I ran a marathon one time. The jury is still out on whether that will ever happen again. I planned to meet my wife at strategic places along the way to receive a sports energy drink so that I didn’t have to stop at all the hydration stations and get tangled up with other runners. The last stop was Mile 20. As I approached that marker, I looked for her and our two small sons, but couldn’t find her. I stopped at every hydration station that I could find from then on, but they weren’t close enough. I could feel the dehydration setting deep into the muscles of my hamstrings, thighs, and calves. My body started breaking down. My legs seized in three different places at once. When I tried to stretch one group of muscles out, others would cramp up. My body was crying out for water.
That’s as thirsty as I’ve ever been. I finished the race, but at a pace that was a little slower than my goal. As I drank fluids afterwards, my body returned to normal and my muscles relaxed. After a couple of days, I’d fully recovered.
John contrasts the reality of thirst (v. 37) and the possibility of overcoming it with the phrase rivers of living water (v. 38). This image of God’s Spirit filling those who are empty is powerful. Many of us sense that we are thirsty, but don’t actually know the extent of our thirst. The invitation that Jesus offers us is the same one our passage declares: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me” (v. 37). This urges us to receive the replenishing, sustaining, and transforming Spirit that powers our lives with love, justice, and meaning.
When has your soul felt thirsty? How do you pray about this?
Living Water, teach me how to stay hydrated. Help me recognize my steadfast need for you and your steadfast love that will sustain me. Amen.