Before you read on, answer this question: what’s your favorite drink?
As you know I’ve been writing a lot about God’s abundance. Lately I’ve been thinking about how important water is for our survival. We can go much longer without food than without water. I live in a desert climate and we are repeatedly warned to be very cautious about going out into the desert without adequate water.
But what about spiritual water. Is that also essential to our spiritual welfare? Are we shriveling up inwardly with the lack of this vital resource? Are we dying spiritually when what I need is available in abundance? When Jesus met the woman at the well, recorded in John 4, his whole discussion with the woman was the promise that he could give her water that would cleanse and refresh her innermost being. We’re much like her still thinking in physical terms when Jesus is pointing us to something much more essential, much more fulfilling. Listen to his promise. Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (4:13, 14). Notice how abundant this spiritual refreshment is — a spring welling up.
Jesus spoke again of the living water in John 7. He shouted to his listening crowd, “If you are thirsty, come to me! If you believe in me, come and drink! For the Scriptures declare that rivers of living water will flow out from within.” Does Jesus mean what he says? Is he really offering this amazing gift to all who ask? Do I hear him calling me? Do I believe and drink?
But let’s return in our thinking to the water that most of us drink daily. It seems to me that few of us drink pure water any more. Rather most of us prefer coffee, tea, sodas, alcohol, etc. Water seems too tame, too tasteless. I have a habit of squirting some flavoring into my water bottle for added taste. We yearn for something with more flavor, more fizz, more kick. Though doctors stress the importance of drinking plenty of pure water daily, we turn to other ways to satisfy our thirst. Or, we don’t drink enough water and our body suffers.
I recently read Stephen Ambrose’s account of the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisana Purchase. Over twenty seasoned men traveling in uncharted territory from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. In preparation they had to decide on the most essential things to take with them. You won’t likely think of one item. Whiskey! Large quantities! Barrels of it! Though they had the best water available, and plenty of it, they felt that they couldn’t survive the trip without whiskey. After two years of exploring the whiskey ran out. So, they had to survive on pure, abundant water. But as soon as they returned to the outskirts of society the first thing that they sought out was whiskey! They were addicted to something that harmed their body, but still quickly returned to it when it was available.
It seems to me that we face the same problem spiritually. Our Great Shepherd endeavors to lead us to the still, refreshing water, but we turn away for something “better.” Ironically, nothing could be better than what He offers. I think that if we are honest our spiritual refreshment has been diluted with things similar to our coffee, tea, sodas, alcohol, etc. If we are honest we must admit that we have gained a thirst for what the world offers us and spiritual refreshment is not that appealing.
This is not an idle thought. I’ve made changes in how I spend my time because I want to spend more time at the fountainhead to get the pure water that Jesus offers. I’ve made choices to withdraw from some activities, not because they are sinful, but because they hinder me from seeking something much better. No one has coerced me. I’ve not felt that I was sinning. It’s merely that I want to experience the best — not second best.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Mt. 5:6). If someone were observing me for a week, would they conclude that I am thirsting for righteousness? What would they look for to indicate that I was drinking of something that refreshed me spiritually?
How about you? Are you thirsty? Are you getting refreshed from the ever-flowing Fountain?