draw on the living water that Jesus promised would well up in us like a spring (John 7:38), our hearts close and dry up, and we find ourselves in our “eighth season.” The consequence for not drinking deeply of God is to eventually lose the ability to drink at all. Prayerlessness is its own punishment, both its disease and its cause. That’s the deeper meaning to our fatigue in the ministry.