When I was a boy, there was a place which always held a bit of mystery. A few miles north of where I grew up was a spring. We called it Flowing Well. Situated near the side of a road was a small gazebo of sorts with what looked to be a large drinking fountain situated underneath. The floor was paved stone with a circular stone platform which looked like a big bowl. Near the middle of the bowl was a slightly elevated pipe where water bubbled out two holes in the top. The inside the hollowed-out area was wet and rusty-brown from the minerals in the water. There was also a spigot on the side of the stone platform where people would bring in old milk jugs to fill up.
As a kid it was a special treat to stop at Flowing Well for a drink. I'm sure that many times my parents would have rather driven by without stopping, but most of the time we would take an extra five minutes to take a drink of spring water. It always seemed to taste better than "normal" water, although for the life of me I can't figure out why. Maybe it was just that the trip was special. Or perhaps it was because there was something mysterious about Flowing Well. It never closed. We stopped early in the morning and late at night, but no matter when it was the water was still running. It didn't stop. That was fascinating.
I drove by Flowing Well about a week ago. It's still there. And do you know what? The water is still running. It hasn't stopped. The little gazebo roof over the stone platform has been rebuilt after a car missed a curve and knocked it down. The owners of the spring now bottle the water. In fact, I can buy it while I'm out traveling in the summertime (and pay $1.25 for it!) It still tastes like water -- nothing spectacular, just refreshing. But at Flowing Well the spring is still bubbling up from the ground.
My memory goes back a good forty years and I remember that water flowing for at least that long. I honestly don't know when that spring first started shooting water from the depths, and I don't know how long it will continue. But it reminds me of the whole concept of eternality. God has always been and will always be. That's really more than my mind can take in. But it's easier for my brain to wrap itself around the idea of a well that hasn't stopped flowing for well over forty years.
God used springs to convey the idea of eternality in the Bible as well. In the Genesis Flood account, the author mentions at the outset of the rain that the springs of the great deep burst forth as well as the floodgates of the heavens which were opened. The idea is of an amount of water that doesn't stop flowing suddenly bursting from the ground. Imagine standing on dry ground in one instant and being swept away by a great wave of water the next. That's the visual picture -- water without end.
In His discussion with the woman at the well, Jesus compares the water of Jacob's Well to the Living Water which He gives. Jesus' water is not something which needs to be continually drunk for thirst to be quenched. He said it "will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Water without end. Eternal life.
So much of God's nature is foreign to us -- immutability, omnipresence, perfection. But in the picture of a roadside spring, I see a slight hint of God's eternal nature. The One who was and is and is to come.