The more my life is about putting God first, focusing on God rather than worldly desires, the more I discover myself thirsting like the deer who “pants for the water”.
As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants after you, God.” -Psalm 42:1
I didn’t realize how deeply I yearned for God, until one day, out-of-the-blue, I experienced a kind of vertigo, as if some force pulled a rug from beneath me. For several moments I felt suspended in mid-air, falling into a bottomless canyon. When I came to awareness, I felt an intangible longing, as if for someone I loved, long gone. Nothing in my life would indicate such a need, a longing. I’m loved by my husband, my son, friends and family. I have a roof over my head and a solid floor beneath my feet. My life often feels filled with meaning.
In reflecting on this strange vertigo, I realized an existential fear threatened my seeming well-being, and I longed for Jesus. I longed deeply for full immersion in Christ, for embodying Jesus’ words, “you are in me, and I am in you“. I longed for knowing, no matter if a rug were pulled out from beneath me, that, in the words of mystic Julian Norwich,“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” I thirsted for a cup brimming over, for deep-sea diving, a plunge into the fountain of God’s everlasting springs, drenched in the living water Christ’s spoke of to the Samaritan women at Jacob’s Well.
“A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman therefore said to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10
Jesus tells her, unlike the water you seek, the water he offers will make her eternally, thirst-free. Like me, she yearns for such long-term thirst quenching.
This weekend, my adventurous husband took me on another surprise hike, 6 miles in search of a waterfall he heard flowed over boulders of volcanic rock. It’s important to know Southern California is in midst of a serious drought. Our communities are on ‘drought watch’, meaning we’re limited on days we can water our garden. We even planted a cactus garden in our backyard, as tempting as it was to pass up the vibrant, colorful snapdragons and impatiens at the garden shop. Tan-colored fields filled with brittle, bone-dead plants dot our thirsty landscape, I often imagine them fields of flowers like Monet’s garden scenes. So our hiking excursions often become like scavenger hunts for water.
What a glorious hike it was, through, yes, long stretches of parched fields, but also through deep woodsy areas sheltered by ancient oaks, magical sycamore groves, abundant with flourishing fauna, with a creek weaving like a vein through the heart of the preserve. The winding paths took us far from the sounds of city traffic, deep into the silence of the wood where we found a poet lover posted soulful poems about nature and soul-searching on posts, under rocks, on trailhead markers, reminding us of our utter need for God and the earth’s great beauty we’ve been gifted.
We shall be “like a tree planted by the streams of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither.” – Psalm 1:3
After long stretches of trail without shelter, we hid in a grove of towering oaks, dodging the scorching sun and 85 degree heat. Sharing one water container, we took tiny sips. Immersed in this magical wilderness, wiping off sweat from our brows, we greeted the ancient grandmother trees with a smile.
Making our way through this ancient forest, back on the open sky trail, following a long, dusty winding trail, finally we reached our destination and treasure. Nestled in towering volcanic rock formations, small cascading waterfalls dropped into refreshing pools nestled in artistic volcanic rock formations.
My husband jumped right in, immersed, drenched, thirst quenched.
“My soul thirsts for God, the living God” – Psalm 42:2
“Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!” – Jesus, John 7:37
“Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat!” – Isaiah 55:1
God’s love satisfies “thy soul in drought, and strengthen thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a water-spring, whose waters deceive not.” – Isaiah 58:11
“Abide in Me, and I in you.” – Jesus, John 15:4
“They will never be hungry, neither thirsty any more; neither will the sun beat on them, nor any heat”- Revelations”. – 7:16
“It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life.” – Revelations 21:6