Bad Water

by Jan 24, 2022Devotional

Last week I got to see the manuscript that a friend is having published.  My friend Bro. Robert Bryan, the father-in-law of Rhoda and Leah (Hays) Bryan, has put together chapters of incidents from his life to be printed in book form.  It was a special treat to be able to have a sneak peak at this manuscript.  Bro. Bryan has graciously allowed me to share a chapter with you today.  It’s a little longer than my usual devotional, but it’s worth it!

Many years ago as a small child, our family moved into this old farm house. After we moved in, we found that the water was bad. It was kind of off-color and had a foul smell to it, but as we continued to drink it, we got used to it.  It was just a matter of time until we didn’t notice the smell anymore and didn’t notice the taste and got used to the color.

It’s truly amazing what a person can get used to if they keep doing it long enough!

People would come over and make comments about our water; many wouldn’t drink it. But we were used to it. It didn’t bother us.

We must have had the immune system of a cast iron stove.

That particular summer, we had another drought. The heat was up in the triple digits hanging around 110°. Of course, everything was just hot and dying. The grass was all brown. Trees were all drying up. The creeks went dry.  The rivers went shallow and muddy.

It was at that time dad decided we were going to clean out our cistern. So, we went to town and rented this big water pump, to pump the cistern out. A cistern is large concrete container in the ground, where rainwater runs into for storage and water supply. Many times, a well will dry up, and somebody will turn it into a cistern.

After we had pumped out all the water we could possibly get out of it, we lowered a ladder down into the cistern. I went down the ladder wearing rubber boots that leaked badly.  The muck was about two feet deep and about 15 feet across in a round circle. The side of the cistern was hand-laid flat rock, held together by cement. The bottom was also flat rock, mud, and cement.

I had several five-gallon buckets. I would shovel them about halfway full, and Dad would pull it up with a rope and go empty it.  Meanwhile I would fill the other buckets. We had this rotation going on as I continued to shovel things out.

I found at the bottom of the cistern there were all kinds of dead creatures of various sorts. Skeletons of rodents and rats! There were dead mice floating around in the shallow water. Rotting carcasses floating in the muck.

While shoveling, I began to find what I thought was gravel, but it soon turned out to be just more bones and skeletons in the muck and mire that had sunken into the mud.

We had killed and skinned about every type of creature you could think of, but there were bones down there I didn’t recognize.  Some of them I’m sure could’ve been in a museum somewhere.

Of course after I had exposed the stuff while digging it up, the smell began to rise up, and it was very rancid. I began to realize that all that stuff I was seeing was also in the water we had been drinking.

It seemed odd that we didn’t notice it!

It seemed like the deeper I dug, the more junk that came up. After several hours, I began to get to the bottom of things, and there it was really bad!

Getting to the bottom of things isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. It’s usually worse.

Dad was lowering down five-gallon buckets of bleach water. I was rinsing down the sides and bottom while scrubbing them with the water. I washed it down, then mopped it up, and continued to re-wash and re-mop until we had it very clean. Finally, it was as clean as brand-new!  There was no more bad smell, and the only thing you could smell was fresh water and bleach!

Dad called this fellow in town to bring us some freshwater; he would fill his giant water truck and bring it out. The water he delivered was clear and icy cold.

He brought that big truck down our narrow lane, which was no small task, and backed it up to our back porch.  Inside the closed-in porch, at the far end of it, was the lid to the cistern.   We strung this big black hose across the back porch, all the way to the well top, then we lowered a few feet of the hose down inside the well. I stood at the well and yelled to dad that I was ready. My job was to stand on the hose to keep it from coming out. Dad yelled back to the guy at the truck, “We’re ready.”

So, he opened the valve and started this pump. When he did, that hose came alive! It jumped around like a mad snake, as the water came gushing through it. The end of the hose was swinging wildly and fanning out this avalanche of clear freshwater. The mist of that water came rising up out of the well. It felt so good. It was like a cool fog on our back porch. Outside it may have been 110° with everything dead and drying, but on the back porch we had a fog of cold fresh watery mist that filled all the house.

It wasn’t long until everybody was on the back porch, laughing and rejoicing and soaking up all that cool water. There seemed to be no end to it, and it felt so good. He emptied his whole truck into the cistern, which mostly filled it.

Even Dad and that man outside, standing in the heat, could feel that mist coming off the porch. They were enjoying the cool fresh mist also. They were laughing and cutting up like a couple of kids playing in the water. What a good time we were all having, bringing this freshwater into our house.

Once the well was all filled up, and the hose all rolled up, Dad turned on the water pump to the house. It chugged and jumped around a little bit because air was in the line. Then the old water started coming out of our faucets.  It was all murky and blackish, and Dad said, “Let everything run until it flushes out good.”

And flush it did! We realized the black gross water coming out of the lines was what we had been drinking all along! We had just gotten used to it.

But now with the fresh water coming out, giving us a direct contrast between the two, we saw very clearly what others had been telling us about, but we could not recognize.

Once we had seen the good clean cold fresh water coming out of those faucets, we had no desire to ever go back to what we called the dead water that used to be in our well. We wanted to wash everything—clothes, dishes, windows, floors. We all took baths and drank all the fresh water we could hold. Something about that good clean water made you want to drink all you could hold.

After that, we were always very careful to make sure that the top of the well stayed on and always monitored what was in it. We had found a good treasure, and we didn’t want to lose it.

That’s the same way it is when God deals with a person’s heart. You will do things you wished you hadn’t done.  You will say things you wished you had not said.  You will think of things that make your spirit heavy and the atmosphere heavy. You will always have a lot of regrets.

Others may come and talk to you about what you did, but you can get so used to what you do, and what you have become, until you don’t see what’s wrong with it anymore, and it won’t bother you.

Let me tell you, your view of things, looking outside, isn’t the same as the view of others looking inside! Like a bug in a jar. The bug sees eyes and noses of all the kids looking at him! But the kids see every intricate details of that bug and every move he makes!

When the Holy Spirit begins to nudge you about things in your life, it can get pretty hot, dry, and murky in your soul. At that point, you have a choice. You can just keep on going and live with the filth of your life, or you can clean up your heart.

Once you’ve pumped out all the trash of your heart and begin to realize what’s in there, it’ll make you want to keep digging right down to the bottom of yourself. You won’t want any of that stuff left in there. You will find all kinds of garbage and trash in your heart you did not know was there. You’ll be glad you started, and you’ll be glad you finished.

This is the picture of a soul getting saved. God will come and clean you up better than bleach water! He makes everything new again!

That’s a real good start, but we are not done yet!  You have not yet been flushed or filled! You can get on the prayer line and call God up and ask him to come over and fill up your place with his blessed Spirit. But if you haven’t done your part in cleaning things up, he may not be very excited about dumping a truck load of good water into your septic tank. 

Works can’t save you, but it sure gets you ready! And what a time of refreshing and rejoicing that will be, not just for you, but everybody in the whole house will be glad you got some help. They will all be coming out and rejoicing in your victories and be so thankful for what God is doing for you. And as good as that is, you’re still not done. You need to start flushing out some “old water” and change the way you’ve been doing things. If you don’t, your “well” is going to become contaminated all over again.

The choice is yours.  You can be eating manna or maggots, and you can be drinking in salvation or sewage. Nobody is going to force you. The choice is yours.

Sooooo…….What’s in your water?




  1. Rachel

    WOW!! Just WOW!! That was wonderful!!

    • Elizabeth Hamilton

      I read it the other night for family devotions to my teenagers, and they wanted me to share it with everyone!

  2. Melinda Heyer

    I just wanted to say how much I appreciated this, and all your other devotions. 💖

    • Elizabeth Hamilton

      Thank you!

  3. Roberta Sarver

    That was worth reading! Excellent analogy.