It all started in fourth grade. My buddy, Tommy, and I decided to enter the fourth grade talent show. It was 1977, the year that Elvis (allegedly) died, so we wanted to pay him tribute. I sang “Hound Dog” while he ran around me on all fours barking like a dog! Now, that’s talent!
In fifth grade I moved to a new school and decided to enter the all-school talent show. This time it was serious. My mom slaved for hours over a sewing machine to tailor a white jumpsuit complete with rhinestones, high collar, and giant belt buckle. My dad squeezed half a tube of Brylcreem in my hair and combed it Elvis-style, ducktail and all. I took the stage and stole the hearts of fifth grade girls and their moms as I tossed them sweat-stained scarves from around my neck.
Seventh grade came along and I went to yet another new school. My older brother, Jeff, was already established in the small Christian school, so I became known as “Jeff’s little brother.” That wouldn’t do. Soon I made my Elvis debut at a Homecoming Banquet and basked in the applause as the homecoming queen planted a kiss on my cheek! I had made it! From then on I was known as “Little Elvis.”
I thought I had satisfied the two thirsts that every one of us has…the thirst to be someone special and to do something special. All of us were made with empty hearts that long to be loved (to be someone special to another person or people) and to make an impact on our world (to do something special that makes a difference). God gave Adam and Eve these thirsts, too, so that they would come to Him to satisfy their souls (see Genesis 1:27-28). But they satisfied themselves elsewhere…remember the tree? Since then, we too have forsaken the only Source of Satisfaction in order to dig our own broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13).
Jesus came and offered us complete satisfaction in His Spirit. “’If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit…” (John 7:38-39a). It is the Spirit of adoption who whispers deep into my heart that I am someone special to my Father (Romans 8:16), and that I am part of a family of thirsty people (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is the Spirit who gives me the power and the courage to do something special with the gifts He’s given me (1 Corinthians 12:4-11; 2 Timothy 1:7), and to use those gifts to make an impact in my world by giving others a taste of His love (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22).
I’m still tempted to dig broken cisterns today. Elvis doesn’t work for me anymore. These days I’m tempted to drink from my reputation as a pastor, my performance as a father, my own quest for comfort and pleasure, and other leaky places. Have you been dipping your heart in the wrong wells lately? Run back to the Spring of Living Waters! “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8a).