- Keith Harris
In August, Arkansas seems to be extremely hot. But as they say (whoever “they” are), “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” At any rate, I often find myself feeling extremely thirsty. I’m sure you know the feeling. Your mouth starts to get dry. You feel as if your throat is closing up. At times it even starts to affect your speech. Your tongue clings to the sides of your mouth as if some kind of Velcro strips were on the insides of your cheeks.
Let’s face it, there is nothing like a tall glass of iced tea on a hot summer day! And it’s got to be sweet. I’m talking Alabama sweet, as in “Sweet Home…” Does it get any better? The refreshing rush of that cold, sweet liquid as it goes down your throat and eventually finds its way throughout your body. The sugar coursing through your veins as if it were intravenous. Speaking of which, do they (there’s the “they” again) make a sweet tea IV?
If we are honest, we will admit that at times our souls need this same type of refreshing. But all too often we look in the wrong places for the spiritual rejuvenation.
Do you thirst for God? Psalm 42:1-2 says, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” The Psalmist here is expressing the deep desire and longing to be refreshed by God. The presence of this longing indicates a desire for spiritual growth. There are really three kinds of spiritual thirst, and at some point in life we can all relate to these.
The Thirst of the Empty Soul
In Ephesians 2, Paul discusses the sons of disobedience and says, “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (v. 3). The empty soul is thirsty for something, but sadly the realization of what that something is cannot be clearly perceived. Thus, because of this emptiness, there exists a thirst. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”
The Thirst of the Dry Soul
The dry soul has tasted of the living water and knows what he is missing. John Piper paraphrases the statement of Jesus in John 4:14 as, “When you drink my water, your thirst is not destroyed forever. If it did that, would you feel any need of me afterward? That is not my goal. I do not want self-sufficient saints. When you drink my water, it makes a spring in you. A spring satisfies thirst, not by removing the need you have for water, but by being there to give you water whenever you get thirsty. Again and again and again. So drink…drink.” Many in this world feel as though God abandons them. But scripture is clear that God will not do so. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” What a blessing!
The Thirst of the Satisfied Soul
The satisfied soul thirsts for God because in God alone it is satisfied. He has “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Jonathan Edwards described the relationship between the spiritual good enjoyed in fellowship with Christ and the thirst for more that it produces: “Spiritual good is of a satisfying nature; and for that very reason, the soul that tastes, and knows its nature, will thirst after it, and a fullness of it, that it may be satisfied. And the more he experiences, and the more he knows this excellent, unparalleled, exquisite, and satisfying sweetness, the more earnestly he will hunger and thirst for more.”
Spiritual thirst is truly a blessing. It is a blessing because it is initiated by God. God initiates spiritual thirst in order to satisfy it. Spiritual thirst is a God-planned part of the growth of a soul toward its home in heaven. By meditating on the word of God, praying continually, serving faithfully, and loving unconditionally, we can experience the refreshment of God. May we see God for who he is. May we understand that if we ask him for a drink he will give us living water, and it will become in us a spring of water, welling up to eternal life.