I had barely walked into my future mother-in-law’s home for the first time when they offered me a glass of water.
So thoughtful, I thought to myself back in 1988. I could really grow to love this family living in Magna, Utah, at the time.
Not long after the first sip, I knew I was the victim of a good-natured prank, courtesy of Barbara, her mom and younger sisters. They lived in Magna, in the shadow of the Kennecott Utah Copper mine and delighted in introducing newcomers to “Magna water” for the first time.
For all I know, “Magna water” tastes much better now. After what I tasted in 1988, I wouldn’t even use it to water house plants.
It looked like a byproduct of Three Mile Island. The smell was worse than dogs rolling around in curdled milk. A dying man in the Sahara would say, “no thanks, I’ll take my chances.”
Much like the people in Magna in 1988, I didn’t have a choice about the source of my drinking water while growing up in Forks, Wash., during the late 70s. It ran from a nearby stream downhill through a plastic pipe and into a large, rusted holding tank. From the tank, it flowed further downhill to where it serviced our small neighborhood. No purifiers were added, no inspections were made by any regulatory agencies and we tried not to think what deposits were left by wildlife left in our water source.
The salamanders sure liked our water. At least two to four times a month, we would experience water outages often accompanied by a horrific smell. It took only a few times before we saw the same pattern. Armed with a flashlight, I would crawl under the house and open different water connections until I found the dead salamander stuck in our small black pipe — effectively blocking our water until I could remove it by hand.
It’s as gross as sounds, but until we could an afford an upgrade to our primitive water system, we had few other options. Brita filters had yet to be introduced in the U.S. We weren’t rich enough to truck in Perrier water.
In both cases, quenching our physical thirst depended on our means and our surroundings. Thankfully our Savior has clearly defined the way to quench our spiritual thirst.
Using his encounter with the woman by the well in Samaria, the Savior taught that about the Well of Living Water — that drinking daily from the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ would bring us true happiness and everlasting life. You can read about it here.
Elder Robert L. Simpson put it this way.
It is only this ‘living water,’ the gospel of Jesus Christ, that can and will bring a happy, a successful, and an everlasting life to the children of men.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, p. 96)
In the Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught that the Living Water lesson in the New Testament is the “the words of eternal life, the message of salvation, the truths about God and his kingdom; it is the doctrines of the gospel.”
He further said, “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.”
It’s important to note that McConkie isn’t telling us to blindly follow prophets. One of the main purposes of the Holy Ghost is to teach us and confirm truth — which could also include counsel from priesthood leaders, promises made in priesthood blessings, sacrament talks or messages from inspired lyrics.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
In his October 1983 General Conference address, McConkie refers to people who know about the Book of Mormon and still refuse to read it.
Instead of drinking from that fountain from whence clear streams of living water flow, they prefer to go downstream and drink from the roily, muddy, poison-filled streams of the world.
For you young people who think water comes from 7-Eleven or Circle K, just remember these three most important principles about (spiritual) wells.
1. Water from a well doesn’t just show up at your house. It’s not like Bountiful Baskets or a delivery from Amazon. You have to show up and draw from directly from the source.
2. Using a straw or Dixie cup to draw from the Well of Living Water is highly ineffective. Think about that when you’re checking Facebook during sacrament meeting, stake or General Conference. As somebody once said, bring a jug with you every week to sacrament meeting.
3. Unless you’re a camel, one trip to the well a week won’t work to quench your spiritual or physical thirst.
Attempting to drink from sources other than the Savior’s teachings or his divinely called prophets is much like passing up the Well of Living Water for a Big Gulp of Magna water. Seeking truth from sources other than the way outlined by the Savior might result in a few drops of water at first.
In the end, it will leave you feeling parched.