By Katy Epling
My dad recently had surgery that prevented him from being able to swallow for almost a week. Although he got all the nutrition he needed through an IV, his thirst remained unquenched—and voracious. Finally, five days post-op, he took a single sip to swallow a pill. The look of ecstasy on his face as he savored that fleeting taste of water was priceless.
Have you ever been that thirsty? Have you ever longed for something so fervently that the slightest hint, the smallest taste, was better than you imagined?
In the book of John, we join Jesus in a sacred meeting at a well with a Samaritan woman. Although Samaritans were hated by Jews in that day, Jesus deliberately sits and talks with her. He asks for a drink, and then offers her living water.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,” he tells her, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again” (John 4:13–14 ESV).
Although she misunderstands at first—thinking she would never need to return to the well and endure the work of hauling up water and carrying the heavy jugs—he explains that he is offering water for her soul. He knows all about her, about her five previous husbands and the man she currently lives with. Is it just me, or does she seem to be seeking to fill a void in her life? She is broken. She thirsts for more than water; she yearns for acceptance and love.
In that brief conversation with Jesus, the Samaritan woman’s parched soul got a sip of Jesus’s living water, and it was delicious. I can just imagine her thinking, Yes! This is it. All my life I have tried to quench my thirst with relationships and bad marriages, but this is what I was searching for! In fact, her excitement was too much to contain. She ran back to her village to tell everyone about this amazing man who had quenched her thirst forever.
I wonder if her joy would have been so overwhelming if she hadn’t been quite so thirsty, quite so broken. I look at my own life and see a pattern. When I have an abundance of wells to drink from, I forget how good the living water truly is. I have enough friends, enough family, enough work, enough stuff. They all keep me from thirsting too much, and sometimes I slide into living as though these substitutes taste as good as Jesus.
But then I remember the times I’ve been broken, my well dry, my soul parched. Infertility. Loneliness. Betrayal by a friend. Unhealthy relationships. An unexpected diagnosis. Those times I found myself in a desert, searching for a way to quench this thirst.
And Jesus was there, with his living water, as he always is. One sip, and I am in awe. Yes! This is it. This is what I was searching for! It seems that only in our brokenness can we truly appreciate how completely he meets our every need.
What well have you been drinking from, trying to quench the thirst of your soul? Maybe you’re in a good place and you have unconsciously let the wells of stuff or approval from others or work take the place of Jesus. Or maybe you are broken and desperate, with a thirst this world cannot touch. Come to Jesus, and “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8 ESV).
Katy Epling is a writer, speaker, and “masterpiece in progress” (Ephesians 2:10) from Akron, Ohio. She and her husband Jon have three beautiful children who provide her with multitudes of material—both dramatic and comedic. Learn more about her heart and ministry at katyepling.com.
Photograph © Ethan Sykes, used with permission