O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you. —Psalm 63:1
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me.” —John 7:37
In grade school, when my class would come in from recess on a hot day, we’d stop at the water fountain before heading back to the classroom. After putting all we had into climbing on monkey bars, playing freeze tag, and racing each other on the black top, we’d pour back into the school building and discover we were all desperately thirsty. I remember reaching the front of the line at the water fountain and feeling like I could drink forever and never get enough. And because we all felt that way, each kid had a five-second limit, or else we’d be there till the afternoon bell rang. As the kid behind me would count 1…2…3…4…5, I’d gulp down as much water as I could, each second precious and wonderful. Somehow this post-recess water was always cooler, sweeter, and more satisfying than anything else, and we couldn’t get enough of it.
I love when the Bible taps into our physical sensations to help us understand God. Today’s passages invite us to access our experience of thirst. Take a moment to recall what it feels like to be very thirsty. Now take a moment to recall how deeply satisfying it is to quench that kind of thirst with a generous sip of fresh water. This is the kind of interaction that occurs between our spirit and God. When Jesus invites all who are thirsty to come to him, we are reminded that he is essential for our survival. We are reminded that drawing closer to him is sweeter and more satisfying that anything else.
Consider your current state of spiritual thirst. Perhaps, you’re staying hydrated: turning to God with regularity, steadily bringing God your needs and concerns, relying on Scripture routinely to sustain you, getting your spiritual 6-8 glasses a day. Perhaps, you’re like a child on the playground, running around getting thirstier by the minute without even knowing it, and only understanding just how parched you are when you stop and take stock. Maybe your thirst has grown gradually; you’re not especially uncomfortable yet, but you know that soon you will be, if you don’t stop and hydrate. Or perhaps you’ve recently taken a sip, and that cool rush you feel when it hits your belly lets you know just how badly you needed it. Or maybe you know perfectly well that you’re thirsty, but you keep drinking coffee and eating salty food, all the time aware that it’s time to pour yourself a tall glass of what your spirit really needs. How would you describe your current awareness of your own spiritual thirst, and how are you responding to it? How would you like to respond to it?
The fact is, sometimes we’re like the psalmist and we recognize our thirst. At other times, we ignore it or forget about it or try to satisfy it with things that only make us thirstier. But Jesus’ ability to quench our thirst always stands. Whether you can feel your soul’s thirst or not, these passages remind us that we need Jesus on a regular and ongoing basis in order to keep our souls healthy and hydrated. Only Jesus can provide that kind of life-giving, life-sustaining refreshment. And this goodness is to be enjoyed and shared generously for the well being of us all.
As you go through this day, consider turning your own encounters with thirst and water into acts of prayer. Each time your body feels thirsty, meditate on your soul’s need for God. And each time you quench that thirst with a sip of water, meditate on how God is the one who satisfies and sustains you.