Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Learning to Thirst

One of the things I love about intense physical exercise is the sense it gives you of your own body.  I'm not talking about a weird mysticism, but the more I work out, the more I have a sense of what my body needs in a moment or how I am feeling.  Sometimes it is a soreness that wakes up stiff muscles; other times, it is digging deep into energy reserves for a big push and burning quads.  I really enjoy this feeling. I believe we glorify God when we use what He has given us to explore His creation and test our personal limits.

A few weeks ago, we had some of the hottest days of the year.  While most people hunkered down in their air conditioning and waited out the heat wave, I went for a bike ride.  The heat index in Minnesota was well over 100 degrees F, and the wind was whipping across the open farm fields at about 15 miles per hour. Everything about the day was intense.  As I rode along, I asked myself several times, "am I really out here, braving this?!"  About ten minutes into the ride, I grabbed my water bottle and took my first gulp of water.  At that instant, a feeling rushed through my body. It was as if my body was screaming out, "Wow! That is exactly what I need!"  My body was so thirsty that there was physical response of relief and refreshment.

It is easy to forget how spiritually dry our lives can be.  Often, it is not until we take a much needed spiritual drink, such as spending time together in prayer, having an engaging spiritual conversation or meditating on a passage of scripture, that we realize how spiritually thirsty we actually are.  How easy it is to forget to grab that drink of water!  It is not until after we have been refreshed that we realize just how thirsty we were.

On the largest day of the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, Jesus stood up before the crowd and said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37,38).  In fact, Jesus uses this a few times.  He says something like this to the woman at the well.  In both cases, Jesus was alluding to the words of the prophets.  They spoke of God as a fountain of living water.  This metaphor resonated with the people living on the edge of a desert where water is an important resource.  And on hot summer days, we understand a piece of what it means to thirst physically. And as we grow in our communion with God, we will also begin to understand what it means to thirst spiritually.

May the hot summer days we've had this summer remind us that we are ever in need of staying spiritually hydrated!