So often when someone reaches out for help, they are like parched ground. Confused, hurting, worn out from effort – without hope. They aren’t quite sure how they got to this scorched land, but they feel the drought and the resulting dehydration. Often they sense it is life-threatening and the truth is, this may actually be so.
In these moments God is faithful to remind me that I am not the solution for their thirsty soul. They are thirsty for so much more than anything I, or this world, can offer. They are thirsty for Him and that thirst is not a curse but His good gift – He is teaching them of their need for Him and preparing them to know Him in brand new ways that only this barren place can bring them to. The greatest error I might commit is to try to satisfy their soul needs with myself. What a joy it is to be able to direct them to the One who promises, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14), and know with confidence that the promise He made to the Samaritan woman at the well continues to ring true today for every thirsty soul who turns to Him.
How Do We End up in the Parched Land?
Just like in the natural world, soul dehydration doesn’t happen all at once; it’s a process. One day at a time, one choice at a time, people – even God’s people – look for satisfaction for their thirst in the wrong places. God explains it to Jeremiah this way: “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). It’s not that the people of Israel didn’t know they were thirsty. They felt their thirst keenly. The problem was, in their pursuit of satisfaction for that thirst, they turned away from God and contrived their own solutions. The broken cistern is such a poignant metaphor. It takes effort to get water to the cistern, the water in the cistern is stale and can quickly become polluted, and a broken cistern will leak all that hard effort away. So much toil without resulting satisfaction! Instead of satiation, thirst grows.
God Meets People in the Barren Land
God communicates the same message through Isaiah: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2).
God’s heart for thirsty souls is to see them satisfied. Is there anguish in that passage? Do we hear the heart of God aching for the way His people languish in this world, existing as though there is no Living Water? Yes, Christ died to change eternal destiny, but He also died to change life in this world. As counselors, we have the privilege of providing a real hope- not just water that will satisfy for the moment, but Living Water that is fully satisfying for all time and even beyond time.
God’s Offer is Abundantly Satisfying
In God’s communication to and through Isaiah, He leaves no doubt as to His means of provision for the thirsty soul. “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:2-3). Listen. Incline your ear. Hear. Thirsty souls find satisfaction in the living Word of God. You hear no hint of a dutiful requirement here. Pursuit of the knowledge of God should be as natural to thirsty souls as drinking water in the desert. And not just any water, but spring water that’s fresh and pure and flows from an endless source to provide perfectly for thirsty souls. We don’t call people to the Word of God because they SHOULD come to it. We call them because they GET TO come to it, to Him, to the Living Water who promises that “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14).
In His words to the woman at the well, Jesus extends the blessing He is offering her with these words: “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Not only is the soul who seeks Him nourished for this life and the next, but the Living Water He provides for each life becomes life-giving for others. The Samaritan woman lost none of the personal benefit of the Living Water when she ran into town to share it with others. When God gives us the privilege of speaking His hope into another’s life, we will do well to help them catch this vision: the Lord is sustaining and nourishing their soul from a wellspring that can be used to sustain and nourish other thirsty souls as well.
Questions for Reflection
How have you experienced the Living Water in your own life become life-giving to others? During times of drought in your spiritual life, what passages of Scripture have acted as an encouragement to your soul?