I grew up hearing about the dangers of dehydration, but I figured it only affects people who don’t know better or aren’t in good physical condition. Then it happened to me. For high school graduation I took my twin sons to the Grand Canyon, where we hiked to the bottom of the canyon and camped out. It was one of the greatest memories of fatherhood to be with my boys, especially splashing around in the cold waters at the bottom of the canyon after our long trek down. After dinner, we turned in for some rest. Miserable from temperatures in the 100’s, we woke up at 4 a.m. and decided to get an early start hiking back up. We were advised to plan on 6 hours—uphill of course. After a good breakfast, we took off, with plenty of water.
The first two hours, we made great time; however, I began to have trouble keeping up with my 18 year old, athletic sons. I silently dug in, exerting all the energy I could muster. When we reached a rest area I felt completely depleted. I had been drinking huge amounts of water, but realized I had not added the electrolyte packets we had been given. I made a decision to send my sons ahead without me. If we stayed together I would be tempted to go faster than I should. I convinced them that this would be safest plan for all of us, but even at a much slower pace I could barely keep going. For the first time in my life, I thought, “So this is what dehydration feels like.” I eventually made it out of the canyon, but it took me close to 9 hours and gave me a new respect for appropriate hydration!
That was ten years ago, but I’ve never forgotten how awful physical dehydration feels. There have been times in my life and in the marketplace when I have felt that way emotionally, if not physically. King David wrote, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) That has often been a spot-on description of my inner life or work. When I find myself in that position, I sometimes come to recognize that I have become spiritually dehydrated. I forgot the electrolytes—not the packet of minerals that carry an electric charge that keeps my body in balance, but the power or dynamo that comes from connecting with Jesus Christ.
Jesus invites us to come: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38) Without continually coming to Christ for refreshment, our souls easily dry up and we may not realize it until we are really struggling or in a crisis. You may think you are doing the right thing (I was drinking water) when you are actually just putting your head down and fighting to keep pace in your own strength. Consider how much care we take to recharge our phones and other devices, yet many neglect refueling spiritually for what the day will bring.
Here are a few things I’ve been learning:
1. We are all in danger of spiritual dehydration. No one is immune. Everyone needs to consistently drink from God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s life and strength.
2. Be careful not to confuse religious activity with spiritual refreshment. Learning to get still and meditate on God’s wisdom, love and salvation and to talk to Jesus about life is the way to receive nourishment to keep going. It is more about receiving than doing. You have to know when to rest and take a drink! Try this site as a beginning point . . . http://redeemercitytocity.com/blog/view.jsp?Blog_param=198
3. Connect with other believers for spiritual support. The day I got dehydrated I mistakenly thought my years of athletics trumped the recommendation to add the electrolyte powder to my drinking water. Pride and isolation rob us of accountability and support and make us more vulnerable to spiritual weakness. Paul the apostle often wrote about the refreshment he gained in the company of other followers of Christ. (see Romans 15:31-33; 1 Corinthians 16: 17-18; Philemon 1:6-8).
The marketplace is constantly dividing your attention and makes it is easy to neglect your soul. Stop for a few more moments and take a drink of living water that will carry you uphill and beyond.
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, I know what it feels like to have my soul dry up from neglect of the most essential thing necessary for survival—You. Thankfully, You are patient and merciful. Like a physician, You have nursed me back to health through the ointment of Your Good News. Lord, alert me to the needs of my soul today. Make me aware of my spiritual thirst and the free offer of Your Living Water!
“Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst–not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
John 4:14 (The Message)