How thirsty are you?
I mean it. How thirsty are you right now? Have you stopped recently to notice or think about it? When was the last time you had a drink of water? Is just reading this making you thirsty for cool, clean water?
Most of the IHS congregation knows I like to visit central Florida as much as possible. I'm a huge Disney World fan, and my family uses our Disney timeshare often. If I had my way, we'd always go to Disney in the fall, or maybe the spring. As we all know, we don't always get what we want, and sometimes life offers us something different. Because I'm married to a school principal, the ideal time for us to go is right in the middle of the hot, hot summer. Have you ever been to Florida in July or August? I've never been that thirsty in my life! The humidity is so intense that the moment you leave an air conditioned building you're dripping in sweat. You absolutely know you are thirsty.
Other climates are different. Have you ever visited the southwest of the United States or a desert climate? A couple years ago, we took a trip to Las Vegas for our anniversary. Everyone warned us: drink as much water as possible. They told us, you won't even know when you are thirsty, it is so dry! If you visit the Grand Canyon, there are signs posted around the park saying "Stop! Drink Water. You are thirsty whether you realize it or not."
Stop. Drink water. You are thirsty whether you realize it or not. These are words to live by, and I don't just mean in a physical sense.
The prophet Isaiah made a similar call to the Jews in Babylonian Exile:
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.
The prophet calls the people to come and drink from the free water, free food, free abundant riches of God. The prophet calls as if in the market, "ho! come and buy!" yet this market is not like the world's marketplace. In God's economy, all is freely poured out and given for our life, at no cost.
But it's more than that, it includes a question, maybe even a rebuke: why do you spend your money for what doesn't satisfy?
Today, the same free offering is there for us at all times. God's abundant life and love are there, and God is calling to us to come and receive it. Yet all day, every day, we distract ourselves with other things. We give our attention constantly to social media, entertainment, news headlines, smart phones and computers, ads that want us to think that in spending our money, working hard, we can get more, have more, and be happier. The world constantly teaches us, this is how you have a good life: through working hard, getting promotions, getting raises, spending money, getting the newest things you need, having more than other people, making your Instagram or Facebook look great, to constantly strive for more, more, more, more.
"We settle for scraps when we could be feasting" writes Daryl Trimiew in Feasting on the Word. What God offers is more abundant and life giving than anything the world makes us work for and spend to get. And it is free for us, all of the time. This is the call of God to abide in relationship to him, not as some far off Being in the clouds, distant from us, but as the constant abiding love and life for us in our daily lives.
The third practice in the Way of Love is Pray. Pray seems like such a simple practice, why is it even in the Way of Love? It is there because it is the most central tool in our Christian toolbox, the most effective weapon in our spiritual arsenal to combat our enemies of sin, the Devil, and death. Prayer is how we draw on the life of God to sustain our life. It is the feast we are called to.
We see Lent as a time of fasting, because we give up physical things, we give up material, we fast from indulgences. But if during this time of Lent we draw closer to God, abide in him, and take more time for prayer, it is not season of fasting, but of feasting. We feast during Lent on the rich food, wine, and honey of God's abundant life. We are invited to receive the water of life and the bread of life. We are called to God's Table, where we feast on food that satisfies far more than anything the world could ever give.
How thirsty are you? More thirst than you could ever know and realize. But God calls you to come and drink from his endless well. Come! Come drink the water of life that Jesus gives, which is himself. Come and receive him in prayer. Today, take time for him. Today, come and take time to pray. Drink the water Jesus gives and you will never be thirsty again.