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)
Summer is just upon us, bringing a welcome change of pace and season for most people. What activities are you looking forward to this summer? Barefoot beach volleyball in the hot sand under the blazing sun… A 5K road race… Lying in the afternoon sun next to the pool… A day-long hike up a mountain.. A 25 mile bike ride in August… Sports camp… Mowing the lawn on a sticky July day…? I don’t know about you, but I’m getting thirsty just thinking about all that physical activity under the summer sun! Summer is a time when we truly appreciate liquid refreshment, whether it’s a quick drink from the hose while working in the yard, a cup of cool water gulped down and splashed over the head during a sports event, a pitcher of lemonade enjoyed on the patio, or a tall glass of iced tea after a day at work.
But if summer teaches us to appreciate the joy of cool liquid on a parched throat, it also teaches us that not all drinks are created equal when it comes to quenching thirst. If you’ve ever chugged a soda after a workout, you know that it provides temporary refreshment, but will likely leave you thirstier than ever before an hour passes.
The thirst summertime brings can give us a greater appreciation of the conversation Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. The Middle Eastern climate is often sun-beaten, dry, and dusty; even going to the well to draw water must have been a chore that generated more thirst. It’s easy to see why Jesus’ offer of a water to end all thirst sounded pretty good to the Samaritan woman. She requested, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water” (John 4:15). She was asking for water to meet a physical need, but Jesus answered her request by offering so much more: the water of eternal life, meeting her deepest need of forgiveness and salvation.
He offers this eternal water to each of us. In baptism, our deepest spiritual thirst is forever quenched in the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13). Certainly, because we await the second coming in a sinful world that is often spiritually desert-like, our souls will know times of yearning, of thirsting. But instead of trying to slake this thirst with material possessions and pursuits, which can provide only temporary satisfaction (the spiritual equivalent of chugging that soft drink after a workout), we must remember to return daily to the waters of our baptism, to the water that quenches absolutely. As Luther wrote regarding baptism in the Large Catechism, “Now, here in baptism there is brought, free of charge, to every person’s door just such a treasure and medicine that swallows up death and keeps all people alive. Thus, we must regard baptism and put it to use in such a way that we may draw strength and comfort from it when our sins or conscience oppress us, and say: ‘But I am baptized! And if I have been baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.'”
When your soul feels parched, return to the waters of your baptism, reminding yourself, “But I am baptized!” You will find there the spring that never goes dry, the life-giving source that flows freely and not only quenches you, but fills you to overflowing.