A glossy picture in a Christian magazine shows a young girl from a poorer nation, who splashes water onto her face from a trickling faucet. Her turban-wrapped hair, closed eyes, and lips parted in a smile show her joy as she takes a drink of life-giving water.
A look of intense delight radiates from her countenance. The caption reads, "She's tasting pure water for the first time. Imagine her excitement when it reaches her soul."
The photo reminded me of the Israelites’ water-needs when they traveled from Egypt through desert lands. Bible scholars number those exiting Egypt between 1.2 million and 2 million, plus sheep, chickens, dogs, and other animals needing water to survive.
Later, when they grumbled about their thirsts, a rock became a fountain. I had imagined at one time a garage-size rock, Moses striking it with his staff, and then a small stream of water emerging. However, trickles don't assuage the thirst of thousands upon thousands.
The story of the Israelites parched throats is in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20, but the measurable details about the fresh water God supplied are in the Psalms: "Water as abundant as the seas" and water flowing down "like rivers" (78:15-16). When Moses struck the rock, "water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly" (20).
Another psalm tells about the "God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water" (Psalm 114:8). The additional information in the psalms deepened my small puddle thinking.
God is not a trickle fountain, nor is he tight fisted with water supplies. Those desert travelers needed sufficient water. God’s moisture-starved pilgrims needed an extravagance of water, and that's just what God gave.
The Israelites also "drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:3). God kept their bodies alive with water, while their spirits feasted on his presence.
Years ago on a country road, my vehicle broke down in 100-degree weather. I only had a tiny bit of Sprite with me. I didn’t have a hat to protect my head from the heat and didn’t have appropriate shoes for walking. After two miles of hiking, my thirst was extreme. Several cars passed but none offered a lift. Disheartened and dehydrated, I needed relief. The eventual savior-truck-driver dropped me off at a convenience store where I immediately bought a drink.
Physical thirst is not the worst I've suffered. In our water-pampered nation, thirsts are easy to quench, but there are worse ways to dry up. In the October 2011 issue of “Christianity Today,” the article “Saving China’s Daughters” says that 500 women in China commit suicide every day traumatized by “gendercide and China’s one-child policy.” Tap water doesn't solve every thirst. Each person on earth needs living water whether they acknowledge the need or not.
Every day people give up on living and sink further into depression, some choosing to take their own lives. Words from an old hymn state a truth. "There’s a fountain free tis for you and me. Let us haste, oh haste, to its brink. Tis the fount of love from the source above And He bids us all, freely drink.”
We’re all in need of refreshment. Is anyone thirsty? An oasis waits. In the name of Jesus, share a cup of "living water" with the thirsty – and imagine their excitement when it reaches their souls.
Index card verse for Week 40: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).