What Bottled Water Has Shown Me About Myself
Lately I’ve been spending some late nights at the church in preparation for Easter last weekend. With rehearsals and time-sensitive deadlines, late nights are inevitable. In order to make that time meaningful for my kids, I alternate between the girls and the boys, allowing them “Journey time” with Dad. I remember growing up as a PK (pastor’s kid) and spending time with my dad after church and how special that time was. So now I try to include my own kids as much as possible, and the memories (and messes) they’re making are numerous to be sure.
During these impromptu “dates with Dad”, I’ve been noticing an interesting thing take place. Almost without exception, one of them will ask for a bottle of water. They know where the secret stash is kept behind the stage, and they know that if they’re lucky, they can persuade Dad to allow them a full bottle of their own. At times I feel like the unjust judge in Jesus’ parable of the persistent widow when the widow kept bugging the judge day after day for justice against her enemy, and finally, the judge gave in because he was so incredibly annoyed by her consistent pestering. So, time and time again I give in and allow them a 20 ounce bottle of water all to their own…mostly because I’m tired of hearing about it…or I’m just a softy…or both. 🙂
But here’s the interesting thing about how this scenario plays out every single time: Though they clamor, bicker, persist and ultimately persuade me to allow them a bottle of water, once they have the bottle in their possession, it rarely gets consumed. In fact, it barely gets opened. Countless times I’ve discovered entirely full bottles of water in the back of my vehicle. With barely a sip taken out of it, I’ll have to discard the full bottle because it sat festering in the hot sun for too many days to count.
In thinking about this all-too-common scenario recently, something occurred to me that I think relates to the condition of my soul. In fact, as ridiculous as it sounds, you might say that the Holy Spirit used my kids and their bottled water fetich to teach me a lesson. See, I think that what happens is that my children love the prospect or the anticipation of bottled water more than they actually love bottled water. They see it sparkling and shining and beckoning to them from the secret backstage area, and they think they want it more than they really do. They like how it feels in their hands. They like knowing that it now belongs to them. But once they get in the car and we head home, one of those mysteries of the universe takes place. No one can be sure what goes on in their little minds. My hunch is that an epic battle for their affection ensues within the hollow caverns of their minds. They remember the delicious treats waiting for them at home. Visions of sugarplums dance in their heads. They become raptured in the thought of flavored drinks in the refrigerator, or the latest candy stash packaged with love from their Meme in Virginia. And suddenly the bottle of water no longer matters. It no longer satisfies. It no longer has the same appeal that it once had. New things have captured their attention. New things have garnered their affection.
I wonder how often Jesus, when examining my heart, sees this same scenario play out. Although this time it’s not bottled water that is being left in a hot vehicle, it’s Him–the Living Water. Because if I’m honest, and if you’re honest, don’t we often love the idea of Jesus more than we actually love Jesus?
If we’re honest, don’t we often love the idea of Jesus more than we actually love Jesus?
From a distance He seems captivating. From a distance, He seems sparkly and shiny and intriguing and fascinating. But while I may believe I want Him more than I want anything else, as soon as something more intriguing, more enticing, more immediately gratifying comes along, I run to it, leaving the water in the car. The reality is, I’m not as thirsty for Jesus as I think I am. I’m not as desperate for Him as I think I am.
Now imagine how differently my children might feel about that simple bottle of water if they were forced to sit there in a hot vehicle for a little while. As the temperature rises, their fists unconsciously grip the bottle a little tighter. And then, perhaps without warning, instinct kicks in. They begin chugging that water like their life depends on it. They approach the same bottle of water with a fresh perspective, with an attitude of desperation.
It’s that attitude of desperation that makes all the difference. Maybe you need to take a moment right now like I just did to ask God to place that desperation back in your heart. Maybe it was there at one time, but the shiny things of the world have usurped His rightful place in your heart.
Lord, make me desperate for You. Place a longing in my heart that nothing in the world can satisfy, save You alone!