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Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekend Snippet: Thirst

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.--Isaiah 55: 1a NIV

On the long drives to and from the Colorado trip, I brought along a big liter bottle of water and developed a reputation as the person in the car who drank the least water. Part of this was intentional, but the rest was the fact that I just didn't feel thirsty.  Sometimes I craved salty foods, which I've heard sometimes is really thirst signals getting confused with hunger.  Any time I noticed this (and knew that I wasn't just genuinely hungry), I drank more water.

The Bible frequently relates God's gift of salvation and eternal life to a drink of water.  Just as water brings life and vigor to the weary, Christ's offering can repair the most run down of souls.  There's just one catch: We have to "thirst" so that we can "drink."  We must first become aware that we (individually and personally) are thirsty.  It doesn't work to expect to benefit from another person drinking the water, nor does it work to merely live near it all our lives.  Christ cannot bless us and help us until we face our own thirst, that is, come to terms with our own lack.

Sometimes people recognize this need right away, and turn to Christ early in their lives (these people are the luckiest ones).  The rest get mixed signals in their minds, and chase after things that they think will satisfy their thirst, but which aren't really water.  This is like eating crackers instead of taking a drink.  It only leaves them hopeless, because they are thirstier than ever.

Many keep saying, "How could God help me, now that I've [eaten all these crackers]?" and they persist in their sin without turning to the living water they suspect could help them.  Some get so mixed up that they keep "eating the crackers," insisting this is what they need, until it makes them ill, or worse, kills them.  If only they would see what will satisfy their thirst before the disaster comes!

Whether they are feeling only slightly thirsty, or so lacking that they have fallen ill or are nearing death, it is our challenge as Christians to offer them what we have found, "the richest of fare" (Isaiah 55: 2 NIV), which satisfies completely.  It's not boring stuff.  Even in its simplicity, it is essential to life and health.

This grave responsibility to our fellow human beings calls for true wisdom in the Christian community, not pop psychology, and this can only come to us through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We who try to reach out to the world have not helped anyone if we offer Christ's salvation to them, but don't explain to them how this fulfills their needs--that is, we don't explain thirst, or the fact that this alone quenches it.  Without a clear, straightforward, and truthful answer to this question, we have wasted our time and theirs, to their much greater loss.  Furthermore, if we offer them "crackers" of even the purest sort, but no "water," we have condemned them, and they just might choke to death on our blessing!  This should not be. 

Until next time, I challenge you to remember your own past thirst, and taking Christ's model for your own (John 4: 8-30),  pray for wisdom in reaching out to others when you go out of your door each day. They so desperately need this living water!  Who will share it with them?