". . . but whoever drinks the water Igive them will never thirst. Indeed, thewater I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternallife." - John 4:14 (NIV)
It struck me that this applies to my spiritual thirst, too. I help my soul function at its best when I makeGod a regular part of my life, i.e., making a habit of reading the Bible and praying,rather than putting Him up on a shelf and waiting until the storm cloud isright over my head to pull Him back off the shelf. I'm so much better prepared to face life'schallenges and crises when my spiritual thirst isn't running wild and depletingme.
We all have an inner thirst ("He has also set eternityin the hearts of men", Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV) - a thirst for somethingmore, for some meaning to life, the universe and everything, some greaterpurpose. It nags away at us, sometimesup front and center, loud and clear, other times soft and quiet, buzzing away atthe back of our thoughts. Everyone hashis or her own way of filling that hole inside.
So many times we react as if it's a physical thirst that canbe fixed in a physical way - with food; maybe with any number of fun thingsmoney can buy; or possibly with something more dangerous like drugs or sex. I've fallen into these traps myself, wrestledwith an eating disorder, wild shopping sprees, inappropriate relationships;regrets, I have a few. Or we may goanother route and try to fill our lives with love (I'm ashamed sometimes tothink how often I've tried twisting myself into whatever shape will be mostpleasing to someone - what can I do to make you love me?) or power or otherintangibles. Like I said, I've dabbledhere and there, and I'm sure you have, too - who hasn't?? And let's be clear, not all of our pursuitsin life are BAD in and of themselves, it's just that when we rely on these thingsfor ultimate meaning, they can't truly satisfy our thirsts in any sort oflong-term capacity. They may mask thethirst symptoms for a little while, but "[e]veryone who drinks this water willbe thirsty again . . ." (John 4:13, NIV).
So if deep down we all have this incessant thirst, and allthis other stuff doesn't work, what DOES work? The Bible teaches us that only the water God provides can satisfyus. Jesus told the Samaritan woman atthe well, “. . . whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become inthem a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14, NIV).
Similar to how water is a crucial component of our body'sgood health, daily drinks of the Living Water can fortify a believer's spiritualhealth. Our souls need a personal relationshipwith God, and that is only possible through prayer, Scripture, worship. When we set aside a time each day to read theBible and learn from it, and pray and really seek God's will, we have an opportunityto draw near to God and know who He is and who we are in Him. This gives our spirit the fuel it needs tokeep going, day in and day out; it refreshes us, sustains us and keeps us from becomingspiritually parched. We gain examples ofother believers used by God despite their flaws; we are reminded of God'spromises; we find verses that provide encouragement, wisdom, discipline,guidance, and on and on.
Confession time, though - I'm not always diligent in my dailytimes with God. So just like I neglectmy need for water, I also neglect my need for Living Water. I've experienced extreme physical dehydrationat least once in my life, and I can tell you firsthand, it's ugly. On a broiling hot day, I had the brilliantidea of going for a jog. I never takewater with me, but I also didn't drink much or eat much before headingout. After about thirty minutes, I feltso weak and trembled so much that I could barely stand. I had to try to keep moving, though, to getback, but the smallest movement exhausted me. I had to stop and sit down every few feet because I simply could notforce my body to move any further without a rest. I had burned out my body's storehouse ofwater and it simply could no longer operate normally. The hour it took me to get back was probablyone of the longest of my life. Trust me,I'll never forget the lesson I learned *that* day.
I really wish I could tell you that I've never been sostupid spiritually, but that just isn't true. I've struggled with clinical depression and anxiety for many years. It's frustrating, and above all,exhausting. And when I get tired enough,it's all too easy to be lazy and not make any effort, not even to read theBible. The problem, though, is that whenthe next wave of depression crests over my head and comes crashing down, I'mtotally vulnerable and weakened. Withoutthat strong foundation to stand on, I'm just spiraling further and furtherdown. Reaching out to God gives meperspective - that I'm not alone, that this moment is so small in comparison toeternity, that I'm loved and valued. This isn't a "magic", cure-all answer, but it helps me hold onuntil I've got my equilibrium back. Godis faithful and he won't give up on me.
Bottom line? If I maintainan ongoing relationship with God, I'm more likely to be spiritually healthy. Without water, our bodies would surelydie. In the same way, without God, wewould surely die.