• Rick Chaffee

Thirsty for Something that Satisfies

My family in Maine sent me a copy of a notice posted by Coca-Cola Beverages Northeast. It read:

“We’ve received several messages over the last few days from concerned Moxie fans, and we wanted to reassure everyone that we’re absolutely still making Moxie. Unfortunately, we’re working through various challenges related to the pandemic, and that has forced us to limit production of some of our beverages, Moxie is one of those items. As business conditions improve, we look forward to bringing production back to normal so you can enjoy Maine’s official state beverage.”

Thankfully I had a case on hand. Who knew this virus would attack such a vital lifeline.

Of course I jest. I am heartened by the milk giveaways that have occurred here in Central New York on a pretty regular basis and am saddened that they are so needed. I thought of all of this as I read this morning from Isaiah. “Come, all 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 your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:1-2).

Jesus said similar things to the Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s well. He said, “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” (John 4:13-14). And again at the liturgical act of pouring out water on the last day of the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles we read, “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If a man 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 7:37-38).

It is easy to speak of our thirst being quenched when we have an abundance of water and other provisions to meet our physical needs. It is quite another when we must sit in milk and bread lines in order to have enough food to meet our family’s hunger. And the same is true of the spiritual thirst that the Scripture is speaking of in these three passages. When things are going well and we are in good health and have all things sufficiently supplied we don’t think about our thirst. But when our health is taken by illness or injury, when our friends and family are lost by relocation, alienation or death, when we feel isolated and alone, unable to even touch one another then the Bible’s words about thirst seem very real, although we often doubt about the promised supply.

Years ago when I was in college I discovered a little book entitled Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Hudson Taylor was a missionary doctor who founded the China Inland Mission in the mid 1800’s. He lived through a host of losses from isolation and disease to persecution and family separation. His children were sent back to England to go to school. His wife died as did more than one child. Everything was difficult beyond the normal. Yet his secret was that God promised to satisfy his thirst. When he experienced illness with its long and wakeful nights he wrote, “How lonesome were the weary hours when confined to my room! How I missed my dear wife and the voices of the children far away in England! Then it was…as I felt the heart-thirst coming back, I cried to Him, ‘Lord, you promised! You promised me that I should never thirst.’”

And that is what we have available to us as well. But are we “spending our money on what is not bread, and does not satisfy?” Are we drinking from the wrong well and are so often “thirsty again?” Are we coming to Jesus for “living water that will flow from within us,” or are we discovering that some impersonal and ritual holy water only leaves us parched and dry? The Spirit says, “Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17). He satisfies even on the hottest and most unpleasant days of body and soul. See you in Worship.

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