It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan of Diet Coke. It’s my beverage of choice. I like the bubbles – that’s the main appeal – and it works for me because I’d rather eat my calories than drink them and when I have the caffeine-free variety, essentially it’s just brown bubble water that I’m drinking – and I’m ok with that! 🙂
Basically I don’t drink any other soft drink. Not Coke, not even Coke Sugar Free – not Pepsi (Pepsi Max, Pepsi Light, Pepsi Next etc), not Sprite or Fanta … just Diet Coke. If I’m on a plane or at a restaurant and they don’t have Diet Coke I’ll just drink water – that’s how loyal I am to Diet Coke! 🙂
The thing is though, if I am SUPER thirsty …I’m somewhere really hot and I’m NEEDING hydration or I’ve been exercising or something … I’ve been known to lower my standards and drink one of the aforementioned beverages! It’s a compromise and it goes against my inner-sensibilities – but there are some times when the desperation of thirst overrides my discernment and my better judgement!
You hear stories of survival in extreme situations – Stuart Diver trapped in the Thredbo landslide, Aron Ralston of “127 hours” fame (a rock climber who got his hand stuck in a rock and famously severed it in order to free himself) etc – where people have got so desperate for hydration that they drank their own urine! Because ultimately, thirst is a need that MUST be satiated! In the end, the need of our body will override any stigmas or distaste in order to get what is required to sustain the functions of the body.
In John 4:7-26, Jesus uses this basic human need to illustrate the most fundamental of spiritual needs. He meets a woman at a well, where she has come to get ACTUAL water, and speaks to her about the needs of her heart that can only be satisfied by “living water” – that is, relationship with Christ Himself.
This woman has been married multiple times and is living with a guy who isn’t her husband – you can appreciate something of the brokenness she must’ve experienced in her life. She’s drawing water in the middle of the day – possibly to avoid the other women of the town (unfortunately, we can too easily imagine what the attitude and action of people might have been toward her). Some speculate that the reason for her multiple marriages is infertility – there was no greater stigma than being unable to bear children and it would’ve been an acceptable grounds for her husbands to reject her.
As innate as our physical need for water is our soul need for relationship. It’s how we were made – created in the image of a relational God to experience fullness of relationship in Him. Our need for relationship is a powerful driving force in our life, a desire that seeks fulfilment, a need that propels us to do whatever we must in order to satisfy it.
Jesus talks about a kind of relationship that wholly satisfies – found in the love of our Heavenly Father and made possible for us through Jesus Himself – where our deepest needs and hearts desires are met completely.
When the object of our heart is Him, the focus of our devotion, the source of understanding of ourselves, the sense of acceptance, value and belonging is met in Him and through the love He pours out upon us we find our need for relationship satiated. When we are no longer relationally “dehydrated” we are then far more discerning in our relationships with others. We are better positioned to GIVE because our needs aren’t tied up in them; we process praise or criticism more appropriately, we handle disappointment more effectively – in fact we are disappointed LESS OFTEN because our expectations are more realistic, we are less influenced by others’ opinions and pressures.
Imagine the transforming impact on your relationships if you were so fulfilled in relationship with Jesus that you didn’t NEED anything from others – rather, you were just able to enjoy what they DID give you and to give generously to them. THAT is the invitation Jesus offered the woman at the well and offers still to us – “whoever drinks what I give them will never thirst again”.