Water is essential to our lives, and God’s word is water for our souls. It is every bit as necessary and influential to our spiritual lives as is physical water to our lives on this planet. Ephesians 5:26 ays God’s word washes over us as water, so we are studying water, its effects on us and our world, and we’re looking at similarities with God’s word. Last time we were together, we talked about the way water shapes and changes our world and how God’s word should do the same for our lives. Next time, we’re going to look at the ways water washes us. Today, we’re going to talk about refreshment and sustenance.
A Refreshing Word, a Refreshing People
In Acts 3:19, Peter calls on those listening to him to “repent and tun back, so that your sins may be blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Also, in John 7:37, Jesus stands on the last of day of the Feast of Booths and calls out, “If anyone thirsts, come to me and drink.” In both of these cases, water is being referenced as something that refreshes, that energizes us, and that revives us.
Think about how if feels after you’ve been out working in the sun, running a marathon, or hiking in the woods — how good it feels to just get a mouthful of water during or after those activities. It may just be a splash to keep you going, but that water reenergizes and refreshes you. Water is the most revitalizing thing we can consume, but we might turn to the wrong thing at times. We don’t actually listen to our needs. For example, many times you go to grab a snack, drink a glass of water instead. You might be mistaking thirst for hunger, and you will then end up eating too much or make yourself more dehydrated by pursuing the wrong solution. It’s important to know when our bodies need water instead of some substitute.
The same is true of God’s word. We live in a world that is always wearing us out, but turning to God can be that moment of refreshment that gives me the energy to keep pressing on in that race the Hebrew writer describes in chapter 12. The world may leave us parched and weary, but God is always there to freshen us up, renew our energy, and help us renew our work in Him. The challenge is that the world offers may alternatives that look refreshing and that seem like they will reenergize us. The truth is that we might be left more spiritually parched than when we started. Psalm 81:10 portrays God saying that He will fill our mouths with good things. His is the only true and lasting refreshment.
We should then be a refreshing people. Matthew 5:13 calls us the salt of the world, and Colossians 4:6 says our speech should always be gracious, as seasoned with salt. Being around a Christian should simply leave a good taste with anyone we meet, and that should leave others longing for more. Galatians 5:22 – 23 says we produce a spiritual fruit when we behave a certain way — again, something that is flavorful and refreshing. Just as God’s word refreshes us, so should we be refreshing to others. If we are filling ourselves with the true water from Heaven rather than the sugar water of this world, we will be sources of refreshment.
A Sustaining Water
An even deeper purpose of water is one of sustenance. Put simply, we need water to survive, and nothing else can act as substitute. Mountain Dew, coffee, tea, Pepsi, root beer floats, orange juice — we can take a great number of fluids, but none of them can take the place of water. In fact, some of these other liquids are actively harmful to our bodies, and the other ingredients actually serve to actively remove any and all health benefits of the water they contain. The caffeine in coffee actively dehydrates us despite the water in it. A diet cola may acidify our blood and deplete our bodies of calcium despite the water it contains. Water is the single best fluid for keeping our bodies alive and well. Nothing else suffices.
Just as we might look to the world for energy or refreshment, we might come to lean on the world for spiritual sustenance. Unfortunately, there is none to find. We may seek to strengthen ourselves, but instead the things of this world slowly eat away at us, just as rust and moths eat away at the treasures of this world in Matthew 19. This world will always leave us thirsty for more. Instead we should be sustaining ourselves on the bread and water of God’s word. It is this living water that Jesus offers the Samaritan woman in John 4, and He offers it to us as well. It is that which can eternally sustain us. God’s word will fill our hearts and never leave us hungry or thirsty again.
A Healthy Water
Part of water’s sustaining nature is its healing influence on our lives. If you want to feel better, the first and simplest thing you can do is drink more water. Experiencing inexplicable aches and pains? Drink more water. Feeling lethargic and tired? Drink more water. Bouts with headaches and dizziness throughout your day? Drink more water. We don’t think about it because we’ve grown used to being dehydrated. We’re used to feeling a certain level of crummy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Simply staying hydrated will start to make you feel generally better.
The nourishment of God’s word does the same for us. Psalm 30:2 records the psalmist saying, “I cried to you, and you have healed me.” John 10:10 has Jesus saying that He has come to give life and give it abundantly. Think of all the miracles Jesus performed around healing, even calling Himself a physician on one occasion. All of these were to illustrate the power of God’s word to heal our souls. When I’m felling spiritually depleted, when I’m down on myself and others, when I feel the pains of this world are just too much — chances are its because I’ve been neglecting time in study and prayer. I’ve been seeking sustenance elsewhere when all I really need is to return to the sustaining water of God’s word.
Losing Taste for All Else
It can be tricky to start leaning on water as our primary source of refreshment and sustenance. Your tastebuds may be used to the various sensations less healthy and harmful options offer. I know mine were when I first made the effort to switch. The things of this world are so much more enticing, but, as the Hebrew writer puts it, they are but for a season. I have to be able to keep things in perspective. It takes self-discipline to wean ourselves off the sugary, caffeine-loaded refreshments of this world to turn to the pure waters of Christ.
The great thing is this: the longer we are focused on God’s word and doing what we find therein, the less this world will entice us. I simply don’t crave certain drinks anymore since I’ve been focusing more on water. Do I still have cravings at times? Sure, just like I still crave certain sins and wordily pursuits. I even give in at times, but they just don’t carry the allure they once did. The pleasures of the moment just don’t seem worth all of the negatives. In the case of drinks, they’re just not worth the shakiness, the upset stomach, the headaches, or whatever else may come from those sugary, caffeinated beverages. Even when I give in to a craving, I find myself longing for water again.
Sometimes, I get asked if water as my primary beverage is ever boring, and to be honest, at first it was. In fact, it was downright hard at first because I went through sugar and caffeine withdrawal. And you know what? I sure felt a life of godly living was boring and unnecessarily difficult at one time as well. I went through world-withdrawal. Paul describes this when he says that his spirit and his flesh war with each other in Galatians 5:17. Returning to Hebrews 12, that writer says we deal with those burdens by laying them aside, and that’s exactly what Paul says he did in Philippians 3:7 – 8 when he says he counted all as lost for Christ. We trade the sustenance of this word for waters from God and we count it as loss.
We have a perfect source of refreshment and sustenance available to us through our Father. Let’s continually turn to Him in study and prayer so that we may have perpetual seasons of refreshing from a well that will never dry up. Let’s lay aside the cravings of this world, even those that seem so immediate and fulfilling in the moment. Lay aside their temporary pleasures so that they can’t erode our spiritual health. Let’s instead fill ourselves with perfect nourishment from above, continually refreshing and being refreshed, sustained by the love and word of our Father, and losing all taste for the things of this world.
lesson by Robert Smelser