Stay Hydrated by Larry W. Peebles

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Stay Hydrated   Larry W. Peebles   10/07/16     16.38

I cannot recall ever being so thirsty.  We had nothing to drink all day.  My college buddy and I had set out on a float trip down an area river.  Early in the morning we dropped a car at a highway bridge where we planned to exit the river, then drove back to where we would put the boat in the river at another bridge, upstream from our exit point. It was just breaking daylight when we put in, and our estimate was three to four hours to the exit point.  We had made a few similar float trips, and were comfortable with the plan.  It was a crisp day in late fall.  We packed no snacks or water.  There was no need, as we would be home by noon.

We drifted along the river, enjoying the growing daylight in such a peaceful setting.  Birds and squirrels awoke and chattered to us as we floated beneath the canopy of trees that came from both sides of the river and touched overhead.  It was a beautiful morning.  We were floating on a lazy river, wrapped in near silence.  We spoke little, and let the river do the work.  We did not want to spoil the setting with talk.

Our study of the river and the roads gave us some landmarks we would pass, mostly other bridges where farm roads crossed the river.  The first such landmark we expected to cross in an hour, but did not find it until two hours had passed.  We were a bit surprised but not unnerved, and began to talk about how crooked the river was.  One moment the sun would be on our left, and around the next bend it would be on our right, and then back on our left.  There were fallen trees and limbs to navigate, which slowed our progress.  We began to row a bit to supplement our drift speed.  This did not diminish our enjoyment of the day, as we took turns rowing.  When not rowing, one could still soak in the trees, the river, and the warmth of the mid-day sun.

It was noon when we passed under the landmark bridge we estimated marked the halfway point of our journey.  We were getting hungry and thirsty, but now realized we were in trouble.  We had a long way to go and had no supplies.  Our landmark bridges served seldom used farm roads in rural areas.  We felt we could not get anyone’s attention, so we pushed on.  Now we would both row, as we had to cover some distance on the river.

That entire afternoon we rowed without ceasing.  Shoulders, arms and back muscles ached.  Though hungry and thirsty, we had only adrenaline for fuel.  By late afternoon, nearing sundown, we reached another landmark that told us we might be three- fourths of the way through our expedition.  Given the conditions, we could not navigate the river in the dark.  As the sun began to drop and low light fell on the river, it felt noticeably colder.  The lack of body fuel meant we had more sensitivity to the dropping temperatures.  I was so thirsty my mouth seemed as though it was full of cotton balls.  The urgency to drink had surpassed the need to eat, which was only a small blessing.  The irony was that though we spent the entire day on the river, we had no water to drink.  We pulled the boat to the bank of the river at that last landmark to regroup.

My friend decided to crawl up the river bank and go look for help. We needed someone to rescue us out of the situation we had gotten ourselves into.  He had no flashlight to show him the way.  I would stay with the boat, where dark and cold were setting in, and the sounds of the river had changed to the hooting of owls and coyotes calling.  Warm sunlight was replaced with cool evening light from the stars.  Without the rowing motion for exercise, and without food and water for fuel, I became quite chilled.  I eventually caught pneumonia, which stayed with me through the next spring while I tried to run through the college track season.

Fortunately, in the dark my friend saw the light from a farmhouse and walked to it for help.  The kind farmer returned in his pick-up truck, we all loaded the boat, and he took us to our waiting car.  He saved us from the situation we had created.  By the time we went back and picked up the first car and returned to town, it was well into the evening.  This was before the age of cell phones so families and friends were extremely worried about us, including the young woman who would be my future wife.  She was quite frantic, and our date plans for the evening were ruined.

I learned a great deal that day about better planning, respect for the unfamiliar in the outdoors, helping others in need, and being prepared with a contingency plan if the original plan goes wrong.  I also remember getting back home and needing a lot of water that evening before I could even think about eating something.

That young woman who became my wife 47 years ago still walks in the woods with me twice a week in the forests that surround our mountain home.  We never walk without taking bottles of water.  Years ago, when I ran my first marathon, another friend told me I would find water stations at each of the 26 mile markers.  His advice was to not pass a single one.   I listened.  Sixty percent of the human body is water, and about 70% of the surface of the earth is water.  Such is the vital importance of water.  If one does not stay hydrated, they die.

Things in the natural realm confirm things in the spirit realm, and vice-versa.  This certainly holds true for water.  In John 4:4-42, we find the story of the woman at the well.  Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Galilee.  One day at noon, they stopped in a village in Samaria at a well originally dug by Jacob.  Jesus sent the disciples to buy food, and sat down.  A woman came to the well, and Jesus asked her to draw him water to drink.  She was surprised that a Jew would ask a Samaritan for water, but Jesus surprised her by saying (v. 10) “if you knew who it was that asked you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”  He went on to say (v. 13, 14) “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  He went on to tell the woman her life story, which no mere man could have known.  She recognized that He was from God, but in deeper conversation Jesus disclosed that He was not just from God.  Indeed, He was (is) the Messiah, the one spoken of by the prophets who would come to save the world (v. 42).

Jesus introduced something to her called living water.  As water gives life to our mortal bodies, this living water gives life to our spiritual being.  Natural water satisfies our natural thirst for a time, but we become thirsty again.  Living water satisfies our spiritual thirst for all eternity.  We will never thirst again.  What is this living water?

Jesus explained a few chapters later.  In John 7: 37-39, Jesus said – “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.”  John goes on to say “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 been glorified [crucified, resurrected and ascended into Heaven}.”  [Insert mine].  At the time He said this, Jesus was pointing toward the day of Pentecost, when the believers were filled with the Holy Spirit.  At Pentecost, a violent wind from Heaven filled the room, tongues of fire appeared above each person’s head, and they began to speak in other (heavenly) languages.

God is a Spirit.   Man in his natural body and surroundings, created in God’s image, has an insatiable longing for the spirit realm.  Every civilization known to have existed has demonstrated a respect or relationship toward the “gods”.  Absent knowledge of the One True God, this longing has manifested in distortions and perversions of the true worship we were created for—the worship of God.  These manifestations include studying and reading the stars (horoscope), witchcraft, ancestor worship, animal worship, nature worship, devil worship, and others.   These distortions are a form of false religion, and none of them satisfy.  Like the water in that river, though it may surround us, it is not suitable for drinking.

Like the woman at the well, when we come to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world and our own personal Savior, we can be filled with living water. Jesus comes to rescue us and lift us out of the water that does not satisfy and is not suitable to drink–the mess of sin we created for ourselves.   The sweet wind of the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us.  We receive the fire which purifies and cleanses our heart and gives us an unquenchable zeal for God.  We also receive a new and powerful heavenly language with which to pray effective prayers in accordance with the will of God.

When we experience this impartation of the Holy Spirit, we are “born again”, not as a human being, but as a spirit being.  Our eternal spirit man is restored to its proper relationship with God, and our spiritual longing is satisfied.  We are back home and our spiritual thirst is eternally satisfied by the true living water.  Without this living water, our spirit man will die.  Confess Jesus as savior, receive His Holy Spirit, and stay hydrated for all eternity.  This will assure our spirit man within will never thirst again.

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