Reading: John 7:37 – 44
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.” John 7:37 – 39
A few months ago a group of men from the church we attend set off for a day to visit a national forest about an hour outside of Addis Ababa. It is home to a beautiful centuries old cypress forest that has been preserved for over 400 years. But the real highlight of the forest is not the trees, but rather the mountain, Suba Mountain.
We hiked hard to get the top of that mountain (at least I did being as out of shape as I am and the altitude was wreaking havoc on me) . I was relieved when we reached the top, but my friend looked at us and said, “There’s an impressive mountain over there, let’s hike to it.” Up for the challenge I said yes and we started off at a pretty quick pace. I was dying. My legs were becoming rubbery. My head was killing me. I thought I was going to die. You think I’m exaggerating, but I assure you that I am not.
And then it hit me that I had not brought water with me. I was on the hike of my life and I didn’t have any water. I was becoming dehydrated and my body was rebelling against this activity. I eventually landed in a heap and let the rest of the group hike to the summit while I sat and tried to muster enough strength for the hike back to camp.
This is not only how I climb mountains (unsuccessfully) but also how at times I try to live life. Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice (I love the emphasis), “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” Anyone who is thirsty? Let’s be real, most of us are thirsty today. At some point in time we started doing life on our own power and our own strength and we find ourselves burnt out, exhausted from life and needing a break. Jesus’ loud voice calls us back, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”
Then He continues to talk about the Spirit being rivers of living water that flow in us as His followers. Isn’t that an amazing image. A flowing river that continually flows in and through those who trust in Jesus. We don’t need to be thirsty. As we come to know Jesus and as The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, there is a river flowing through us. All of the time.
But wait. I’m a Jesus follower and I still get thirsty. I thirst deep inside of me and I keep trying to fill it, but it isn’t full. Where is the Holy Spirit, then?
Could it be because we forget about His Presence and being present to Him? Could it be that like my journey where I set out without my water bottle, we often set off forgetting that He is present to us? Or could it be that we even forget that He has accepted us and we start to prove our worth ourselves on our own strength? Could it be that at times we say that Jesus has quenched our thirst with our mouths while deep down we have other thirsts that we haven’t yet given Him access to?
Jesus calls out to you and I today in a loud voice – “Are any of you thirsty? If you are, come to me, sit with me and let me fill you with all you’ll ever need.”