Still waters for the soul

shepherd-835143_960_720“He leads me beside still waters…” Psalm 23:2

On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out: “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” (John 7:37-38 HCSB)

As a child growing up in the hot Middle East, I remember the intense thirst that we children experienced after a round of games on a hot summer day. We would run home to drink cool glasses of water; which we drank greedily, panting and out of breath.

All of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced a deep inner emptiness or restlessness, which is a actually a symptom of the soul’s craving for God Himself. As physical thirst signals our need for water, spiritual thirst is the soul’s cry for salvation.

“Some wandered in desert wastes… hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress… For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:4-9 ESV

Yet, too many people stifle this inner thirst, filling their lives with things that do not satisfy – work, entertainment or relationships. Such things may not be bad in themselves, but they are insufficient to fill the depths thirsty for God. People are most acutely aware of the inner spiritual need during their adolescence and early adulthood. By their mid-thirties many people who have never responded to Christ’s call are no longer aware of any spiritual thirst unless a crisis reawakens it.

Jesus alone satisfies our thirst. Remember His words to the Samaritan woman, who fearing ostracism for her promiscuous lifestyle, visited the communal well during the hot noon hour before the other women arrived: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. (John 4:13-14 ESV)

When we come to Jesus, and experience the new birth, the indwelling presence of God becomes like living waters within our inner man. Our born again spirits, like our physical bodies, still need renewal and refreshment. To have our thirst assuaged, we needn’t go very far, for the Fountain of Life dwells within our spirits; and we only need to quieten ourselves and wait on Christ, for a fresh draught of His still waters.

As we regularly set aside time for daily devotions or the Quiet Time for prayer and meditation, then we will blossom and bear much fruit. Others will be drawn to the Christ within us, for the waters will overflow to satisfy their thirsty souls. 

“The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean” (John 13:10 ESV). Water, not only quenches thirst, it is also necessary for washing. Our feet grow dirty as we engage each day with a godless world, so it is important to return to Jesus for a thorough cleansing and inward revival. His word, His blood and the Spirit have a purifying and revitalising effect on the soul. 

Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

Most ancient civilisations – the Egyptian, Mesopotamian or the Babylonian – flourished near rivers, and it is generally agreed that communities dwelling near abundant sources of water were typically more advanced than nomadic desert tribes. Christian growth and flourishing depend on our closeness to the Fountain of Life. If we live distant from Christ, rarely praying or meditating on His word, our spiritual lives will shrivel and dry up. An emaciated Christian life is often a burden to ourselves and bad testimony to the unsaved. A  healthful Christian life is achieved by having regular, dedicated times of prayer and fellowship with the Shepherd. Staying close to Him, we will grow up into sturdy oaks of righteousness bearing much fruit; we “will do well in all our undertakings” (Psalm 1:3 BBE). This means that just as our soul prospers, our work, our relationships and everything we set our hands to do will be blessed.

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3 ESV)

Father, thank You for Jesus, and the living water for our souls. Fill us with the wisdom to come to our Shepherd frequently and drink deeply from the springs of life. Let us have these rivers within which overflow and refresh other souls. In Jesus’ name.

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