How did you cope with the extremely high temperatures this summer? It was nice to have a warm summer for a change, but many people I’ve spoken to had begun to think that it was just a bit too hot, and for longer than they would have liked. My mind went back to the songs of a former age as I quipped, “The green, green grass of home has turned white!”
By the time the inevitable storms broke, many were threatening to run out into the torrents to celebrate, but I contented myself with standing at the open window and inhaling the wonderful fresh smell of the rain.
Water is indispensable to life, of course. I’ve been reading an excellent historical novel, Cat and Mouse by Tim Vicary, in which there are vivid descriptions of a suffragette on hunger strike, who decided to stop drinking to add to her protest. Aching limbs, headaches and spots before the eyes featured in the experience described, as the woman was warned that, should she carry on this way, death would shortly follow.
John’s gospel tells of an encounter between Jesus and a woman beside a well. There’s no question of this woman being in such a dire condition; she had chosen to come to the well in the heat of the day to carry water back home. Her regular visit that day, however, was far more productive than she had expected. Jesus challenged the cultural differences between them by asking for a drink. His next comment completely threw her as he offered ‘living water’, contrasting this to the water she would draw from the well.
He explained that, after drinking the water from the well, people would in time be thirsty again; what he offered was what Isaiah had spoken about centuries earlier: “I [i.e. God] will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isa. 44:3).
What Jesus described as “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13) was nothing less than God’s Holy Spirit, which Paul later described as a ‘down payment’, or ‘deposit’, of the eternal life that is ours when we believe (Ephesians 1:14).
Next time you think, ‘I could do with a drink,’ ask yourself if you are also in need of living water.