If you’re like me, you’ve heard the term “scuttlebutt” used as a synonym for “gossip,” but I never knew the derivation until we visited Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua. Before people knew how to purify water, sailors would store fresh water gathered from local streams for their voyage in caskets. A “butt” was a casket used for storing water, and a “scuttled butt” was a casket that had been scuttled (by cutting a hole in it so people could get the water out). During the voyage, the “scuttlebutt” was the current casket, usually sitting on the main deck, where the sailors could come to drink, and—like employees around a water cooler today—people would often catch up on news and swap stories while drinking the water.
There are so many things I’ve never really reasoned through, but at this fascinating museum of naval history, they made a point out of the fact that water from local streams would not be very clean, and after being stored for weeks on end, it became foul. However, that was all they had, so drink it they did. Better than dying of thirst, although there were times when drinking it resulted in their dying of bacterial infections or other disease-related illnesses.
Do you believe in heaven? There were many people in previous centuries who did not believe in a “new world” across an apparently endless sea. However, there were also a few brave sailors who believed—at least enough to attempt crossing the ocean. For those who believed and were willing to travel, and survived the trip, they really did find a new world. On their journey, the sailors had to drink water to keep them going, but if the water was putrid, it may have killed them at any rate.
This is true for us in the spiritual realm as well. Some people don’t even believe in a “new world” called heaven and have no interest in searching for it, but for those of us who do, we’re off on an adventure in a “fellow ship” with other believers. On the way, we need to drink water to survive the trip. The only pure water that remains clean and healthful throughout life is the water of the Word of God. Every other type of spiritual water is just from the “scuttlebutt;” it’s gossip and rumors gathered from local sources that are never pure and always leave a stench in the end . . . perhaps even causing death to those who drink.
In John 4:14, Jesus taught: “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” In Revelation 21:6, Jesus tells John in a vision: “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
When we are spiritually thirsty, let’s forget the scuttlebutt and go straight to Jesus and the Bible for our refreshment!
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).