I carry a water jug around with me, most of the time. I, normally, fill it at least once or twice a day. But, on Sundays, I get so thirsty from preaching and talking, I have to fill it three times.
When I work outside of the house, or in the garage – like I did yesterday – my wife frequently asks me if I’ve had enough to drink, because it gets so hot here, in South Florida.
Often, when I’m riding my motorcycle, for any length of time, especially in the sun and heat, I realize how quickly I feel dehydrated, and need a drink.
God designed our bodies to need water. About 60% of the human body is composed of water. We can’t survive more than a few days without water – less than that if we are in a hot or dry climate. Virtually every part and function of the human body, down to the molecular level, depends on water to function healthily. We need it to thrive. We need it to survive.
And, when we need more, the body’s natural, God-designed response is to feel thirst. When the body’s hydration equilibrium gets out of balance, and needs more water, the central nervous system alerts the brain, which sends us signals like dry mouth and the craving for fluid. When we feel thirsty, we know we need something to drink. We don’t need a doctor’s report to tell us. We just know.
But, we aren’t just physical, of course. We’re also spiritual beings. Just as the body needs water and food and oxygen to live and function, our souls need the Spirit. And, just as the physical body thirsts for water, the Bible says that we are designed to thirst for the Spirit.
Sometimes we don’t recognize spiritual thirst, as spiritual. Sometimes, we just feel an inner need or drive that demands attention. We need to feel valued, or loved, or accepted, or important… or to stop feeling loneliness or pain. If we don’t understand our thirst as spiritual, we might look for other ways to quench it. I wonder if, sometimes, our thirst for worldly things – like wealth, or possessions, or popularity, or approval, or status, or substances, or escape, or sex, or food, or fun, or any number of other things – might actually be a thirst for God, that we’re attempting to quench with cheap substitutes.
We likely only figure that out when we get what we thought we wanted, but it just doesn’t satisfy the thirst.
C.S. Lewis, wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
There is an old Ethiopian proverb that says, “In the abundance of water a fool is thirsty.”
St. Augustine once wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
Nothing can replace God. If the thirst is for God – and it is, because God made us that way – nothing this world offers can satisfy it. Until we realize that only God can quench the thirst, we will remain restless.
You may have noticed, the symbol for this series is a gold fish. You may have wondered, “Why goldfish?” Have you ever noticed, goldfish are never thirsty? A goldfish needs water, just like humans do, though they have a different anatomy to process it. Water passes through the goldfish’s mouth, and out their gills, and somehow water is absorbed into the fish’s body by osmosis somewhere in between. A goldfish never thinks, “I’m thirsty. I need a drink of water,” because a goldfish is literally swimming in it, and breathing it. I’m not sure if a goldfish even knows what water is, unless it jumps out of the fishbowl!
Imagine if we, like the goldfish, were actually fully immersed in living water! We are! Acts 17:28 says, “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Ponder that for a moment. God is everywhere. God is always with us. Like a goldfish in water, we are literally swimming in God’s presence.
If you live in a place like South Sudan, water is not always easily available, and quenching a thirst may require walking miles in search of a dirty water hole, or stream. For most of us, clean water is more easily available. It’s as close as a water fountain, or a water tap, or a bottle of water from the store.
What if our spiritual thirsts are even more easy to quench than our physical thirsts? What if there’s living water as available to us as water is to a goldfish, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Can you imagine being so deeply immersed in God, that we will never thirst again, that we could absorb God by osmosis, as he passes through us? Can you imagine?
One day, Jesus was walking with his disciples, and came to a well in a village called Sychar. It was in the middle of the day, and Jesus was thirsty, and he didn’t have a bucket and rope to draw water. So, Jesus asked a woman who had come to the well, to give him a drink.
In those days, it was unusual for a stranger to speak to woman, much less ask her for a favor – it wasn’t the custom. And, this woman was a Samaritan, and Jesus was a Jew, and Jews were supposed to hate Samaritans. The woman asked, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you knew me, you would be asking me for living water.”
Notice how Jesus switched the topic from literal water, to living water?
She said, “You don’t even have a rope. How are you getting water?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
The woman said, “Sir, give me that water. I want that water!”
The conversation began with a simple request for a drink of water. But, the conversation quickly turned spiritual. Jesus wasn’t talking about water, drawn from a well. He was offering himself. He was offering her the Spirit. Jesus was saying, the gift of the Spirit – in whom we live, and move and belong – is like a fresh spring of water that never ends, even for eternity, and it’s available to everyone.
And, that living water is available to us every moment of every day.
“Let the one who is thirsty come…”
The last chapter of the book of Revelation describes the end of times, when all will be well. It says there is a never-ending stream, flowing from the throne of God, and through the main streets of heaven. And, the Spirit invites everyone to come and drink, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
The Spirit is inviting us. Jesus is inviting us. There is a river of living water flowing all around us, that will quench our deepest thirsts and desires. All we have to do is drink.
One of the first scriptures I ever learned was, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10) The same passage appears in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. But, Luke adds, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
Even a terrible, dead-beat, sad-excuse-for-a father, will usually feed his hungry kids. If that’s true, then our heavenly Father will give us so much more. “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” You can ask him for the living water, and know for sure that he will give it to you!
You can lead a horse to water…
Friends, God does not play hide and seek with us. God isn’t stingy. God doesn’t want us to thirst for him unnecessarily. God doesn’t make us jump through hoops to catch him. The offer is made – “Come and drink.” The offer is made – “Ask me, and I will give you living water. Ask me, and I will give you my Spirit.”
There’s an old expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink.” I don’t mean to call y’all horses… but if horse shoe fits… If the thirst fits…
If you are spiritually thirsty… if you’ve realized that nothing in this world can quench your deepest thirst… come and drink the living water. It’s all around you. All you have to do is ask. All you have to do is drink.