“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:37-39 NIV
In my scripture notes, my bible tells me that when Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him,” he is referencing Isaiah 58:11 which says, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” So Jesus is teaching us that this is what the Holy Spirit is like.
As I think through this metaphor, the sun-scorched land is the world that we live in. Full of self centeredness, violence, greed, lust, and every kind of evil. It doesn’t take very much time in this barren environment before we are left feeling hollow, depressed, hopeless, weak…..thirsty. But Isaiah, and later Jesus in today’s passage, are promising here that when the Holy Spirit comes, we have access to the solution…the water.
So what does this actually mean? One thing that I really struggle with is self esteem. I find myself constantly comparing myself to others, and listening to all the lies that the devil would have me believe… I’m not skinny enough, I’m not a good enough sales person, I’m not very likeable, I talk too much, I annoy my husband and maybe he’s going to stop loving me, people aren’t going to like me, etc. Indulging these ideas makes me behave horribly at times. And this makes me look like the world. And this makes me feel very hollow…thirsty.
When I am in this place, and it finally occurs to me that I am thirsty, I go to the father in prayer or worship or in the word…it CAN feel like streams of living water are flowing from within me. I am immediately struck by what the true reality is. That I am loved. Forgiven. Worth dying for. I have value. And when I drink then “my frame is strengthened.” With this confidence I am able to go back into the world, and act differently. I can forgive. I can be bold. I can love. When a coworker disrespects me, I don’t have to make it about me, and therefore respond in kind. I know that I am forgiven, so it gives me the ability and desire (strength) to forgive him. When my husband is preoccupied, I don’t have to assume that he doesn’t love me anymore. I know that I am loved by the Father, so I have something to pour into him. When my partner at work wins an award, I don’t have to be jealous…I know that I have value because I belong to God, so I can celebrate with him. Make sense?
Lord, help me to always run to you when I got lost in the world. Thank you for your Holy Spirit and all of the comfort He brings. I love you!