“Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).
Grace and peace to the saints of God, and greetings to the household of darkness.
I just took a bath a little while ago, and I can tell you, it was almost a religious experience. The water was just the right temperature, and my body was somewhat sore from my morning workout. So it was just the ticket. I even dozed off a couple of times.
I realized that today was the first time in over four years that I have just sat in the tub and soaked. I used to do it at least once a week for therapeutic reasons. Besides being necessary for life, water is good for the body and mind. But for some reason, since coming back to the U.S. from Germany four years ago, I haven’t spent more than ten or fifteen minutes in the tub, and as I sat there, I tried to figure out why. It occurred to me that my whole attitude towards water has changed in the last ten years or so.
Though I have been blessed to have had access to potable water and the ability to take baths all my life, when I lived in Germany, I gained a new appreciation for water. I remember the exact day that my attitude towards water was changed forever, and it happened on this wise:
I was living in Munich at the time and was visiting a friend of mine from Ghana. As many of you may know, there is a very large contingent of Africans from the Diaspora living in Germany, and many of them live in Munich. Africans love television, and they love to get movies from their own countries. As a matter of fact, making movies for those in the Diaspora is a major industry in Africa. Whenever I would go to visit my friend—Bobby was his name—he was sure to be watching a movie from Africa or Jamaica. And Bobby had very good taste in movies. We would go through a couple of movies in a sitting, and no matter what time I told my wife I would be home, I was sure to need a phone call from her to remind me.
Well, on one visit to Bobby’s, he was watching a movie from South Africa. The storyline involved a schoolteacher from one of the larger cities who goes to a small town to teach, and the challenges that the job and the move presented. On the day she arrived, a small contingent of her new colleagues came to pay her a visit. They knocked on the door, and after kissing one another on the cheek and asking each other’s welfare, they presented her with a housewarming gift. Do you know what it was? A bottle of water. And she was very happy to receive it. I asked my friend if it were common to give visitors water as a present, and he told me that water is so precious, that he would not be surprised if it were.
That revelation changed my life. I had never heard such a thing, and I realized that I had always taken it for granted that water would always be plentiful, potable, and accessible. It had never occurred to me that there were places on earth where water is so scarce that it is makes a suitable present.
From that day forward, I had a completely different attitude towards water. I try my best not to waste it. For instance, I like taking baths rather than showers. That is because as a child, we did not have a shower, but only a bathtub, so I was raised taking baths. My first shower was in the Army where there were nothing but showers. It was exciting. I thought I would never again take another bath. But all that changed one night while I was stationed in Panama in the early eighties. [Queue flashback music.]
One night I and my unit were on a reconnaissance mission and had trudged through the jungle for many hours. At around 2:00 a.m. we stopped at the point where we were to hook up with another unit, and we all lay down to rest. After sitting there for about an hour, it began to rain. And rain. And rain. And rain. And it was a cold rain, made worse by the fact that our pores were still open from having walked so long in the sweltering jungle heat. At first it was refreshing, but after an hour it became torturous. We lay there on the ground for close to three hours under that unrelenting rain, when I realized that I could no longer feel the rain falling on me. My skin had become waterlogged, and my core temperature was so low, that I could no longer feel the difference between my skin and the rain. It turned out that others were in the same predicament. Such a situation can get terminal in a hurry. We had to get moving.
While they were making the decision to leave, I told a friend of mine that I would give anything for a hot bath at that moment. Minutes later, the word came down, and we made a beeline for the barracks. We got there with a speed that would make Usain Bolt look like Scatman Caruthers.
Since that day, I have rarely taken a shower. I have been living at my present address for three years, but I have only taken one shower. And since baths consume a lot of water, I bathe only a couple times a week, so that I will not waste water. It is no longer a conscious decision but an automatic lifestyle choice. I do it because I know that there are those in the world who cannot take full body baths, but must wash out of a basin or bucket. I know that what I do will never affect them, but it keeps me mindful of them and helps me to identify with them in some way. Ever since I was a child, I would let the water run from the faucet while I brushed my teeth, but no longer. And I keep a couple of bottles of water in reserve in case the water should get cut off. Water is precious.
These things occurred to me as I sat in the bathtub. Water is precious: it is essential to life. Do you know that water is more important to the human body than food? The body is two thirds water. One may go without food for a month and live, but few can go that long without water. Water is a blessing. But water is so plentiful in America that we take it for granted. How often do we thank God for giving us water? We need water more than we need most of the things that we ask God for, yet that which is most necessary to life, God has already provided; and we fail to thank Him for it.
Water is also one example of the goodness and mercy of God and how He blesses both the righteous and the ungodly, as God provides water to both unconditionally.
Consider this the next time you take a bath, or drink a glass of water, or brush your teeth, or wash the dishes. Where would you be without the blessing of water? As you read this, give God thanks for having provided water to you all the days of your life, even though you may never have thought to thank Him for it. And say a prayer for those who live in places where water is scarce.
And while you’re at it, thank the Father for giving us all The Living Water, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You can keep your money. Just give me Water.
The Still Man
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