By: Preston Sigmon
Take a moment and look over the following statements…
My life would be so much better if only _________.
If I had ________, then I would be happy.
I will feel much less stressed and anxious when __________.
Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that something happened when you read these statements. My guess is that you didn’t just read any of those sentences as they were. Instead, I think that when you read each of those lines, you filled in the blank. If you didn’t fill in the blank, I would encourage you to look back at those statements again and think about how you would choose to complete them. Speaking for myself, as I wrote these statements and as I read over them again, my mind easily filled in those blank spaces with my responses.
Maybe you can relate to thoughts like, if I can just make it through school and find a good job, then I’ll be set for life, or all these people that I know are getting married, I hope I can find someone who will make me feel complete and happy and loved. Maybe you thought, if only I had a million dollars, or if I could just do what I loved for the rest of my life, or if I could just travel wherever I wanted, then I’d be happy, then my life would feel complete.
I think you might be able to see where I’m going with this. We’re all intelligent people and we’ve had enough life experience to know that those things that we chose to fill in the blanks with earlier; they don’t solve all of our problems. They don’t give us eternal happiness. But, that doesn’t stop us from chasing them. We still idolize celebrities, their fame, their talent, their money, their good looks, and we always seem surprised when we find out they are human and that all of the things that they have, that we want, were not enough to bring them peace and joy and satisfaction in life.
For the many of us who profess to follow Jesus, we know what the answer to our longings should be, but I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we genuinely felt that Jesus was the missing link to those earlier sentences. I don’t make this point so that we all know how to fill in the blank next time, but I do think that there is something very revealing about the fact that we choose to pursue fullness a thousand different ways before we look to Jesus.
Why do we do that?
I submit to you the idea that we don’t look to Jesus because we don’t know him. I might also suggest that we don’t know him because we don’t really seek him. So, how can we follow a God that we don’t know, and how can we get to know that God if we don’t pursue him? The good news, I believe, is that God knows and pursues us.
In chapter 4 of the gospel of John, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman when she comes to draw water from a well. This woman has no idea who Jesus is, but of course Jesus is fully aware of that as he says to her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Now, it turns out, as is most often the case with Jesus, the conversation going on here is not really about water at all. If you continue to read through John chapter 4, Jesus confronts this woman about the patterns in her life, exposing the fact that she’s gone through five different husbands and has now moved on to another guy, and it’s at this point that Jesus’s claim about being thirsty and having living water really starts to take shape. Like the woman at the well, we all have deep spiritual thirsts that we attempt to quench with things that leave us empty and thirsty again. I wonder how many of us have looked to relationships, or alcohol, or doing good churchy things for ultimate fulfillment. Whatever that longing is for you, Jesus promises that if we come to him and trust in him, then we will never thirst again. Do you believe that? If I’m honest with myself and my life, it’s clear that I struggle with that promise.
The woman at the well came to believe in Jesus as did many more Samaritans who heard her say of Jesus, “he told me everything I ever did”(John 4:39). Take comfort in the fact that God knows you. He knows everything you ever did, and he is prepared to give you living water if only you ask him for it.
If only it were really that easy, that’s what I’m thinking to myself right now, but here’s the thing, what would it hurt to ask? and conversely, what do we have to gain from walking away? I think those two questions are much more profound than they initially might appear, and I think you should take the time to answer those questions when you have the chance.
In the meantime, let’s confront ourselves with the person of Jesus. Read the accounts of his life and his ministry. We have them readily available in the new testament of the Bible. Absorb his teachings, listen to his stories. Take note when you’re confused and have questions and doubts and move towards that. Seek answers to your questions. Express your doubt to others. Contemplate his crucifixion. Think about it practically. Think about it symbolically. Contemplate his resurrection and do the same. I think that this is a just taste of what it looks like to seek Jesus, and I think the more we seek him, the more we will get to know him, and the more we get to know him, well…he might just become our fulfillment, our living water, and the person we turn to in order to make our lives complete.