Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10
There are moments along our journey when we need to hear those same words: “If you knew the gift of God..” For they are all around us, always, but we often miss them. Pass them by in an attempt to grab more of what we think we have less of. And the gift slips through our fingers.
One of those gifts is time. We know that we are not promised tomorrow, but we still plan for next week. I don’t believe that God is entirely against planning, but we live a lifestyle that is a far cry from His Son, precious Jesus who lived daily dependence upon his Father. Please show me the passage where Jesus told someone, “I’m sorry but I can’t do that. I have plans.” Jesus lived responding to needs, and trusted his Father to make provision. Jesus never needed more time. He always had enough.
I recently picked up the book One Thousand Gifts again. I have a tendency to think that I understand “the point” of a book and subsequently fail to finish it. However, I recognized that I would have time – eight hours to be exact – to read while I worked a third shift. The chapter “A Sanctuary of Time” was hitting the nail on the head. She described preparing a gift of food for her children and found herself lost in the thoughts of everything that would still need to be done. Even as her children enjoyed the treat, her mind raced through the new list: washing the plates, picking up the toys, making another meal, preparing children for bed, picking up again and crawling in bed exhausted. If only there was more time, right?
But later in the chapter she realizes that no one needs more time. We only need enough time. And we already do, but sometimes we miss that gift from God. The author makes the point of saying that time is not money, but “time is life.” So true. And I used one of the only things I remember from Geometry class to help me understand that more: If time is life, and life is living water, then time is living water. (If that’s not how geometrical proofs work, don’t ruin it for me. It works in my head.)
Time, to me, has all the properties of a liquid. First, it is not something you can hold in your hands without another object. Think of photographs, which essentially capture time. But in the present, you cannot hold time. You also cannot manipulate time on your own. In fact, when you step into time, you are immediately surrounded by it. As you move, you create ripples that go out from you. And when you step out of time, it will be as if you were never there. Think about it. Tell me one person who has left a hole in the substance of time. Now some have left some pretty big waves, that is true. And the energy of their waves pushes up against the shore of infinite time, affecting those in their path, and then carry the energy back into the ocean of time. I will grant you that Jesus changed the pH of the water – the acid no longer eats at us – but that is only if we consume the living water.
So if time is liquid and time is living water, what can we do? We can consume it. We can have enough of it. Consider the following symptoms: thirst, loss of appetite, fatigue (beginning stages); increased heart rate, increased body temperature, headaches, extreme fatigue (5% loss); dim vision, confusion, chest and abdominal pain, racing pulse (10% loss). Have I described to you the symptoms of dehydration or the symptoms of spiritual dehydration – or are they the same? Is your fatigue from lack of water or lack of living water? Is your pulse racing because you need to hydrate or need to consume Jesus? Do you experience confusion because you ran out of cups, or because you refuse to let your cup be filled to overflowing?
This hit me so clearly yesterday. A day when I only had a nap after working a third shift. How could I feel so good when I should be so tired? Because I was drinking living water. I used my time to read from the Word, from One Thousand Gifts, and from The Jesus I Never Knew. I was spiritually hydrated. But guess what? Unless you have a hump on your back that you have not told me about, you cannot store up water. So you cannot store up living water. It needs constant replenishment. If you drink nothing today, you will certainly notice it tomorrow. If you have increased activity today, you will need hydration before the day is done. So why have we allowed ourselves to think we can drink for an hour or two on Sunday and get through the week? You are bound to experience confusion, and heatstroke is right around the corner.
Even though I felt great yesterday, that was yesterday. My hydration needs will be different today, and I must recognize that. I even recognized that this clever title of “Rooted and Reaching” is a miss of the mark. I must be rooted to be reaching. A tree does not will itself to grow. No! It drinks of the water and turns the absorption of the sun into life. But I cannot tell you how many times, how many days, I have tried to make my branches go where I want them to go. Now, today at least, I know that I should allow my roots to drink. God will provide the growth.
If time is life, and life is living water, it is also possible that we could consume too much. So consider these symptoms: loss of emotional restraint, impaired judgment, confusion when facing tasks requiring thinking, memory loss, unable to be aroused, comatose, possible death. Here have I described progressive symptoms of intoxication, or someone who consumes too much time too quickly – or both? This is no indictment on alcoholic beverages, but simply a mirror to ask about your consumption levels. Your life consumption levels. Some of us put too much into too short a time. Some of us draw false energy and false freedom from the wrong sources. And we crash. We have impaired judgment. Maybe it is time to be cleaned out.
I don’t know why it has taken me this long to recognize the purpose in our body design containing so much water. But at least I see it now. You see, every thing that we consume is an attempt to fill a void. And one of the biggest voids we have is a thirst for affirmation. For love. If you look deeply enough, you will see that almost every thing we do is driven by a thirst to be affirmed, approved, loved. Again, the enemy lies and asks, “Did God actually say He would love you – even after what you did?” It’s the fear of Adam and Eve played out over and over, again and again. “Surely” we think, “God cannot love us now.” So we drink the world’s affirmation. We make ourselves more appealing, we believe. We cater to needs. We try to make ourselves better, to have more. Even in my giving I have recognized a thread of this. I give to be well-thought of, to be well-liked. I don’t trust that I can be loved if I have nothing to give.
If we have nothing to give. Sounds like serious dehydration, or intoxication. When did Jesus ever ask for more than what was already there? He only ever asked for what was already there. He told his disciples, “Follow me.” He gave the loaves and fishes that were already there. And he simply asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. She was already coming to draw water; Jesus simply asked her to redirect her purpose. To use what she thought she needed for herself – and give it to him. If we knew, if we only knew God’s gift, we would not miss this.
Even Christ followed this principle. He gave what he already had – his life and his love – and redirected its purpose. And what was the result? He received in return the gift of living water from his Father. Christ’s love now is multiplied exponentially through us, the “little Christs.” His life was given over for eternal life, so that he will never thirst again.
You have been given a gift. Time. And now you have been asked to redirect its purpose, to give what you thought was for you over to the One who can give something better. My oldest son just told me his cup of water tastes like “dishwater.” I advised him that if he allowed the water to become colder first, he would like it. As he hesitated I pointed out, “Or you can keep drinking water that you don’t really want.” Is that what you’re doing? Are you drinking the world’s affirmation even though it tastes awful? Or are you drinking the living water so that you will never thirst again? Each day, each moment is liquid. It’s up to you what you choose to drink.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst again. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:13-15