From Pauses for Pentecost
Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
Biblical writers repeatedly associate the Holy Spirit with water. This shouldn’t surprise us. Living in arid areas often characterized by dryness and drought, they know from firsthand experience how they depend on the availability of water. Where there is water, there is always the possibility of fresh life. Water’s absence means famine. As a result, in their search for symbols that will speak of the life-giving activity of God’s Spirit, they naturally think of water. Water will come to symbolize the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, bringing life to a dry and thirsty land.
In Jesus’s words above, he promises the gift of living water. Unlike water that stands and become stagnant, living water refers to receiving a certain kind of life from his Spirit, life which is continuous, always flowing, and never-ending. Jesus makes the bold claim that, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, he can satisfy our thirst forever. His “living water” will not fail us, let us down, or run dry. Jesus’s living water is a stream of blessing that bubbles up from within us and flows through us to others. In the sometimes stifling and draining heat of daily life, this is surely one of our deepest needs.
We thirst in so many ways. We thirst for meaning and significance, for connection and intimacy, for affirmation and acceptance. When our thirst goes unquenched, we find ourselves dried up inside. Our lives become empty and barren and sick with unfulfilled longing. Our need for the living water that Jesus promises, the water of his presence and never-give-up love, is profound. Two simple verbs guide us in our response to Jesus’s promise: come and drink. We come to Christ as we are in our need and in our longing. By faith we drink his refreshing, personal presence through his Spirit. In this constant pattern of coming and drinking, our desert-like lives blossom forth again with the life that God’s Spirit gives.
With every glass of water you drink today, come to Christ and drink the living water he gives.