WAYPOINTS: Living Water
Some years back my wife, Claudia, and I were privileged to spend the better part of a week camping out in the Sinai Desert. Preparing for the trip we were each given a plastic one-gallon jug of water to carry with us at all times. I remember our leaders asking how many of us were used to warm climates. Our little cadre of southerners all raised our hands. Then they told us that our experience in the hot and humid south was going to be nothing like what we would be facing in the Sinai. They were right. The daytime temperatures while we were there ranged from 110 to more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Our leaders impressed upon us that if any of us were to find ourselves separated from the rest of the group we were not to move about searching, but, instead, sit down and let the group find us. It seems a person sitting still in those temperatures only loses around one and a half liters of body fluid per hour. Our fearless leaders were correct. The perspiration that poured out of us evaporated so rapidly that none of it ever showed on our clothes, but wherever skin touched skin a veritable river of sweat poured from the spot.
In such circumstances, one begins to appreciate something as simple as a drink or a cool cloth. We stopped at one point to replenish our water supplies at a well. It was nothing more than a hole in the sand with a tripod and a bucket, and the water it produced was brackish — but at that time and in that place nothing could have tasted better. One of the most memorable events of the trip occurred when our jeeps dropped us off on a bluff from which we could see an oasis about a mile off. Our hike towards it gradually picked up speed as we drew nearer to that green spot in the middle of nowhere and the last hundred yards or so found us doing the desert version of a wind-sprint. Flopping into that cool water was sweet beyond belief. All of us vowed to never take water for granted again. It really is the stuff of life.
Our adventure gave me a little taste of what it must have been like for our forefathers during their exodus time in that same wilderness. How desperate they were for water in that barren place, and how wonderfully God provided that life-giving water for them.
People don’t have to live in the Sinai desert to find themselves thirsty. There is much about the world in which we live that is spiritually dry and barren. We’ve got the basics of food, clothing and shelter covered, and a whole lot more. We amuse ourselves pretty much whenever and wherever we want with cell phones, computers, movies, sports, concerts, television — you name it. We work hard and play just as hard. So how come with all of the distractions, life still tastes of dust for so many? How come so many of us are always thirsting for something more?
Such thirst is nothing new. Jesus once met a woman at a well in Samaria whose whole life had been a frantic search for something more. In the ensuing conversation Jesus told her, “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) Jesus’ words changed her forever. They can do the same for us as well.
There is nothing wrong with living life to the fullest, for experiencing as much of its wonder as we can. Just know that those experiences ultimately will not slake your thirst for meaning — only living water can do that, and Jesus is the only source of that water. He is like that oasis in the desert. Wise men and women race to be washed clean in its waters and drink deeply of eternal life.
The Rev. Mike Hesse is senior pastor of Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin.