About | What's in a Name?
In biblical cultures, names were important. Places and people were often named after God's attributes or events in His plan. Jesus is of course the most obvious example of this: "...you shall call his name Jesus [literally God saves], for he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Today, we may not give as much significance and meaning to naming our children as they did in biblical times, but choosing a church name is still usually considered with some serious significance and meaning. Names of churches and denominations are purposefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully chosen to show a specific point of emphasis. So, why is Desert Springs Church called Desert Springs Church?
Desert Springs Church is so called not because it sounds neat for a church in an arid New Mexican climate, though certainly that connection was intended by those who came up with it. More importantly, the idea of water in the desert (or a desert spring) is a frequent and glorious theme in the Bible. It is a long-promised and beautiful picture of God's fullness coming, and our thirst ultimately being quenched in Jesus Christ. It is worth reminding ourselves (and staying reminded) why we call this group of Christians in Albuquerque, Desert Springs Church. First, some historical background:
Isaiah was a prophet sent to preach to an obstinate and rebellious people. A prophet who was promised to have little in way of a positive response to his message; yet amidst the rejection and rebellion, he foresaw the day when all wrong would be fixed, when all dry ground would be quenched. The theme of waters in the desert pops up in three major parts of his prophecy:
...then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water...
...And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness...
...the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
– Isaiah 35:6-10
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert...
...to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
– Isaiah 43:19-21
For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
This one will say, "I am the LORD's,"
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, "The LORD's,"
and name himself by the name of Israel.
– Isaiah 44:3-5
Consider the following observations about water from these passages:
Water is anticipated precisely because the ground is dry, and the land is barren. This had historical implications for the nation of Israel who was spiritually dry, barren, and dead (see Ezekiel 37:1-13). Isaiah prophesies to his people to say that God will do a new thing (a new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34), and they will not be dry and barren forever. One day the fix for their spiritual brokenness will come, and we know the reality of a spiritual desert from the experience of our own lives as well. It is not just historical and national for the Israelites, it is experiential and personal for those of us who remember our own spiritual dryness before Christ. Like David in Psalm 63, we as Christians came to a point where we recognized that we live, "...in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Which leads us to an application:
Here we live in dry and dusty Albuquerque. We may complain and groan for moisture for our lawns and plants, but God created deserts in this world for a purpose. God purposefully and intentionally created dry and dusty lands called deserts in order to give us a vivid picture of our spiritual state of deadness and mere dust. The idea of the analogy comes first in the mind of God: the creation is there to serve the need for an analogy, not vice-versa. Our perfectly wise God plans all things with purpose, intention, and great forethought; and if that is true, that means that we live in Albuquerque, where the natural landscape carries the purposeful and planned theological reminder of a spiritually dry and dusty people who are desperately in need of water.
He is our water, our satisfaction, our quench; and He is all these things for us because He became our highway of holiness. This highway of holiness is not a road that merely enables us to live holy lives; rather, we walk on the path of someone else's holiness—the perfect holiness of God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus makes the connection between Himself and the promised satisfaction of a spring of water. God Himself is this anticipated water. He said in John 7:37-39,
...If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive...
Now we come to the real conclusion of the promises from Isaiah. They are through Jesus, and specifically fulfilled in the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus makes clear that the fulfillment of the water promises come to their head in the Holy Spirit who indwells His believing, new covenant, satisfied, joyful people.
That is why we are called Desert Springs Church. We are desperately thirsty people by nature, and because of sin's sickness and distortion, we were for so long trying to quench our thirst with more sand; but in God's good grace, we have seen that Christ is living water, and only He can satisfy. Consequently we are passionately thirsty for more of Him through the Holy Spirit.