I had a solo woodland retreat with God awhile back. When I woke up my first morning there I had the old song “As the deer panteth for the water” on my mind. I freely admit, I could not recall all the lyrics to the song, but the first line kept repeating in my head:
“As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after you.”
Panteth, huh? I think that is how the lyrics go, or perhaps at least used to go. I am guessing they have been updated from King James English to be “pants” instead of pant-eth, but regardless, that is what was on replay in my head. As I sat outside on the deck of my cabin, with that line replaying in my head, I thought to myself, I do pant for God. I long to know Him more fully. I long to grow into His fullness and I long to drink deep of His Love and Truth allowing it to saturate me completely.
I thirst for Jesus. This is not a dry and desert type of thirst, but a longing thirst for more of Him, His Words and His Wisdom and the inevitable Peace and Joy that flow from His Living Water. I long to know Him more fully and I know that as I grow in my relationship with Him, I can more clearly hear His Heart within me and recognize His power at work in the world. This isn’t a twice a year, twice a week or once a week kind of thirst. This is a Deep Daily Need and when I don’t actively take the time to just be with Him, I can, sometimes all too quickly, feel the difference in my heart, mind and spirit. To be clear, it is not a good difference. 😉
When I think about thirst and think about Jesus as Living Water I can’t help but sense there are undoubtedly LOTS of dehydrated Christians out in the world. Especially these days in a world where many churches were completely shut down for awhile and may still have reductions in services due to virus related mandates. However, I boldly suggest that we had a society full of dehydrated Christians long before the word Covid-19 ever came on the scene. Now, before you close this blog in utter offense, read on to hear my reasoning and decide for yourself if you might be living in a dehydrated state.
In John 4, Jesus asks a Samaritan Woman for a drink from the well. To be noted, Jews talking to Samaritans was “frowned upon” by Jews – including by Jesus’ disciples. Regardless, Jesus strikes up a conversation with this woman because He loves her and doesn’t give two shakes of a lamb’s tail what the “religious” folks had to say about it. He declares over Himself that He has Living Water and anyone drinking of His Water will never thirst again but instead will have a spring of water welling up from the inside. She is, as the story goes, both confused and intrigued by His comment, let alone the fact that He, a Jewish Rabbi, is actually speaking to her. Ending point of this story, for my purpose today, is that Jesus is Living Water.
Ok, let’s say we agree with the declaration of Jesus as Living Water and let’s walk that out, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be ON the water, just about the water, ha! How many days you can live without water? According to a quick interweb search, about 3-4 days. Jeepers, that is not very long, is it?
So, if we cannot live without physical water for that long, what makes us think we can live without the Living Water of Jesus for that long? I propose that many Christians are living dehydrated in their spirits. This world has attempted to put Jesus in a box. That box is that any talk of God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are regulated to Sunday, for perhaps about an hour or hour and a half. (Heaven forbid the Sermon runs long, especially on Game Day!) So, the typical Christian unknowingly agrees with this designated box for ‘religious’ activities and if they are a little feisty perhaps they expand their religious activity to a Mid-week Bible Study.
Now – please don’t hear what I am NOT saying! I am not saying church and Bible Studies are bad, not at all. On the contrary, we are commanded and encouraged in the Bible to not forsake meeting together. However, we can wrongfully limit ourselves to repeat the same routine, with church attendance being the only place we allow ourselves to get a “drink” once a week. Then, we wonder why life seems to stay the same and why we don’t feel close to God as well as wonder why we don’t walk in the power we read about. Well, might I propose it is because those were folks drinking deeply of God’s grace ALL the time?
There is no box that can hold God, so don’t box Him into a certain place in your life. Don’t regulate the Creator of all time and space to one time a week in one space. That is ridiculous to think that you could even do that, but so often we leave God on the shelf, saved for Sundays when we dust Him off and hang with Him for an hour. After our time is done, we return Him to the shelf, hoping we won’t “need” Him until the following Sunday. Hoping He will be a good god and stay put not “messing around” with any of our plans during the week.
Think about it this way, how well would you know your Spouse or Best Friend if you only spoke to them/met with them once a week for an hour? How much is your life intertwined with them because of how often you are in communication with them? How much MORE wonderful could it be to have your life intertwined with The King of Everything?
So I ask you, do you long for God? Do you label yourself a believer in Jesus but still feel like you are missing something? Are you parched and thirsty with a dry well inside? Are you attempting to fill that well of emptiness with religious duties, wrongly thinking that if you are “doing” for God, then you will surely feel His Approving Love and conversely when you are not “doing” for God, you surely feel His disapproving glare? If so, I have the best news EVER for you…God does not require DO-ing! All the DO-ing is done!
Kinda like “there is no crying in baseball” – “there is no DOing in Jesus”. Ever heard the well-known quote of Jesus on the cross: “It is finished”? What, pray tell, do you think that meant? Do you think Jesus meant that His part was now completed, so the rest is up to you? Nope. Do you think Jesus meant that if you are good enough someday and if you DO enough for God then you can have limited access to God correlating to your level of doing for Him? Nope again. Do you think Jesus was saying that after your endlessly hard & relentless struggle in this world you will be able to fully enjoy God’s love…someday when you die? Most Definitely Nope.
It Is Finished means exactly that, the work is done. When the curtain of the temple tore in two it symbolized that we now have full access to the Father. We don’t have to work to gain ANY part of our salvation. It is by Grace and Grace alone that we are saved, period. It’s not Grace + a few works needed on our part = saved. You cannot add anything to Grace because it is the fullness of your salvation on its own. If you try to add something to it, it nullifies the true nature of it.
Maybe you are not a “believer”, but you feel an emptiness inside that nothing in this world can fill. I can tell you how to fill it. I truly have the answer and the answer is love. I don’t mean the love of another human but the love of your Creator, God and Father who is in and around you at all times. If you are dying of thirst for unconditional love, that is the ONLY place you will find it, period. I am not being a “religious stickler” here, I am merely speaking the truth. You don’t have to Find God, He Found You, more than that He Founded You. He founded you and formed you to be in full communion with Him. He is running towards you and if you simply stop running and be, He will cover your heart and spirit with the deepest depth of love you could ever imagine. I encourage you to open the door to His gentle knock, He will move in and Rock Your World in a beautiful way!
Wherever you think you fall on the “spectrum of faith”, believer, non-believer or non-believing believer, the answer is ALWAYS Jesus. You don’t have to DO anything to enjoy His Fullness of Grace and Love. He will give you the Faith required to drink deep of His Presence. Warning: once you really get a taste of His Living Water, you’ll always be “thirsty” for it. However, there is no reason to fear that thirst as His Living water brings Joy, Peace, Love, Strength and so many other gifts to explore in depth and grow into that you will never be bored or thirsty again. Jump into the River of Living Water and let it sweep you up and away. Your perspective on everything will change. As you swim in the River of Life you will be refreshed and you will refresh others and don’t ya think this world could use a little refreshment?
May you be Refreshed in the True River of Life!
With Love and Hugs – Pamela