My goal for today’s free time was to get the rest of the semester’s lesson plans put in one place. School starts Monday (it’s Thursday) and my goals were attainable but I found myself skidding around trying to fill a lot of roles with my time. None of them are necessarily bad or unneeded but they may not be more important than my original purpose for today. Alas, with the busy-ness mode I put myself into after I woke up late (oops!), I have an hour before the quiet ends and the “mommy hat” gets put back on and my motion begins again.
It occurred to me as I sat down with my laptop ready to work on lesson plans that my day did not start in the Word as it normally does. I decided to start there before I got to work. I am so glad that I did. I may not get to lesson plans until this evening, and that’s OK. This Word for the day hit home pretty hard. I wanted to share it with you.
Looking at John 4 we see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. There are many aspects of this passage I could focus on because this entire scenario is packed FULL of the Gospel. However, I am going to focus on the water. Jesus asks for a drink because he was tired and weary from a long day’s walk (v. 6-7). Think for a moment of a time that you had expended a ton of energy and were thirsty, possibly even dehydrated. I think my least favorite memory of being dehydrated was after a visit to a Piccadilly Cafeteria* and a REALLY bad case of food poisoning. I became so dehydrated from sickness that I ended up fainting which landed me in a hospital with barely a blood pressure to speak of and an IV of fluids for several hours. I remember very little of that experience other than I was in bad shape – and it was all because I was dehydrated.
Here is a quick rundown of dehydration for you (thanks to MayoClinic.Org). Dehydration is what happens when you lose more fluid than you take in and your body can’t carry out its normal functions. The symptoms are dry mouth and skin, fatigue, thirst, irritability, decreased or no urine output.
So, back to Jesus – He sat down and asked this woman for some water because he was thirsty and weary. Sounds like He was moving toward dehydration to me based on Mayo’s definition and symptoms list. The woman at the well didn’t really get why Jesus was asking her for water because of some social reasons from back in the day. Jews and Samaritans avoided each other at all costs. But, alas, here comes Jesus breaking up those barriers and asking this woman for WATER (v 9). After she questioned Him, Jesus said (and I paraphrase v 10), “You have no idea who I am and what I have to offer you. If you knew, you would ask me for the living water I have to give.” Now if that doesn’t confuse a person, I don’t know what would. First Jesus asks the woman for water and then Jesus tells her that He has water that goes way beyond the well water she could give Him. You can read her response in verses 11 and 12.
Jesus basically told her (v 13), “Anyone could drink this water all day long and keep coming back for more because they will continue to be thirsty. But the water I have, you can drink it and never be thirsty again. As a matter of fact, by drinking the water I give, a person will become a self-replenishing source of this life-giving water.” You can bet that the woman was SOLD! She immediately asked for this water Jesus offered (v 15). The story progresses from there and Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah and the woman runs off to tell the entire village that she met Jesus and He gave her a gift that overflowed her soul. Let’s look at the parallel of the water from the well that replenishes a physical body and this life-giving water that only Jesus can give.
Staying properly hydrated can prevent physical dehydration. By drinking water our cells and bodies can carry out their normal functions. Staying spiritually hydrated can prevent spiritual dehydration. Let’s talk about what spiritual dehydration looks like. If physical dehydration creates physical discomforts like dry mouth and dry skin, fatigue, thirst, irritability, and/or lack of output what might that look like in our souls?
For each person these physical symptoms will probably translate differently in their spiritual life. However, generalization would most likely consider dry mouth and dry skin akin to spiritual fidgeting or a lack of spiritual focus. When your mouth is dry and you can’t get to water, you might look for hard candy or gum, or something that will increase your saliva production. When your skin is dry, you look for lotion or some kind of cream or oil to soothe it. It’s hard to think about anything else when you have these issues because they start to take over your thoughts. In our spiritual walks, we try to read books by Christian authors, watch preachers preach their motivational and spiritually provoking sermons, or go on mission trips to try and connect with God in another time and place.
Fatigue and thirst are pretty common for a lot of people in different situations, not just dehydration. Thus, you are likely familiar with what is required to reverse the effects. Fatigue requires rest, not just sleep. It requires resetting the body’s clock in a sense. Thirst requires you to drink something, but not just anything. Drinking coffee doesn’t rectify thirst. Maybe at first you feel like you have conquered the dry mouth but give it an hour – how are you feeling? Like you could drink a gallon of water? Just as physical fatigue requires a biological reset, spiritual fatigue requires us to spiritually reset. The Bible even tells us that God wants us to “be still”. Jesus says all we have to do to get this rest is come to Him. Giving up church, taking time away, worshipping God on vacation or on the golf course aren’t the answer. If you want to overcome spiritual fatigue, you have to “be still” and RUN to Jesus. Now that I have written that it sounds contradictory but since getting to Jesus does not require us to physically run (thank you, Jesus!) we can make haste in our stillness to connect with Jesus through the Word and through prayer. This stillness with Jesus is as good as soaking your body inside and out with the water hose on a hot day. It is as energizing as a brisk fall morning on the couch with coffee in front of the fireplace with complete and total silence and no obligations to be found on the calendar for the entire day.
The last symptoms we will look at are irritability and a lack of output. When your body gets dehydrated you subconsciously start hating everything and everyone that isn’t water or is not presenting you with water. Your output ceases to be effective and instead becomes a hindrance to your impact on your environment. When irritability strikes spiritually, you can’t stay in one place long, your relationships with others become unenjoyable. You would rather be alone or in cyberspace than with other people who may be better hydrated spiritually than you are. On the flip side, people really don’t like being around you. Your attitude starts to reek of arrogance and self-interest. When your level of positive output begins to plummet, you begin to work against your witness just like your dehydrated kidneys begin to shrivel and cease to perform their required tasks.
If you’ve made it this far, you should high five yourself and know that I’m almost done. Dehydration, both physical and spiritual, can be prevented. It can be treated with the intake of fluids or in the spiritual case, the intake of the Holy Spirit and time with God. Here’s the cinch and I’m done – the severity of your dehydration determines the amount of replenishment needed. Just as your physical body will function properly again after the right amount of fluid replacement, your soul will begin to function properly with the right amount of Christ. Hear me, friend – while there is such thing as too much water for the body, there is never such thing as too much Jesus. But, if you are finding yourself beyond spiritual dehydration and in the danger zone, start small. Find a still moment and run to Jesus. Start somewhere and see if your soul doesn’t begin to experience the flood of His life-giving, never-ending, eternally satisfying water.
*I still can’t eat at Piccadilly without recalling that experience and I have to think really hard before walking through the door. I have never again eaten their broccoli casserole.