“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can” Timothy Keller
There’s nothing like working in the hot Texas Summer sun to make you thirsty. Jim and I (well, okay, mostly Jim) helped do some home-improvement work for family a few days ago, and there were times that it seemed I just couldn’t drink enough water to satiate my thirst (the nutritionist in me says, “b/c your sodium level was low, dummy”, but that’s beside the point here).
I was reminded of John 4, where Jesus offers a woman “living water” that would make her “never thirst again.” Now, the idea of “living water” is one that has taken me a while to really begin to understand. I mean, I’ve always thought it was a neat concept and all. What Christian doesn’t? The idea of God satisfying us fully, and we “never being thirsty again” (whatever the heck that really means, right?).
Well, this past year especially, God has been showing me how much I loooove non-living water, the stuff that leaves you to get thirsty again. Much like chemical dependencies, it only pleases at the moment you take it, and it guarantees that you will have, let’s just say, not-so-fun cravings for it when it’s not available, which, mark my words: non-living water is guaranteed to not be available every time you want it.
What is this non-living water? Well, for each person it may look a little different. But what’s equally important are the thirsts that we try to quench with this water. The thirsts that I personally have are all over the map. Sometimes it’s the thirst for love or affection. Sometimes the thirst is to feel appreciated, or important, or respected, or valued, or …
You know. It’s the things we all want, and some that we need – and were even created to need.
So the key is: What water are we drinking to satiate those thirsts, those emotional needs?
Unfortunately, I often try to drink from the water-well of those who are dearest to me, to their detriment. When I want deep, perfect, selfless love and affection, I often try to ring that water out of my dear, precious husband. The poor guy is only human, and the expectations I sometimes put on him can be flat-out ree. dic. u. lous. There is nothing. And I mean nothing, that can meet my outrageous hopes and desires except my Savior, Jesus. Only when I truly understand and bask in the truths of all He did for me on the cross, and all He does for me daily as I walk with Him, will this deep desire to be loved and pursued ever be met. This is no slight to my husband (he is superman, after all – but don’t tell) I can 100% guarantee you that no man or woman out there can fully and incessantly satisfy the deepest longings of your heart or mine.
The thing is, though, that non-living water does appear to satisfy. We might even be able to say that it does satisfy – but only for a moment! But then we get thirsty again, and this time when we run to the water that we got a drink of the last time, it doesn’t satisfy! So maybe we run to another source. Soon enough, though, we are left parched because the water wasn’t living water, and it didn’t last.
When we try to get this water (satisfy our deep emotional needs) from others, we get manipulative; we try to force them to give us the water we so desperately want, and then we blame them when they don’t meet our needs.
But they were never meant to meet our needs.
I believe we were given the desire for affection so that we would be drawn to the One who loves us so much that He gave His very life for us (John 3:16).
I believe we were given the desire for acceptance so that we would come to the One who has accepted us just exactly as the filth that we are and has adopted us as His own (Rom 5:8, 8:14-16).
I believe we were given the desire to accomplish great things so that we would turn to the only One through whom we can accomplish anything of any significance (John 15:5).
I believe we desire security so that we may run to the great I Am, who is unwaveringly sovereign, and good, and trustworthy (Prov 30:5).
Finish this sentence: “I would be so much happier if only my spouse/kids/friends would ______.” This usually helps reveal what our emotional thirsts are (although, there are many desires we have that just flat-out come from our sinful nature, and these just need to be surrendered: for example, the desire to be in control of every aspect of our lives, and others’ lives; the desire – stemming from our self-blinding pride – to be acknowledged as always being right; etc)
Stop trying to use people and things to satisfy your God-given emotional thirsts, and instead turn to the Source of Living-Water. Drink deeply. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed (not to mention you’ll be much more pleasant to be around).