Dying of Thirst
Principle 12: Though we try to find purpose, joy and fulfillment in following ourselves, we can find the answer to our deepest needs only in God, as he provides the only adequate replacement for our self-destructive pursuits.
Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4:13-14
Inexplicably, my appetite transforms into a junk-food-fiend at about 9:30 every night. I know I shouldn’t eat, but I’m ravenous for chips, chocolate, and pizza. I tell myself to just drink a glass of water and go to bed, but in that state of mind, water doesn’t satisfy my appetite.
I remember a time though, when a glass of water was all I wanted. While wrestling in college, I used to cut the last five or ten pounds of weight through dehydration, and by the time I weighed in, I would fantasize about pools of water. Because I was dying of thirst, I wanted water more than anything.
In today’s passage, Jesus used water as a metaphor for our appetites of life. We all try to find our joy, purpose, and meaning in something. We may pursue drugs, food, or money to feel good, or, we may simply try to find our meaning in work, family, or status. These aren’t all bad things, they’re just not capable of fulfilling our deepest needs. Because these pursuits are fragile and flawed, their high doesn’t last. Success and money aren’t forever. Beauty fades. We know this, but still, we all try to find satisfaction in things that cannot truly make us happy.
In today’s passage, Jesus explained that we all have a thirst that can only be satisfied with one thing. God made us in such a way that we can only know true life, joy, and peace in him. It is only when we drink the living water, that we may know authentic, eternal life.
What does this mean? It means that though we may not realize it, we are all dehydrated, dying for the living water. We always need God, but often, we ruin our appetite with the immediate gratifications of life. Like me, at night, we all pursue satisfaction in those things that cannot make us happy. When we try, we inevitably find only emptiness and futility.
We must daily fill ourselves, not with the fleeting pursuits of the world, but with God. If we want to know true satisfaction, then we must continually, drink deeply of God, reading his word, praying, listening, and meditating. We must daily insist on turning from our path to his. In pursuing our relationship with God, he grows eternal life in us, which is the only thing in this world that can truly satisfy all of our deepest needs.
Author’s Note: I’m currently writing through the principles that have helped me understand my condition as a Christian who still has very real struggles with my destructive appetites. I’ll include the full list here for reference.
- God created us to live in communion with Him, but man’s sin fractured that communion.
- We all struggle with flaws in our corrupt flesh nature, though it has different manifestations in all of us.
- When we come faith in Jesus Christ, we are born again into a new, perfect spirit life and restored to communion with God, but we still carry this gift in a flawed flesh life.
- Though God may graciously deliver us from some thorns of the flesh, some battles are lifelong, requiring the ongoing work of denying self and following Christ.
- We may always feel the gravity of the flesh, but we are not to live enslaved to it. We are meant to know and experience freedom daily in Christ.
- The Christian life (discipleship) is a continual process of abandoning (crucifying) the flesh nature and following Christ.
- Though we will fail, there is always grace and forgiveness for those who believe in Christ.
- Though we are forgiven, we are not to use grace as an excuse to continue in our destruction.
- God’s eternal forgiveness does not absolve us from practical, earthly consequences.
- As we all struggle, we must be continually honest, not constructing a facade of perfection, as this is detrimental to our recovery and the recovery of others.
- We should regularly meet together with the purpose of encouraging each other to abandon the old life for the pursuit of God.
- Though we try to find purpose, joy and fulfillment in following ourselves, we can find the answer to our deepest needs only in God, as he provides the only adequate replacement for our self-destructive pursuits.
- Transformation (sanctification) is not an automatic process. It is our responsibility to daily do whatever it takes to deny self and follow Christ. The Holy Spirit always does his part. We must do ours.
- God allows the daily battles and honest struggles of recovery to deepen our awareness of our constant need for God.
- Our eternal identity as Christians is in our new life in Christ. Acknowledging our persistent flesh life and its battles does not deny our position in Christ bur rightly identifies the forgiveness and power that alone can be found in Christ as we daily experience life through Him.
- God saves us from ourselves. We must tell others what He has done for us.