Two Kinds of Water

I have a distinct childhood memory of my Mom, yelling out the window: “Stop drinking out of that hose, right now! If you need a drink, use the other one.”

To a thirsty kid, it made little sense, but eventually I understood what she was worked up about. In my hometown, we had two water systems.

The first, was what we called “City Water.” It was water that had been filtered, chlorinated and purified for consumption and use in the home.

The second was called “Weber Water,” Because it came from the Weber river. It was brought to the house directly from the river/canal system without being purified. It was not safe for consumption, and my parents constantly reminded us to not drink the “Weber Water,” as it could make us sick.

The two water systems looked different as well. The “City Water” came from a faucet that came out of the house, while the “Weber Water” came out of a red faucets that stuck up through the ground. It wasn’t long before I knew the difference.

Although it wasn’t pure enough for drinking, the “Weber Water” was great for watering the lawn, irrigating the garden and trees, washing cars, hosing off the driveway, etc. It was useful.

The “City Water,” was the stuff that we used in the house for drinking, cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc. It was the good stuff. Each system had its own uses and value. Obviously, the purified water cost more – because it was harder to create, and was of greater value.

We only have one water system where we live now, although I know lots of you still have two systems.

The reason I was even thinking about this is because last week, when it was raining, I saw someone post on Instagram, reminding reminding everyone to turn off their sprinklers to preserve water. (There’s a drought on, you know.)

One thing lead to another, and here I am waxing on about water, which, for a religious post, is perfect. Right now we are studying D&C 88, which gets into some teachings about how we are to find truth, and how to share it.

I would suggest that there are two types of water available to us as well, as we are learning and growing spiritually. The first, of course, is the “Living Water” that comes straight from the source:

Christ taught the Samaritan woman at the well about “Living Water.”

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life. (John 4:10-14)

The Savior also explained to Joseph Smith that, “But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, spring up unto everlasting life.” (D&C 63:23)

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught, “These latter days are a time of great spiritual thirst. Many in the world are searching, often intensely, for a source of refreshment that will quench their yearning for meaning and direction in their lives. They crave a cool, satisfying drink of insight and knowledge that will soothe their parched souls. Their spirits cry out for life-sustaining experiences of peace and calm to nourish and enliven their withering hearts.” (Link)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined living water as “the words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel.” He went on to explain, “Where there are prophets of God, there will be found rivers of living water, wells filled with eternal truths, springs bubbling forth their life-giving draughts that save from spiritual death.” (link)

Living Water is the best stuff. It comes straight from the source: God. It is pure, it is eternal, it has the power to save. It can heal, it can cleanse, it can give life.

So, if Living Water is the safe, pure water, what is the water that had my mom so worried?

Is it bad, evil water? I don’t think so. The other water that came to our home was good – it was useful. It served us well. It simply wasn’t the pure water from a source we could stake our lives on.

I think there is good, useful water all around us that isn’t necessarily the essential Living Water. While not straight from the source, and not completely pure, this second kind of water can be useful for us as well, and serve a purpose.

Here’s an example: Just last week I wrote about the TV show “The Chosen.” I really enjoy the show, but… is it 100% doctrinally sound? No. Is a lot of it just made up with creative license to make the show entertaining? Yes. Does it contain a TON of doctrine and scripture? Yes. Did it come from the pure source that is our Savior? No.

Is it useful and good? YES!

I would consider a show like the to be really good water, but not the best water. With technology we have easy access to so much information – so much water – that we need to be careful with what we are consuming.

I’ve been blogging for over ten years now. Even though I try my very best to doctrinally source the things I write about with scriptures of words of living prophets, I absolutely guarantee that I have shared some things that might not be 100% accurate. (It can happen – even to me!) I make no claims that this blog provides “Living Water,” but I do hope that I provide enough good water and a taste of Living Water to be of spiritual value for my readers.

These days are countless blogs, podcasts, online magazines, firesides, lesson prep websites and podcasts that all share water. The vast majority are doing their level best to share good water.

Here’s the problem: Sometimes it is much easier and more entertaining/interesting to turn to the good water for learning than it is to seek Living Water from the source. I get that, but it concerns me.

For example, there are many places you can go for additional information about Come Follow Me curriculum for lesson tips, etc. (You might notice that I rarely do that, because I feel it is the responsibility of the instructor to seek out the Living Water and how to share it with their specific stewardship.)

Recently I read a lesson prep for CFM that had lots of interesting ideas, but as I read it, I realized that there was not a single scriptural reference or citation from a living prophet to support what he was teaching. Nada.

How does that happen?

Then again, most self-help, parenting, and religious books can be good and helpful, and serve their purpose, but be devoid of Living Water that we so desperately need. Often they present really good water, but not the best water.

(Even worse, there is a third kind of water – there are many who share information intentionally trying to pull people further away from the source of Living Water. Elder Uchtdorf said, “As we all know, it is difficult enough to sort out the truth from our own experience,” he said. “To make matters worse, we have an adversary, ‘the devil who as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.’” (link) And he has plenty of help.)

Elder Uchtdorf also said, “The elusive nature of truth has been a favorite theme of history’s great poets and storytellers. … Now, never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information—some of it true, some of it false, and much of it partially true. Consequently, never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error.” (link)

What’s my point?

Simply this: In our pursuit of truth we need to drink from the source, the Fountain of Living Water.

We also need to be wary when plain old water is presented as Living Water from some alternate source. We need to make sure we consult the Author of our faith whenever a question rises.

Back to my example: There were multiple times when I was watching The Chosen that I opened my scriptures to double-check what I was watching for accuracy. Sometimes it was accurate, sometimes it wasn’t. I considered that to be good water leading me to Living Water, which I appreciate.

Another example: When preparing talks, lessons, blog posts, podcasts, etc that delve into spiritual truths, or when we are receiving good water in those ways, we need to make absolutely sure we are not assuming all of it is Living Water. We need to be skeptical. And studious.

If I am preparing a Come Follow Me lesson about D&C 88 today, my preparation beyond the manual needs to be almost completely sourced from Living Water, (Scriptures, teachings of the prophets, etc.) and maybe a small taste of some other good water to keep it interesting. I owe that to those I teach. If I spend all my prep time watching or reading someone else’s prep, then I am cheating myself and those I am called to serve.

We can never assume a source that is not sanctioned by God to be Living Water to be completely trustworthy – no matter the intent. Do I sound a bit cynical or distrustful – especially considering I’m just some dude with a blog? Most definitely. We must be discerning. How? The Holy Ghost.

Eder Uchtdorf mentioned that was well, “Because of the difficulty discovering truth amidst the competing noise in mortality, Latter-day Saints have the heavenly gift of the Holy Ghost to illuminate their minds and to teach and testify of the truth. The Holy Ghost is a revelator, a comforter, and a safe guide to assist all who seek God.

“It is my prayer that you will seek the truth earnestly and unceasingly, that you will yearn to drink from the fount of all truth, whose waters are pure and sweet, ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ I bless you with confidence in the Lord and a deep-rooted desire to rightfully discern truth from error—now and throughout your life.” (link)

The good water is useful, especially when it encourages us to go directly to the source of the best water, the Living Water. Good water is not enough – by itself – to give us what we need. Consuming only the good water might just make us spiritually sick.

Be careful out there!

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  1. We have primary and secondary water at our house. Secondary waters the lawn, primary fills the pool.
    This past weekend we hosted my EC’s family reunion (lots of activities in the area, kayaking at Willard bay and a day at Lagoon, and our home served as the hotel, there was literally no floor space left “in the inn”. Luckily it cooled down as the weekend progressed)
    Kind of funny that I am reading this Monday morning. My brother-in-law and I had this exact conversation yesterday just before they left.

  2. This same concept has been floating vaguely around in my mind lately. Thank you so much for putting a concrete image and doctrinal supports to it!

  3. Years ago, we went to Ephesus on a tour. The tour guide showed us THE well where Jesus spoke to the woman about living water. He was VERY insistent we drink from it, so we took a tiny sip. Yes, that water was living – with giardiasis!! That was 31 years ago, but that lesson will always be with us, and we will never forget. 🙄

  4. Wonderful post! I love your water references. Thank you for sharing such a well-written insightful article with beautiful quotes and scriptures.

  5. Thank you for sharing your insights and helping me to think about and see gospel teachings in new (to me) perspectives. Thank you for helping bring gospel principles to life.

  6. Loved this week’s piece! “Living water” as opposed to “good water.” A great analogy in pointing out that “good water” is not necessarily all bad and we have to be discerning as to our source. Thank you!

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