“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14
To never thirst again. Wow.
It reminds me of one of my favorite talks by Doug Jacoby. He said having the Spirit is like the burning bush that Moses encountered. It never burned up. Doug was saying that when we truly rely on the Spirit, we don’t get depleted. That really stuck in my mind, because, like the woman at the well, I want that.
And I’m still figuring out how to rely on the Spirit and not get depleted. But I just started reading a book, “Forming: A Work of Grace,” by David Takle, and I think it’s getting me closer.
The jist of the book is that we too often make being a Christian about doing the right things by our own power, and this can burn us out. Instead, Takle says that we need to learn to empowered by God. To him, it’s like the difference between rowing a boat and sailing a boat. “Instead of trying to act righteous by sheer effort, God wants us to learn how to receive from him what we need in order to transform our heart, so that we can live more like Christ by our very nature.”
This is what I really need, to be more like Christ in my very nature, so I’m doing things out of the overflow of my heart, and not because I think I’m supposed to. When I row the boat of Christian living all day, it can be satisfying in the short term, because I’m accomplishing things. But after awhile, it also seems empty, like something is missing. I feel down and strangely lacking.
How much a difference would it make if I started my day by filling my sails, instead of taking up the oars!
How can we receive more from God/the Spirit to fill up our sails? Here are a few ways. The ones that became available to us after Christ’s coming and the indwelling of the Spirit are listed in bold type.
- Be thankful always. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Ps. 107:1
- Sing. “Be filled by the Spirit. . . Sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord.” Eph 5:18-19
- Be still. “He says, ‘Be still, and KNOW that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'” Ps. 46:10
- Be in nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Ps 19:1
- Walk in the Spirit. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit.” Gal 5:15
- Practice being in his presence. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
- Praise him. “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” Ps 103:2
- Pray with an open heart. “In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Ps. 5:3
- Ask for guidance. “Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Ps 143:8 “The Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to that chariot and stay by it.’” Acts 8:29
- Ask to be taught. “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness.” Ps 86:11 “However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” John 16:12
- Ask for strength. “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.” II Tim 4:17 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13
- Ask to understand God’s love. “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is . . that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Eph 3:18-19
- Seek. “Seek and you will find.” Matt. 7:7
- Pray for God’s will to be done. “Not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
- Meditate. “On His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water.” Ps 1:2-3
Man, these are wonderful! I keep coming up with more. Maybe you have some you would add to the list.
Studying this has really helped me lately. On Friday, my friend and I went for coffee, and we shared with the barrista before we left. What I loved about this interaction was that this time I didn’t just invite someone to church, and feel like I’d done my duty. I also told them how much I want them to know the inspiration that comes from being close to God. Not only do I want to have the right heart, I deeply desire to help others to find it. And now I’m finding ways to do this.
Then, a couple of days later, I started experiencing one of my tangles of emotional thinking. Usually I would be good and stuck, but this time, I practiced being in the presence of God and receiving from him. As I did so, my problems receded from my mind. I felt like the increased exposure to God really did change me.
I am so thankful to be getting a better understanding of how to be filled, rather than depleted.
I’m so thankful that Jesus brought the water, so that we can not just do the right thing, but have the heart to do the right thing.
And now, may this water spring up and overflow into the lives of others.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ez 36:26