Once upon a time in my apartment, I sat down to write some fictional drivel. After using the adjective, “wispy,” for the third time, I got bored and put down my laptop, deciding to go back to my roots of pen and paper. I searched through my shelf-and-a-half of journals for an empty one, finally grabbing one at random, hoping to find an empty page.
The journal fell open to an entry from 2007: “Last night I had one of the most intense and spiritual dreams of my life that made my daily reality fall into the correct perspective of fleeting and my eternal reality come to the forefront. I saw clearer in my sleep than in most of my waking hours.”
Silence. Here I was, ready to jot down some truly amazing, creative, compelling, best-selling fiction, and I was confronted with this.
A swell of intense emotion rose up inside me. Anger. I was angry with Stephanie from 2007. She had it so easy. Why wasn’t my current daily life as vibrant with eternal reality? Life was so complicated now.
I spent the next hour in prayer, talking to God in absolute transparency about areas of conviction, fear, and hopelessness, weaving a complex web of theories about the core of my issues and the equally long map toward freedom and wholeness.
While I knew the Spirit was present, I said, “Amen,” feeling icky as I brushed my teeth and fell into bed, as if I’d left a coffee date with a friend knowing something was unsaid or a false light was cast on a particular issue. Something was off.
Morning came and I glanced through my curated list of deficiencies with prescribed pathways to success and hit the road, again feeling icky. I took a long swig of my coffee.
Woah, I’m really thirsty.
Another swig of coffee.
Bleck, I need good old fashioned water. There’s water in coffee; why isn’t this helping?
Suddenly, the foggy, unarticulated ickyness lifted. I was over-complicating something that was very simple. I was so smart I was stupid. I needed water.
My premise that life was complicated led me to believe the solution was equally complex. After all, I am much more mature than I was in 2007, right? If I was thirsty, water seemed far too simple for a woman as advanced as me. Olympic athletes drink a complex cocktail of electrolytes, minerals, vitamins and probably some other enhancements (Lance Armstrong, cough cough). Surely my spiritual thirst required the same. Right?
My deep thirst was from a lack of the basic, essential water of truth. Instead of prescribing myself with coffee or Gatorade or that nasty, rancid, mushroom tea (is it called kam-boom-boom-pow?), I needed to LOSE the additives of rhetoric and complex knowledge in favor of the deeper truth of Christ and him crucified.
Additives are easy to accept because they make water a little more tolerable. On a trip to Uganda, we encouraged the team to bring single packs of Crystal Lite and Propel so it could disguise the sometimes offensive but mostly boring taste of the local water. Similarly, the naked truth of the gospel can be hard to swallow, even for Christians.
See if any of these spiritual cocktails ring true for you:
Jesus is Lord (1 cup of water), but I’m his favorite so SOMETIMES it’s all about me (1 cup of corn syrup).
I’m a servant of God (1 cup of water), but this is my five-year season of receiving (1 cup of caffeine).
I’m called to take up my cross (1 cup of water), but Jesus suffered so I would never have to (1 cup of BPA, gluten, Chinese lead).
My flesh will ALWAYS try to grab control, glory, and focus away from Jesus, the Lord of glory, and make my faith about ME. This is why vigilance, urgency, and spiritual discipline are so important. At a deeper level, this is why humility is the requisite of Christianity: because in the end, going low, no matter how hydrated I am or bored I am of the taste of water or mature I think I am, will keep me alive. My flesh is still an enemy of my spirit. When revelations run out, it is usually because of a lack of remembrance.
I took communion with brothers and sisters on Sunday, thanking God for his kindness and foresight to remind me that the simple elements I need to be healthy are Jesus’ body broken and blood poured out. I am not so unique and my problems are not so complex that the water of the Word, the air of His Spirit, the food of His body, cannot cure what ails my soul.
My life-goal should not be to find the most delicious gospel+me cocktail possible, but to lay down my life for a perfect God. It is all about him. It’s so simple. It’s so essential. It’s water, and I’m very thirsty.