The worst place to die of thirst must be the ocean.
“Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink,” says the old poem, and it’s an apt description of the situation. Stranded in a small boat, with not canteen of fresh water, you’re surrounded by miles and miles of water–but none of it does you any good.
Ocean water isn’t fit for drinking. The salt in it dehydrates you, drying you out from the inside out. Drinking it won’t hydrate you–it’ll do the opposite, and absorb your life away. The sea mixed with salt can’t help you. You can scoop it, splash in it, and even swim in it–but none of it will quench your thirst.
The worst place to be thirsty is in the middle of the ocean–and the worst place to be thirsty for God’s Word is in Bible class.
After all, you’re surrounded with Scripture. You can scoop up verses in class, splash about in it during discussions, and swim deeply in it for papers. But sometimes, none of that really does you any good. You’re still thirsty. Because you’re not really drinking fresh water. Because the water of the Word is mixed with the salt of second-hand. And if you’re not careful, it can dry your spiritual life out
Trading Personal Experience for Second-Hand Information
Does that sound ridiculous? Does it sound too far-fetched to ever happen? I don’t think so–because it’s happened to me.
I (finally) started studying at college this last semester, and four out of my five classes were Bible classes (and the fifth was Biblical counseling, so it still slightly counts). I was surrounded by Scripture, navigating my little boat through the currents of Bible lectures, Bible commentaries, and reading a book of the Bible each week–and they were the hefty 40-chapter ones too!
Yet in the midst of all of all this water, I left behind my canteen. I stopped my own personal study. “I’m reading so much already!” I justified. “Surely that covers my daily devotions!”
In short, I had decided that being surrounded by information about God justified skipping out on knowing him for myself. I traded personal experience for second-hand exhortation and encouragement.
Others’ Teachings Are Good–But Not Enough
Don’t get me wrong, all the resources, lectures, and commentaries are good things. But we can’t only have those. God has placed over us pastors, preachers, and professors over us to help teach us God’s Word and show us truths out of it. But that can’t be all we get. Salt is required for our bodies to function, and even a draught of sea water every now and then can do us good. But we can’t live only on it.
No good will come of it if you try to. When you get dehydrated, you get disoriented, unable to focus, and weak–and that’s exactly what happened to me. When I stopped my own personal quiet time, everything felt off. I felt disoriented from knowing what I was supposed to do, unable to focus on what was really important, and weak in my spiritual muscles. All because I had stopped drinking from the “fountain of living water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
Seek To Drink Deeper
God’s Word is living water. It is alive. And without it, we wouldn’t be.
While academically studying the Bible is important, we can’t reduce it down to just facts, themes, and outlines. It’s about something more. Something deeper. Something we don’t get second hand. God is a personal God, and he calls us to know him, not just know about him from others. Our time with the Word shouldn’t be about just mastering knowledge (as important as that is) but about meditating on it, letting it soak deep into our souls.
The Bible can quench our thirst for purpose, for meaning in life, and for our need for something more that lies in each of us. It is living water, and if we drink of it we will never thirst again (John 4:14).
God’s Word is necessary for life, and tomorrow we’ll talk about some practical ways to know it for ourselves in the midst of busy lives. Because if we’re not careful, we’ll surround ourselves with the knowledge of the Word–but never take a sip. “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink,” will become the sad summary of our lives. We’ll stay dehydrated, thirsty for God’s truth; because if we’re only drinking secondhand ocean water, we’ll dry out.
But if we’ll come to God, desiring to know him and his Word for ourselves, he’ll fill us to overflowing full.
Previously published on TheReb