I’m a runner … well, I used to be. I’m not sure how long after your last race you are allowed to call yourself a runner. For me it’s been … awhile. So I’m a former runner. But some habits die hard. The clearest example for me is my water bottle. When you are running, hydration is important, it’s vital. So I would carry a water bottle everywhere and I would drink liters everyday. I needed to because I had had the experience of stepping out for a training run or even a race and not being hydrated. It becomes apparent immediately that your body is just not willing to do what it usually does when it doesn’t have the water you need. Your mouth is dry, your breathing labours, legs cramp. Your whole body is desperate for water. So you give it what it needs. If you are running regularly, your drink water.
But when you stop running? Well, water is more of an accessory. I still bring my bottle with me everywhere I go. I have one at the office and two at home (I tend to misplace them, so I need a back-up). But they are always full. Every night I fill up my water bottle with fresh cold water … and every morning I sip that water, warm from sitting (untouched) all night. It’s there, it’s at an arms length, but it is rarely consumed. Why? The desperation simply isn’t there.
Now, in the Bible, a thirst for water is often a picture of a thirst for God. And you know what, we often approach Him like I do my water bottle. We know He is there. His word is close to us. We (at least cognitively) know His Spirit is inside of us. But we don’t drink. Why? Because we aren’t desperate. We aren’t thirsty.
This became apparent to me recently. I had a desperate week. A whole bunch of unrelated things all came together and everywhere I turned I was faced with a workout. Not crises, not even all negative things, but in each circumstance was something I needed to think through carefully. And as I strained to run the race well through these circumstances, I was parched. I was desperate. And I cried out to God, “I need you, lead me, I trust you.” My thirst led my to run to the water. Now, maybe it shouldn’t be like that. Even if we aren’t active, we should stay hydrated. Even if we aren’t stretched, we should pray without ceasing. But the reality is, the thirstier we are, the more water we drink. The more we feel a need for God to direct us, the more we go to Him.
We have a stated desire as a church to reach out to our community. One of the biggest concerns we heard as we spoke about this was a fear that in reaching out, we would neglect those already in. But here is the thing. When we reach out, when we put ourselves in these uncomfortable situations, we realize our thirst. We get more desperate for God.
My great desire for our church is that we live life-on-life, life-in-community and life-on-mission. Life-on-life means that we share our lives together. That we share our thoughts, our doubts, our fears, our successes – all of our lives – with others. We invite another person in to who we are and those parts of our lives that we normally exclude people from – they see us parent, they see us rejoice, they see us struggle and they see us argue with our spouse. Life-in-community means that we invite others into our daily rhythm. We make others family and take an interest in all that they are. And life-on-mission means that we think how our regular rhythms can be used to connect with others and demonstrate and declare the gospel to them.
But here is the thing; all of this is like Spiritually working out. When we live life-on-life we are confronted with sin in our lives and in the lives of others that we need to confront. If living life-in-community means living like family, we quickly realize that families fight. And being on mission constantly puts us in situations that we don’t know what to do. Like now, close friends of ours are opening up about Spiritual things and we don’t know how to best lead them – particularly because they are moving in two months. Living like this makes us thirsty. It makes us desperate. And that is a good thing.
Because the more we thirst, the more we drink.