Updated: Aug 11, 2021
A survey of my garden this year reveals some significant differences; green leaves in a perpetual wilt, fruit looks small and meager, the soil crumbles beneath your flip flops. This summer’s combo of hot weather and no rain doesn’t bode well for plant life. You don’t need to go far around here to find a farmer struggling with the conditions.
We all know about the critical need for water to help plants grow and produce. Not only that, but water represents life, survival, and cleansing.
Challenges this last year have pushed our limits, made us question our values, and revealed tension we never thought could exist. We long for rest, to be away from it all. Almost unprepared to tango with another calamity.
Those sad, sagging plants don’t just reveal their own condition, but mirror that of our own hearts; the desperate need we have for our spiritual thirst to be quenched-not by a light mist, but a saturating downpour.
But sometimes we’re unaware of our need.
Her daily attendance at the well, drawing water for her family’s needs, evolved into an extraordinary encounter when a Jewish man asked her for some water. Perhaps a little snarky in her responses, but in Jesus’ patience he extends to this woman at the well, the gift of truth; unaware as she stood before him, of how much she truly needed it.
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).
Don’t we often look with our own eyes to see the problem tangibly, physically in front of us, then miss the deeper meaning and purpose in it?
We trip over the kids’ shoes in the mudroom and growl about them not cleaning up, when it’s a great opportunity to teach them, or to practice humble service and pick them up.
Or we attempt to solve our financial struggles with budgeting or a side hustle, without first taking the situation to prayer.
Or we think, if God would just provide rain all our problems would be over, when perhaps he’s calling you to a deeper trust, a bolder obedience, a consistent discipline.
While our problems can be legitimate needs, they are not ultimate needs. The most important, eternal, need we carry is for the grace of our Lord Jesus who gives us salvation, calls us to the best possible life, provides for us day in and day out.
May we become increasingly aware of our constant need to rely on the grace and mercy of our Lord.
The Signs of Thirst
In the middle of a workout or sports game, we instinctively know to chug back some water, replacing what we’ve lost through sweat. Often times we rely on our sense of thirst to gauge whether or not we need to drink. However, the way our bodies work, thirst is often a late sign of dehydration.
“As the deer pants for water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God” (Ps 42:1-2).
So, even assessing if a sick patient is dehydrated, I look at their physical signs and symptoms, not just what they feel. Like a studious observation of my garden leads to the conclusion of parched lands, so, a glance around our life yields insight into our spiritual health.
What’s our relationships and family life like these days? How’s our connectedness to the local church body? Am I growing spiritually?
We don’t always feel thirsty, but maybe we need water nonetheless-living water, in particular- and perhaps we need to be praying Psalm 42:1-2 for ourselves, to grow that longing in our hearts.
An Invitation to Living Water
By grace, through faith, our spiritual needs are met in Christ. He is the living water, and he invites us to come and drink.
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.’ And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev 22:17).
But, what keeps us from him?
The prophet Jeremiah writes “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13). In a spirit of rebellion, Israel turned their back on God, then sought to make their own way, with their own hands and to their own devices.
It’s no different than our own temptations.
Our lack of trust in God often begins with rejecting the truth of who he is, followed by attempts to build our life with our own strength to our own preferences.
Yet these attempts don’t hold water.
The hard, humbling work of confession and repentance becomes too difficult to swallow, offenses drive us from our local churches and relationships, or on the flip side, we do all the things, serving in a variety of ways, but we’re seeking to gain glory solely for ourselves.
We get mixed up sometimes, we follow the enticing ways of the world, but returning to our source of life, drawn from the truth of his word, we will find the satisfaction we’re looking for. No, it’s not easy. The driest moments in life propel our search for living water.
He invites us to come.
* (This post was first shared in my newsletter, The Watered Garden, August 2021. If you enjoyed it, subscribe below!)