“When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them. I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus. I will give them fountains of water in the valleys. I will fill the desert with pools of water. Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.” (Isaiah 41:17-18, NLT)
First things first, I don’t believe in spiritual “seasons.” I won’t submit to that churchly analogy—however cleverly it’s spoken. I will literally leave from a sermon wherein the pastor wants me to acquiesce in accepting “dry seasons,” “down times,” and “dark nights of the soul.” And, please understand me: This is नहीं because I’ve never experienced the feeling of feeling dry, in an emotional abyss, or walking through my own share of overwhelming darkness. Along with all of you: I’ve been there, I’ve done that.
No, the reason I will not accept accepting dry, down, dark “seasons” is because of promises like these; New Covenants like ours.
Allow me to explain more fully.
When the aforementioned “poor and needy” are searching for “water” and finding “none,” they are representative of every man, woman and child searching for spiritual reality and yet नहीं finding their way to God. Spiritual poverty is equivalent to unmet spiritual thirst; and the worst place to be thirsty is in a land with no water, no wells.
But, being thirsty, with tongues dry and “parched,” this promise clearly states that the thirsty prayers of these people will be answered. The “God of Israel… will never abandon them”—and, instead, will do क्या? “Open up rivers for them on the high plateaus”; “give them fountains of water in the valleys”; “fill the desert with pools of water.” The topography of their dry, thirsty, inner lives will become like “rivers fed by springs” that flow over and “across the parched ground.”
That is the sparkling joy of this beautiful promise.
But let’s take it even a step further.
On a certain day, sitting in a small, Samaritan town, waiting beside its central well, Jesus spoke these words to an incredulous woman: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10, NIV). To which she demurs, pointing out His lack of ladle or bucket, plus His scarcity of seeming status when compared to the patriarch Jacob who’d provided said well. Jesus is not put off by her arguments. He goes on, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13,14, NIV, Italics mine).
Then, not too many months later, standing in the Temple at the center of all Jewish worship, Jesus goes on again: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:37,38, NIV, italics mine). And the apostle John, worried that we’d struggle to connect the spiritual dots between these references to spiritual water, then drops his readers a little aside: “By this [Jesus] meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39, NIV).
But Jesus has अभी “been glorified,” hasn’t He?
And the Spirit has अभी “been given,” right?
So, this Spirit who is the “rivers of living water” that “flow from within,” the One who comes to those who “believe in” Jesus—those who थे “thirsty” and came to Him to “drink”; this Spirit who is a “spring of water welling up to eternal life,” the water Jesus gives and by which we may “never thirst”; this Holy Spirit of Jesus who is the “living water” that, according to Jesus Himself, we may simply ask for—वह is the fulfillment of the promise, as spoken to Isaiah, in the words we call Isaiah 41:17,18! The Holy Spirit is the actual, living key to unlocking every part of today’s promise!
In fact, reread that promise this way:
“When the spiritually poor and needy search for spiritual answers and yet find none, and their tongues are parched from spiritual thirst, then I, the Lord Jesus, will answer them. I, the God of the universe, will never abandon them. I will pour out my Spirit, opening up rivers for their souls in the heavenly high plateaus. I will give them fountains of my Spirit in the valleys of their inner lives. I will fill the dry, down, dark deserts of their spirits with my Holy Spirit. Rivers fed by springs that flow from the throne of God will flow across their parched ground—forever.”
My friend, the reason I will not submit to any, even the cleverest, analogy of seasons, valleys or darknesses is because of promises like these. I will not allow my spirit to ignore the presence of the Holy Spirit who is living water, a spring, a fountain, a river by which I never need thirst again. And while I am not belittling the challenges we all face—especially as I’m writing this in the midst of a global pandemic—I will not bow my knee to them.
No season is stronger than Jesus of Nazareth.
No thirst is left unquenchable in His presence.
No dark night cannot be lit up by His Spirit.
But—we must come to Him, ask, believe, receive, drink, be filled, if we’d want, as promised, to never thirst again. We must let the Holy Spirit be the spring, fountain and river of living water that He’s been promised to us to be.
Shall we let Him be Himself today?