On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
I remember visiting my poor old dad in hospital. He had just had a small internal operation. The operation had been a success but he had a sign attached to his bed reading ‘Nil by mouth’. After a day or so he was allowed a tiny container of water. It was made worse by the fact that this was all happening in high summer and the ward was sweltering. My poor old dad, I don’t think I have ever seen anyone as thirsty. Except today I see lots of spiritual thirstiness. We are just so flat, so grey, so ok, so emptily human. We need the water of life, the spiritual water of light and eternity flowing in us. The inner life-transforming and soul-filling water of life is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God – the very inner essence of God poured out on his people.
Without this Holy Spirit then I, Robin Gamble, am just an ordinary person trying to be a Christian or follower of Jesus, and doing it all in my own strength. If on the other hand I can somehow receive, be filled by a drink of God’s Holy Spirit then I am no longer an ordinary person doing it in my own human way. Suddenly I am human plus spiritual, Robin Gamble plus Holy Spirit following Jesus by using his strength and resources as well as my own.
I need the empowering, the refreshment and the reward of the Holy Spirit and I need it in three areas of my life.
Firstly, I need it to help me help my family. I have a wife that needs to be loved, even when I don’t feel like loving her. I have a son who needs to be listened to and befriended, even when I don’t feel like befriending him. I have a daughter with extra needs. She needs me to forget about myself and care for her, even when I don’t feel like caring for her.
Secondly, I need the Holy Spirit to give me power in my life’s mission. For me helping other people to find Jesus is my way of following him but I can’t do this in my own strength.
Lastly, though maybe it should be firstly, I need the Spirit so that I can be me. My human spirit or nature is basically insecure, negative, full of doubt and even self-pity. Left to my own resources I am a rather depressive personality and it is getting harder the older I get. I need the Holy Spirit to pump up my balloon, to pour the water of life into my grey and dusty mouth, to make flowers grow in the desert regions of my soul.
This coming gift of the Spirit was so important that Jesus ‘stood and said in a loud voice’. He was inspired, urgent, emphatic, he really wanted everyone to get it. All this and more I need. Not as a one-off mega conversion experience. I don’t need a great big holy flood and then gradual drying out. I need a tap. Not a rusty old neglected tap, but one that I can turn on every day. Why? Because every day is precious, and I need to be watered, filled, renewed at the beginning of every one.
I live in a desert.
Help me every day,
To be still,
To be thirsty,
To be open,
Open to receive,
Open to drink.