Do you take water for granted? After all, you probably have bottled water in your refrigerator, a water cooler at work, even kitchen tap water ready and waiting. At the slightest twinge of thirst, it's not difficult to satisfy the craving.
When was the last time you were really thirsty? On a hot summer day hiking in the woods with a canteen near empty? Working outside in biting, dry air, shoveling a thick blanket of snow? On a beach sizzling under the sun, too relaxed to be bothered to grab a chilly, sweaty can of quencher? While watching a Super Bowl and eating a ton of salty snacks? Even in those times it probably didn't require much effort to slake your thirst.
Can you remember a time you were dying for a sip of water? Do you know what it means to thirst? Really?
Think about this: Nearly one billion people in the world do not have access to safe water. The crisis is only worsening. According to Mark Hertsgaard, author of the book Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, the number in people in "water-stressed countries" will rise from 800 million to 3 billion over the next 20 years.
While you ponder, pray about, and respond to the critical issue of physical thirst, though, take a moment also to consider your spiritual thirst.
Does your dry, dusty spirit yearn for refreshment from God? Are you thirsting for a fountain of living water bubbling within your soul? That thirst may be much deeper than your physical thirst has ever been.
Sometimes we get so involved in our activities that we don't even realize how thirsty we are. One weekend last summer I was watching my four-year-old granddaughter. We went for a walk, then cavorted on a playground for a good while as she entertained me with her nonstop, inquisitive, full-force investigations of every plant, leaf, and twig in the area, as well as with her opinions on just about anything that a four-year-old mind could contain.
After a while I thought to offer her a juice cup -- and she grabbed it and drank heartily nonstop for several minutes. She could barely catch her breath. If she had been aware of her mighty thirst, she never thought to ask for what she needed, but she gladly took it when I offered it.
Spiritually, we often do something similar. We become so involved in the minutia of daily living that we don't realize how parched our soul really is -- until the Spirit grabs hold of us in some surprising way and offers the cleansing, cooling, renewing draught of the holy water of God's presence. Nothing refreshes more.
So hear God's clear, cool invitation to you through the prophet Isaiah:
"Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water!" (Isaiah 55:1a, The Message)
If you are thirsty for spiritual reality, even the least bit, God invites you, welcomes you, yearns for you to come to the waters, to the flowing, bubbling, effervescent fountain of eternal life. To stop, take a moment in the midst of your busy day, and consciously drink in God's presence.
And that's just the start. When you come into God's presence through prayer and meditation, Isaiah tells us something amazing happens:
"Are you penniless? Come anyway -- buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money -- everything's free!" (Isaiah 55:1b, The Message)
Get that? Wine and milk will flow freely. It's the wine of the Spirit, the milk of God's mother-like love.
Best of all, God's spiritual refreshment costs nothing. "Everything's free!" It's up to each of us to come, receive, and be filled to overflowing with the invigorating nourishment only God can give us.
Renewal flows continually from God. "Come," God invites us. "Come thirsty and drink deeply."
[Originally appeared on The Huffington Post, 2/16/2011]
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