Friday, October 19, 2012

A Blessing For Your Weekend: Water for the Thirsty

"And they did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ." I Corinthians 10:4"
Photo Credit: Mark Grace


What a curious set of images St. Paul offers to us in this verse of scripture- a rock that follows God's children and gives them water, water that is somehow alive with the forces of spiritual life.

When I was twenty-three years old and newly married, I worked as a day laborer for a time.  In the middle of June's blazing summer heat, I found myself working on the roof of the county courthouse in Hamilton, Texas. 

The courthouse was built in 1887 and though I am not sure how many times its flat surface had been tarred by the time we set to work on it, I vividly remember that the work of stripping those older layers was brutal.  The first three days on the job saw me vomiting up my breakfast before lunch arrived.

To make matters worse, one of the roof's layers consisted of pitch. Pitch can be made from petroleum or from plants, but it has some characteristics that are distinct from tar.

For one thing, as it dries it does so in more of a solid form than does tar, which tends to retain its flexibility.  With age, pitch becomes brittle.  

When we peeled the layer of pitch off of that roof, it produced a fine dust that settled in the pores of our skin and burned with an exquisite pain.  The heat of the sun roasted us and the resin dust from that pitch made it seem as though we were being broiled from the inside out.  

Photo Credit: David R. Tribble


I remember dragging myself home and laying a wash cloth on my face to ease the burning that persisted long after I had escaped the noon day heat.  My eyelids peeled as though they had been scorched by the sun, though I wore sunglasses.

When I read St. Paul's description of the living water that springs from the Rock, I think about what it felt like to to take a drink of cold water after working just a little while in the heat of that summer sun. At such moments, I could feel the water being absorbed into the dehydrated cells of my body.  

I learned to pay attention to my need for water before I endangered health by depriving myself of something I could not live without.

You may also have had that kind of experience at some time in your life, when thirst was more than just vague discomfort but had become an urgent physical need.  

Paul's curious imagery in I Corinthians 10:4 serves to remind us that the Rock from which we receive our spiritual life-or-death nourishment isn't like earth's natural springs.  This rock follows us wherever we go.  

Too many times we let ourselves get into spiritual danger because we do not tend to our spiritual needs, even though God has already made sure that we have what we need close at hand.

So the thing I wonder today is, what would it take for us to turn to the One who has been following us all along, and to regularly slake our thirst and to renew our lives with His living water?


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