Have you experienced desperate thirst?
Your mouth is a barren desert, your tonsils like jagged rocks and your tongue a sleeve of sandpaper. You feel every puckered taste bud as they stretch for the faintest drop of saliva to quench them. Your cheeks cling to your teeth like grilled cheese on toast, and the area between your gums and lips resembles a moat that has long since evaporated.
A cup of water sounds pretty tempting right now, doesn’t it?
Now imagine your thirst is so great, and you find yourself in an oasis.
You thought I was going to say a desert, didn’t you? Well to be honest, that’s the image I had at first, but the analogy didn’t quite align when I thought about it. You see, our world (society) is full of things which promise refreshment, relief and especially pleasure and satisfaction.
Dew drops of vocational success promise to steadily sustain you, despite the stress and strained relationships. Streams of financial security claim peace and contentment for all your days, neglecting inflation and the tumultuous world market. Romantic relationships rain down upon you and leave you physically satisfied, even if only for a moment. Our world is full of dew, puddles, rivers, rain and floods. It is so abundant, in fact, we can easily grab a cup of cold water without having to search long or hard for it. It’s simply given to us as if from a never-ending conveyor belt of comfort.
If one cup does not suit you, pick the next one. Tired of the flavor? Choose another. This constant stream of options gives the false impression that the supply is endless and the choices countless. From our careers to social justice causes to sexual desires to physical appearances, there’s a cup for everyone, a river for every thirst that needs satisfied. But what if something lethal lies within each cup, something that leaves you thirsty for more and ultimately fatally dehydrated?
Sure, those dew drops, streams and rain look safe and promising. And the conveyor belt of choices? How could one not be satisfied by an endless supply of quick fix options? After all, is not variety the spice of life and temporal the primer of a YOLO mentality?
Yes, variety is good and a firm grip on the brevity of life a good reminder, but what if the satisfaction these cups promise leave you more thirsty than before? Think about it, just because you see a water source does not mean you should chug from it. We all know how easily and inconspicuously water sources can be contaminated.
A water fountain can give your sandpaper mouth the relief it needs in the middle of a pick up game at the local gym; it can also leave you bed-ridden for days with the latest flu virus, if not worse. Your faucet at home can supply you with a crucial ingredient to make your prized cup of morning coffee; it can also seize your organs and nervous system as lead weaves its way through you, sometimes not making its presence known until years later when irrevocable damage has been done. The bottle you buy at the local grocery can be an essential for a spur-of-the-moment road trip with friends; it can also be one of the millions connected to the latest mold or e.coli outbreak. All plausible scenarios, none of which are readily obvious until it’s too late.
Your thirst continues and even intensifies, but no matter how much of this "water" you drink, it's never enough.
The same goes for the “water” this world offers. A constant stream of romantic relationships may satisfy you sexually and perhaps even emotionally for a stint, but what of the effects? Besides those regarding your physical health (sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, to name a couple), the emotional damage is catastrophic. The pain inevitably comes, no matter how hard you try to shove it away. Pain of regret, confusion, emptiness and longing. Each “relationship” drags a new piece of your heart through the mud, yet you continue to go back for more, sometimes even from the same person. You just can’t seem to stay away from a person or the act itself. What once used to satisfy you doesn’t even phase you now, so to get your fix, you try different—often more dangerous—things just to be fulfilled. Your thirst continues and even intensifies, but no matter how much of this “water” you drink, it’s never enough.
Now, maybe you have a steady romantic relationship and it’s your career that has you on a hamster wheel. You have your eyes set on a specific title or salary, and you are willing to do anything to get it. You put in long hours and convince yourself things will calm down after this busy season, only to face plant into the next busy season two seconds after the previous one ended. Eventually your body is neglected, your mind exhausted, your patience fried, your passion obliterated and your relationships strained. Even if, despite all of this, you still reach your goal, then what? Another rung in the corporate ladder? More office politics and time at your computer or at the beck and call of your boss and/or clients? You grab one trophy, thrilled by your success, only to see a bigger, shinier one up the mountain. Always longing, never satisfied.
Perhaps your relationships are solid and you’re content with your job. What about your body? Those areas you just can’t seem to flatten, your lackluster complexion, the bags under your eyes and the lines around them, your puny biceps, the jiggle that ripples throughout your body as you walk. You hit the gym like a rat on amphetamine. You count every single calorie that even comes across your gaze. You price shop a tummy tuck, face lift or personal trainer. You rip open a fresh bag of chips or pop open a case of beer, telling yourself it’s been a long day and you deserve this. Rather than talk through your emotions, you eat them or beat them away at the gym. Whether it’s spurred by your external appearance or your internal feelings, you often wonder, “What’s one more?”
What’s one more drink from the world’s conveyor belt of pure, satisfying water? What’s one more dip in the lead-infested stream of happiness and pleasure? What’s one more sip of a diseased sexual fantasy? Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this one will be better. Maybe this one will be the last one.
Every option this world offers seems promising at first, but none of them will truly satisfy the thirst you are trying to quench. Instead, they will only suck every bit of moisture out of your body until you are entirely devoid of water. The physical life literally drains out of you, but the most concerning part is so does your spirit. Tired of the pain and quest to suppress it, you either give in to the very people and/or actions that are killing you or you give up on it all. The happiness is gone and the hope is gone, so what’s the point? You’ve gone this far, might as well keep doing what you’re doing; you don’t know any different.
But what if there was another option? One the world will never imitate, let alone match. Its effects permeate every aspect of your life—vocational, relational, mental and physical. It does not guarantee a life free from stress, worry or pain, but it does offer a lifetime of absolute freedom. It puts everything in perspective and provides you with the strength, hope and assurance you need to face anything that comes your way. All you must do is accept it and the One who provides it.
What is it, you ask? It’s the free gift of eternal life bought for us by Jesus Christ. In His talk with the Samaritan woman at a well, Jesus Himself described it as living water:
“Jesus answered her (the Samaritan woman), ‘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’…Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water (that from the physical well) will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (John 4:10, 13-14).
This living water will completely satisfy a person at the deepest level.
The void you, your friends, your neighbors and even I try to fill with relationships, careers, food, etc., can only be filled by Jesus, the Living Water. Only a relationship with Him can fulfill you. Only knowing Him and being known by Him will bring you imperishable joy. Only when we fill ourselves with Jesus will we be satisfied forever.
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again."
It’s why nothing else has worked, for you and for everyone else who has ever lived. We all think we have the answer, and we all prove our ignorance in believing such a thing. No one has and no one will ever provide another way because Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). He literally died for you to make it so (John 3:16).
Jesus Christ, though He never sinned and as Creator of the world has never needed nor will ever need anything, He took on our sins so that we can be right with God and live forever with Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I know it’s difficult to fathom, let alone understand, but our ability to comprehend it does not nullify its truth. Unlike so many things in our world, we do not have to fully understand this gift from God to accept and embrace it. What God asks of us is to accept it as much as we are able, and He will do the rest. When we give that to God, He will use the rest of our lives to help us better understand His love, as well as mold us into His original design for us. Jesus said as much when the Samaritan woman asked Him how she could get the living water He was talking about (see John 4:16-26).
After sharing intimate details about her life to prove to her that He was the long-awaited Savior, Jesus told the woman that all she needed to do was believe in Him and pursue Him with all her heart, mind, body and soul. Gone are the days of obligatory trips to a religious building and welcome to a time of worshiping the One and only God in spirit. We no longer need a human to intercede between us and God the Father, for Jesus is our eternal intercessor; and as God Himself, Jesus will provide and care for us in ways unimaginable. In telling the woman about the living water, Jesus revealed Himself as the Savior of the world, the One who came to heal our wounds, forgive our sins and satisfy our deepest longings.
As He says to the Samaritan woman, “‘I who speak to you am He’” (John 4:26).
Jesus can and will satisfy you (Matthew 6:33). He will bring you inexplicable joy. He will provide you with insurmountable strength (Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13). He will lead you in the darkness and carry you through trials (Isaiah 58:11, James 1:5). He will never leave you nor forsake you, and He will work all things together for your good—not because of any “good” you have done, but because of His love for you (Deuteronomy 31:6, John 15:11, Romans 8:28).
All He asks of you is to accept the cup of water.
Please put down the cups this world offers and run to the only One who truly loves you and can satisfy you. When you do, you will find yourself refreshed beyond imagination and your life will take on an entirely new meaning. Trials will still come and you won’t always know what to do, nor will you always like what happens, but unlike the troubles of the world, it will all be temporary and will ultimately lead to good (Romans 8:18). Everything you face will serve a purpose and it will never be too much for you to handle (Romans 5:3-4). Not because you suddenly have superhuman strength and wisdom, but because you have the ultimate source of strength and wisdom living within you and fighting for you. His name is Jesus, our Living Water.
It sounds like it would be more of a complicated process—and plenty of self-proclaimed Christians have tried to make it so throughout the years—but it really is simple. Accept Jesus, follow Him with all you have and live for Him, and you will never be thirsty again. Know Jesus personally and “out of (your) heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).
English Standard Version Bible. (2001). Crossway Bibles.