By Michael Guzman
In August of 2016 I climbed Mt. Whitney and stood on the highest point in the continental US. Seven days before ascending Whitney, I began the 59 mile journey from Crescent Meadow in the Sequoia National Park. Through narrow granite passes, over peak after peak, and across numerous creeks and rivers, I braved the High Sierra Trail with a group of friends. So many times I wanted to turn back, but after a while the way forward was shorter than the way back. We dreamed of the type of pizza we would order and the number of hot wings we would eat at Pizza Factory in Lone Pine after we finished the trip at Whitney Portal. All along the way we filled our canteens from water as close to the source as you can imagine. Now that I am a full two years away from the hike and the blisters are distant memories, I can picture myself doing it all over again.
Since that trip, I’ve studied the geography of Tulare County a bit more and have become better acquainted with the water that flows from the Sierra Nevadas into Central California. I remember camping the first night along Buck Creek. We crossed Kaweah River and saw how Hamilton Lake and Precipice Lake feed into it. We watched afternoon hailstorms blow through Big Arroyo and run down the granite peaks toward our tents. We traversed the longest, hardest descent I’ve ever been on to walk along the Kern River and enjoyed resting at Kern Hot Springs. We yelled like a wounded deer in the icy water of the Kern River near Junction Meadow and marveled at the shape of Guitar Lake and Hitchcock Lake as we summited the back side of Whitney. Along the way, much of the water was just a refill of my water bottle, but now I realize those waters bring life to Central California.
In Ezekiel 47, the prophet Ezekiel has just measured the Temple in great detail, when he is brought back to the doorway to see a stream flowing from beneath the entrance. Ezekiel is led from these headwaters to deeper and deeper water. It flows from the Temple to the Dead Sea. It starts out, like water near the source, only ankle deep, but it finishes like a raging river that is too deep to walk across. Wherever this living water flows, it brings life to what it touches. The Dead Sea becomes a fisherman’s honey-hole and the land near the water becomes a fruitful cornucopia. What the living water touches it resurrects, and it always flows to the lowest spaces.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” The Bible goes on from there to say, “When He said ‘living water’, He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him,” The Holy Spirit, the abiding Presence of God, is the same living water flowing from the Temple to the lowest places in Ezekiel’s vision. Where the Holy Spirit flows, He brings new life.
As I drank from the water along the High Sierra trail I was refreshed. When I soaked, after a long day’s hike, in the water of the rivers that feed our Valley, I was rejuvenated for the next day. After I swam in the clear lakes that feed Kaweah River I was revived. How much more am I refreshed, rejuvenated, and revived because the “same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in me!” (John 8:11)
Do you, like the Dead Sea, suffer from an unproductive life? Is your life struggling to bear fruit? Are you thirsty for more than what this world has to offer? Come to Jesus. He loves to give living water to those who thirst. It flows to the lowest spaces we may find ourselves. Don’t just fill up your canteen: Become a living water spring!
Michael Guzman is pastor of the Church of God of Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2631.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.