I’ve had this question for a long time. It comes from John 5 where Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at a well:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
I’m with this girl. Sir, give me this water.
Never thirst? But then how am I to hunger and thirst for righteousness while never thirsting? And thought I do drink from Christ, though I hear his Word, I become thirsty over time. How does this work?
I don’t get it. Haven’t for a long time. Still don’t quite. But from John Piper’s thoughts below the Lord provided a little clarity.
If you are a veteran Christian, you know this from experience. If you are newer in the faith, this is one of the most important things you need to know. Discovering the secret of not losing heart is not an experience that lasts a lifetime. It’s the discovery of a fountain of life, not one drink so that you never have to drink again. The secret is that you never have to look anywhere else for life and hope and strength and joy…God saves us through a thousand battles, a thousand renewals, so that we never, never forget that we are weak and he is our strength. He is our strength, our living water, our food, our gas, our medicine.
(John Piper, The Glory of God in the Sight of Eternity)
Jesus doesn’t give us a n elixir of eternal satisfaction in one cup. He is to us a fountain that’s always accessible—no matter the time or season. And this fount never runs dry. Jesus answered our thirst with a never-ending source of provision. He hasn’t just taken the thirst away.
And maybe if the thirst were taken away, our delight would cease too. Maybe part of the joy, as Piper says in his book When I Don’t Desire God, is the expectation that comes with the daily hike to that fountain—we have the same wonder every time that the fountain has not run out and the gate is still open. Every. Every. Every time.
And the longer we stay away, the more thirsty we will become. Water isn’t something we can live without for very long. And it sure takes a toll if we don’t constantly take it in.
Maybe that’s why God created water. He needed to show us how dearly we need him to fill us, whether we feel especially thirsty or not.
He says in my favorite chapter of Isaiah:
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
(Isaiah 55:1-3, ESV)
“Coming to the waters” includes “listen to me, give ear, come.” While the woman of Samaria heard Jesus speaking to her on that hot day by the well, while she asked him to give her of the water that is without price, by his very conversation, Jesus was filling her soul with living water.
That day as she listened, he gave her drink. And that was the first day she lived.
We all need water every day. So we need Jesus. And the way we know Jesus better is by hearing him speak and speaking to him.
So, we’ve got to “go to the spring”—open up the Bible, and expect to be splashed in the face when we turn the pages 🙂