What comes to your mind when you read the following words spoken in prayer to God by David in both Psalm 63 and 42?
1 You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water. (63:1)
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God? (42:1-2)
I have lived in some hot dry places at times in my life and experienced thirst and I noticed that it is a very strong feeling that is not quenched by positive thinking, distraction, denial or any other trick of the mind. It can only be satisfied with water or some other appropriate liquid. It seems the need for water is to keep up the incredible level in our bodies. Believe it or not 60% of our bodies are made up of this precious thing chemically known as H2O.
Another thing I have noticed, due to all of the above, is that generally we will go to any length to make up for this lack of fluid and the unquenchable thirst that results. In other words, we won’t just pass it off as some transient feeling that won’t last and is unimportant. In fact, it is a life and death issue!
So, back to David’s words, I wonder why we too often live with thirsty souls, trying to satisfy the spiritual thirst with anything less than the presence of God. We might fill our lives with religious activities such as going to church (even if not regularly due to more important matters), or reading our Bibles (maybe briefly on the bus to work) and even pray (when the time is available). Or, fill our lives with our families, friends, possessions, professions, ambitions, etc. None which really satisfy that deep longing, that sense of thirst in our souls that too often we seem to try and dumb down with these other things.
In early February 2020 I will celebrate following Jesus for 50 years. It was on the 8th February 1970 that I went to a church (only the second time in my adult life) and heard the good news that Jesus loved me, and that he died for my sins to reconcile me to my Heavenly Father. On that day I said Yes to Jesus as my Saviour and asked him to be the Lord of my life. The greatest decision I have ever made!
But, does that mean there haven’t been some dry times when I was conscious of a deep soul thirst that could not be satisfied by religious activities, even as a medical missionary sharing the Gospel with people in Pakistan? No, I’ve had my fair share of such times.
Even this week, as I contemplated the words of David, I talked to God about what I perceived as a certain lack of passionate desire to be in His presence and know Him and love Him deeper. Even after almost 50 years of following Jesus, it is still too easy to drift along, even to consider that I have done my fair share for God’s kingdom.
I sensed the need to again commit myself to God afresh. I asked him to satisfy my thirst for Him and help me to not to be satisfied with poor substitutes that the world around me has to offer.
Jesus knew all about this soul dryness in our lives and so he made us an incredible offer. John writes:
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:37-39)
Also, in his conversation with the Samaritan lady at the well Jesus says:
10 … “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
13 …Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:10-14)
Only Jesus, the Living Water of Life, can satisfy our thirst this day and every day.
Let me finish with a life or death warning from Jeremiah which has challenged me often:
Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:12-13)
God forbid that we should forsake You, God, the spring of living water, for that which leaks and will never satisfy. Amen