The Colander Effect

What happens if you pour water into a colander? (That’s the big bowl with the holes in it that your momma uses to strain spaghetti!) The water pours right out. That’s what a colander is designed for. It’s for straining. A big ol’ pot full of noodles and hot water goes in . . . the water drains . . . the noodles remain.

Why am I blogging about colanders? Because too many of us don’t know how to get filled up. As a result, our hearts are constantly leaking, like water from a colander.

We seek to get filled up by the applause of people. We want to be liked (literally and digitally on Facebook). We want to be important. We want others to notice us. There’s nothing wrong with that, exactly, but it’s important that we learn that ultimately none of that can satisfy. We need to know where true satisfaction comes from.

Jesus is the only One capable of satisfying our deepest longings.

When people like us, when they notice us, when they pat us on the back and say “Atta girl!” we feel filled up . . . for a moment. But inevitably, the confidence that comes from compliments and accolades pours right back out, and we have to keep chasing the approval of others to keep our hearts feeling full.

This image was hit home for me several months ago as I was studying the story of the Samaritan woman found in John 4:1–42. The woman in the story was looking for love in all the wrong places. The Bible tells us that she had had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband when she encountered Jesus. She was trying to get filled up with romantic love. Ever been there or done that? (Yeah, me too!)

And here’s the thing—it worked for a little while.

A guy paid attention to her, and she felt special, cherished, valued, beautiful. But when that relationship ended or the butterflies quieted down in her stomach, she remembered her heart was achy. None of her five husbands or her current boyfriend could make her heart full.

In fact, trying to get filled up was like pouring water into a colander. It filled her for a moment and then poured right back out.

Just like:

  • Trying to be the very best athlete, student, or musician can only make your heart full until someone else is number one.
  • Being the most popular girl in school can only make you feel okay until someone else becomes more popular.
  • Facebook likes and Twitter followers can only stroke your ego for so long.
  • Busyness can only trick you into feeling important, until you crash out from exhaustion.

Then what?

Then we need living water.

Let’s peek in on Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman.

Suddenly, the Samaritan woman had the answer for the thirstiness she’d been trying to quench in other relationships. It was like solving a lifelong mystery.

Jesus: “Give me a drink.”

Samaritan woman: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

This conversation took place at a well. Jesus was using their surroundings to make a comparison. She could keep running to the same places over and over looking for fulfillment, but ultimately finding herself unsatisfied again. Or she could turn her life over to Him and find lasting satisfaction. The contrast is between looking to something that can only fill you temporarily and looking to Jesus, who is the only One capable of satisfying our deepest longings.

Check out these verses that confirm this beautiful truth:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).

Do you look to God to supply your every need?

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things (Ps. 107:9).

Do you believe that God can satisfy?

You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing (Ps. 145:16).

Do you see God as being “open-handed” (as opposed to closed-fisted) toward you?

Only God is able to satisfy your soul. The Samaritan woman discovered this truth the day she met Jesus at the well. Suddenly, she had the answer for the thirstiness she’d been trying to quench in other relationships. It was like solving a lifelong mystery.

Perhaps that mystery still needs to be solved in your life. Maybe you’ve been looking to something or someone other than Jesus to make you feel satisfied, and it’s been like pouring water into a colander. It makes you feel filled up for a moment, but soon enough that feeling of satisfaction is pouring right out of your heart again.

Just like the Samaritan woman couldn’t find lasting satisfaction at the well or in her love life, you can’t find the kind of happiness that lasts through your achievements or ability to please the crowd.

With that in mind, I’d love for you to make a list of your deepest desires. I’m not talking about material things, like a new car or closet full of fabulous clothes, but rather the deepest desires of your heart. Things like significance, purpose, hope, or love. Once you’ve completed your list, ask God to show you how He alone can satisfy these longings.

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

PS: This week marks my radio-hosting debut! You can hear me teaching about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman (as well as His encounters with seven other women) on Revive Our Hearts by clicking here.

About Author

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

HEY, GIRLS! We love hearing from you, but feel limited in the ways we can help. For one thing, we’re not trained counselors. If you’re seeking counsel, we encourage you to talk to your pastor or a godly woman in your life as they’ll know more details and can provide you with ongoing accountability and help. Also, the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts. We reserve the right to remove comments which might be unhelpful, unsuitable, or inappropriate. We may edit or remove your comment if it:

  • * Requests or gives personal information such as email address, address, or phone number.
  • * Attacks other readers.
  • * Uses vulgar or profane language.