I, too, thirst.

glass-of-water

“If I’m thirsty, I don’t want you to bring me a glass of water. I want you to sympathize. I want you to say: “Gloria, I too know what it feels like to be thirsty. I, too, have had a dry mouth.” I want you to connect with me through understanding the concept of drymouthedness.” – Rosie Perez as Gloria

I watched a movie so long ago and though I don’t remember many scenes, it was the above speech that sticks with me. The character was thirsty and voiced it. And of course, her partner wanted to fix her ailment. An easy remedy, he thought, as he set out to get a glass of water. But that’s not what she needed from him. She didn’t want him to minimize her complaint and offer a quick fix. What she wanted was empathy. She wanted to know that someone else felt just as she did. And when I consider why I set out to write, I think it’s for this very reason. One, I thirst. I long. I ache for more. And it’s in my heart to share. Second, I know I’m not the only one. I’m not. There’s someone else who hears my complaint of thirst. And rather than offering me tap water to shut me up, she nods her head in agreement. She looks me directly in the eye and says, “I, too, thirst.” And this comforts me. For I know I am not alone in my state of dryness. She, too, understands the concept of drymouthedness, for she is my fellow sojourner in the wilderness way.

At times, I’ve questioned what I do. In fact, I’ve shrunk back because of comments and what other people may think. Because in the course of the past year, there have been so many ups and downs. Mainly downs. And the last thing I wish to do is dishonor God. I dare not sully His name by reflecting badly on Him. For here I am, a child of God, and it seems as if I do a lot of complaining. And whining. And bellyaching. So, does this bring Him glory? Am I actively working in His kingdom plan, or by sharing my heart, am I errantly acting against it?

But this morning, it’s His very word that gives me confidence. It’s the Holy Scriptures that come to mind, and through those precious words I see people just like me. I am not the only one. And through the Psalms, I find the empathy I crave. Amidst beautiful words of hope and encouragement, I also find despair. And agitation. And fear. And heartbreak. And oddly enough, it’s those words that comfort me the most. For I know there were others who traveled before me in the wilderness way.

As a deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for You, God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while all day long people say to me,
“Where is your God?”

I remember this as I pour out my heart:
how I walked with many,
leading the festive procession to the house of God,
with joyful and thankful shouts.

Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.
I am deeply depressed;
therefore I remember You from the land of Jordan
and the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls;
all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.
The Lord will send His faithful love by day;
His song will be with me in the night—
a prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God, my rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”

Why am I so depressed?
Why this turmoil within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him,
my Savior and my God.  Psalm 42

If I were to encounter the writer of Psalm 42, I think I would shake my head in agreement. I’d look that person directly in the eye and say, “I, too, thirst.” Because I understand. The writer of this Psalm was going through a dry spell. He had tasted the living God, and nothing else would satisfy. But for reasons I don’t know, he felt desolate the moment he set pen to paper. He was depressed and his insides ached. And clearly, he felt as if God had forgotten him. But when I look deeper, I see more. Despite the heaviness, hope remains. He cried out to God in sorrow because he knew God alone was his help. And though times seemed dark, the lightness of days gone by encouraged him. He reflected on previous encounters with God… and His faithful love. It’s evident the writer was distressed, but God was still his God. And God was still his rock. Oh, he was dry alright, but he still had hope. For in his valley low, he recalled mountain highs. And he knew… highs would come again. And so, he praised Him still.

The Psalm writers didn’t hold back. They poured out their hearts but it wasn’t all light and glory and joy. They wrote about reality. Struggles. And I’m so glad they did. Because through them, I know I am not the only one. I know that they, too, thirsted in a dry and barren land. And that gives me hope. For through their steadfast faith, I am encouraged to hold fast to my own. And through their unswerving hope, mine which was lagging is bolstered. And just as they reflected on the mountain highs, I am inclined to do the same. I remember Him. I know He is faithful even when I’m not. And so, I am once again expectant. I endure the dry spell and wait. For the mountain high will come again.

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:13-14

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FacDkraAvlI 

 

 

 

A Dry Spell

WellA

I’ve been dry. Which is funny because we’ve had so much rain in the past few days that it’s been dripping through the cracks in my kitchen. While a stainless steel pot sat on my floor collecting rain, and I went through multiple towels soaking up standing water off my stovetop, the jar of clay that I am proved to be a leaky vessel. For I seem to hold no water. I feel empty with nothing to offer. Inside, I’m dry. Thus, the dry spell. Dry in every way.

I read from John chapter 4 recently and the words caused me to inwardly moan. Because what I read caused a stirring of the remaining stagnant water within me. But also, it prompted me to consider why I feel the way I do. Because what Jesus promises to a woman of Samaria applies to me, too. And honestly, I just don’t feel it today…

“Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never thirst again- ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”          John 4:13

So what of that? I’m a Christian woman, so shouldn’t I be filled with this living water? Why the dry spell? And in truth, the dryer I become, the more deadened I feel. Kind of a numbness. It takes a lot to make me laugh or cry at this stage. Like I’m an empty shell. And so, activity ensues. I begin to feel frantic and so I try to quench my thirst by feeding on heaping helpings of God’s word. And yet, nothing. Dry as a bone. An empty cistern. But then, I hear Him. He says to me, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40.

And so, I’m baffled by this statement. Because Jesus is the Word become flesh. And God’s word is powerful and transforming. His words are life. How is it, then, that devouring the Bible in mass quantities leaves me devoid of life? That’s when I hear Him again. I am reminded of Hagar of the Old Testament. She was a woman who had her own dry spells. See, she wandered through the wilderness not just once, but twice. And the wilderness of the Old Testament is not what we think of in our land. No, the wilderness was a desert, barren, wasteland. In fact, one definition shows the wilderness land to be desolate supporting little life. And so, it was amidst Hagar’s dry spells that she encountered the Living God.

The first time she encountered God was when she ran away from home. Circumstances were unfavorable as she was tired of being mistreated by her mistress. So she took off. And that’s when she met Him. But rather than encourage her on her way, God sent her back to her old life. And furthermore, He told her to submit to the mistreatment. But then, He made her a promise. For she was to have a boy child who would grow into a man. Poignantly, this visitation took place at a spring of water. And Hagar named the place Beer-lahai-roi, which means “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” So, Hagar in her dryness, must have stopped at a spring to quench her thirst. But instead, she received a word from the Living One who heard her cry out. Thus, the name of her child was to be Ishmael (God hears).

Hagar did go back to her old life. And it was some years later that she had to go away again. But this time, it wasn’t her idea. Her mistress threw her and Ishmael out. It seems as if she was meant to go away all along… just the timing was not right. And so, Hagar and her boy were sent off with only some bread and a waterskin. And they wandered through the Wilderness of Beer-sheba. Alas, the water didn’t last. And so here was a woman, dry as a bone, trying to sustain both herself and her child in a desolate land that supported little life. She must have lost all hope, for she placed her child under a bush and went and sat nearby. See she couldn’t bear to hear his cries anymore. And tragically, she was waiting for him to die. It appears that Hagar forgot her previous encounter with the Lord. It appears she didn’t recollect what He told her years before. For He said she’d have a child. And He said when Ishmael’s a man… but in her dryness, she didn’t remember. Circumstances seemed too dire. Her unfavorable circumstances loomed before her and that’s all she could see. That’s all she could dwell on.

But you know, Hagar may have forgotten, but God did not. And He heard the boy’s cries and answered. God called out instructions to Hagar, “Get up, help the boy up, and sustain him, for I will make him a great nation.” That’s when God opened her eyes and she saw. There was a well of water. It must have been there all along for she simply needed to get up and fill the waterskin. She just didn’t see it. Her despair and her fear and her hopelessness filled both her heart and her vision. She didn’t know what was right there for the taking. And the sad thing is, I don’t think she even asked God for help. I don’t think she said a word. Because it was the voice of the boy that God heard. Not hers. Unlike Hagar’s first wilderness wandering, she didn’t cry out the second time. She had lost all hope.

And so, today I hear Him. I’ve been wandering my own desert land yet again. And it appears I’ve been digging my own wells. It seems as if I’ve been trying to quench this thirst my way. I’ve been doing more, trying harder, digging deeper in God’s word, and yet, dryness. It was yesterday, my mom said that people sometimes mistake hunger for thirst. And you know, I think there’s something to that. See, I’ve been cramming myself FULL of God’s word. Hours of it. And yet, there’s still this emptiness. Perhaps what my mom said stands spiritually, as well. Perhaps I’m confusing this thirst for hunger. And as powerful as God’s word is, I need something more. I see it through that Samaritan woman in the 4th chapter of John.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. “Give Me a drink,” Jesus said to her, for His disciples had gone into town to buy food. “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.” “Sir,” said the woman, “You don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.” John 4:7-12

Jesus asks the woman for a drink, which initiates a dialogue. And so, she asks questions of Jesus. See, He pointed out that if she knew who He was, she’d ask Him for a drink. But she pointed out the obvious. Circumstances were clear to see as Jesus had no bucket and the well was deep. How could He give her water? Furthermore, she had Jacob’s well. And Jacob was a great man… a patriarch. People had been drinking from his water for years. And that’s when Jesus pointed out the obvious. Whoever drank of that water would thirst again. He offers her to drink from Him.

  “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

And so, I hear Him today. I hear Him through the lives of Hagar and an anonymous Samaritan woman. For through them, I see a picture of me. They too, had dry spells. And like them, my faith is running low right now. It’s as if I had forgotten my last encounter with the Living One Who Sees Me. It seems as if I had forgotten what He promised me. And so, my belief has waned. And despite the ceaseless wells I dig by means of activity and busyness and tasks, I remain empty. And despite my drinking from wells that many have drank from before me, I thirst again. And so, it’s here in this dry, barren place that I have no other choice. I just stop what I’m doing. And God opens my eyes to see what lay right before me. For the well of the Living Water has been here the whole time. I just didn’t see it. And because I know I don’t have it in me, I look at Him. It’s clear that despite my best efforts, I cannot satisfy this endless thirst. And so, I do the only thing I can do. I echo the plea of a Samaritan woman of long ago…

I say, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty again…”

And then, I’m able to get up. It’s then, I can help my own boy up. It’s then I can sustain him in a dry and desolate land. But first, I must be filled myself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WA92O0hxYNw