Every human being knows what it’s like to be thirsty. Thirst in it’s simplest form is the simple feeling of a need to drink something. Our bodies sense thirst several times a day, during meal times, exercise, and even when we sleep. Physically, the sensory manifestation of thirst is simply meant to be an indication of our bodies vital need for hydration. Sometimes, we immediately obey our thirst by reaching for a drink, other times– we ignore it. Because our bodies need water, when thirst is ignored, the consequences can be severe and even deadly.
As humans we thirst in a way that is far more concerning then our physical needs. Our souls thirst too. Inside each of us, deep in our hearts, God instilled a thirst for something more. Money can’t satisfy it. Relationships can’t quench it. Accomplishments can’t fulfill it. This natural thirst is meant to propel us to Jesus, the source of living water. The thirst inside you and I is not a suggestion, but rather, an alarming warning that the consequences for a dehydrated soul are serious, and potentially fatal.
Growing up in a Christian home I had been exposed to the gospel as early as I can remember. I understood God’s generous offer to me, salvation, peace, purpose, but– I was still dangerously dehydrated. You see, I had made a habit of standing in the water, but never actually drinking it.
Think about this: In churches all over America, millions of people are knee deep in water, yet still dying of thirst. They are literally surrounded by the Living Water; sitting in pews, attentively listening to sermons, maybe even serving in their congregations. Our souls cannot be hydrated by being in close proximity to other Christians. An inspirational book or convicting sermon is no more effective. Jesus offers us Living Water, but we must decisively drink it. He alone can satisfy the thirst within. The problem is, we are often more apt to reach for temporary instant gratification versus soul hydration.
About three years ago I learned this lesson the hard way while running a half marathon (13.2 miles). Mile after mile I pressed forward determined to keep going even without adequate water. Throughout the course I passed several water stations but was too focused on maintaining pace to slow for a drink. I began to feel dizzy. A dull headache began shortly thereafter. My lips were cracked, mouth dry, and body physically exhausted. At mile 12 I passed the last water station, glancing at the cups of Gatorade and water being offered– but continuing towards the finish without stopping. What happened two turns from the finish line was tragic, but could have been much much worse, potentially fatal. I blacked out. I literally fell mid run sideways unconscious onto the pavement.
I awoke surrounded by a medical team asking me questions of which I was too confused and discombobulated to answer. I had blacked out from severe dehydration, and literally could not even remember my name. It took several gulps of water, and packets of salt (to help me retain fluids) to bring me back to a point of vital stability.
I share this story, because I see similar occurrences happening everyday in our churches. Believers exhausting themselves with busy schedules, committing continuously to serve, give and do — even believers passionate about leading other thirsty sojourners to the Living Water. Far too often Christians are negligent about quenching their own thirst and the results of attempting life at such a pace is painful and disastrous.
Drinking of the Living Water requires us to stop and be still long enough to drink. On this course of life marked out for us there will be many times where regular maintenance sips will do. But then there are those other times, where we face a spiritual dryness, times in which we must be deliberately attentive to the longing in our souls. Get up fifteen minutes earlier to pray. Take in His word at scheduled intervals throughout the day. Memorize scriptures that speak to your individual circumstances.
The reality is you cannot lead others to water, nor ever hope to teach them how to drink, if you are not well hydrated yourself. You cannot encourage others to persevere in the Christian race or to turn to Jesus for their deepest needs, if you haven’t slowed down enough to let Him meet yours. You cannot give, what you do not possess. Drink up, Living Water for your soul is abundantly available and flows from the souls who obey the thirst.
This blog was originally written and posted at WHOLE magazine: http://www.wholemagazine.org/2014/05/when-youre-thirsty.html