There’s been a lot of emphasis in our society on reversing the effects of the obesity crisis, on decreasing heart disease, diabetes, strokes, dementia, and cancer. There are constantly news specials on it, and articles in the papers on it. Even the last first lady, Michelle Obama, took on the battle against childhood obesity. But what all of these articles show us is the importance of maintaining a healthy life style. We need to exercise, watch what we eat, take care with our stress levels, and be aware of our family histories.
In today’s world, being healthy requires thoughtful planning and thoughtful living. We are constantly faced with decisions. Drink a glass of water or a glass of soda. Eat carrots for a snack or that particularly yummy looking donut. One of the things I had to learn to do was to be watchful of my intake of water. I have found that periodically I get dehydrated. I don’t always get my 8 glasses a day and other days I seem to get 10 plus glasses. Healthy living has been a concern of humanity from the beginning of time. In the ancient world, healthy living was just as much of a concern as it is for us, though for many different reasons.
In the time of Moses and the people of Israel, having enough of the necessities of life was crucial to their survival, to preventing disease, dehydration in the desert, and ultimately to preventing death. This was the anxiety of the people of Israel as they wandered through the desert. They were not a desert peoples. They did not know where to access water. They did not know how to access food and they did not know what was healthy to eat and what would kill them. Every day was a struggle to maintain that healthy balance as they wandered, following where God was telling them to go.
They became so concerned, so worried that they began to question Moses’ leadership abilities. Though they had been given many signs of the presence of God in the plagues on the Egyptians, the parting of the red sea, and the way God protected them from the wrath of Pharaoh, the people seemed to have forgotten all of that as they faced death in the desert by starvation, heat, and lack of water. Their worry caused them to react violently, as water has and continues to do throughout history. And they questioned, “Where was God and was he present in their time of struggle and anxiety?”
We all have asked this question, though probably not connected to need of the basics of life. We have all wondered or perhaps even verbally asked “Where is God?” Where is God when we are suffering; where is God when we lose our loved ones; where is God when life seems to be crashing all around us? We want the burning bush experience. We want God to give us a rock that creates water on command providing us with not only what we need to thrive but also with that constant physical reminder that he is there.
But Jesus taught us that God should not have to continuously prove himself or his presence but rather we must work and learn to place our trust in him. We should seek not just that which will sustain the physical life, but that which will sustain our spiritual life. We should seek the spiritual water that God offers to all peoples, water that will quench the thirsting of our souls. That water, that analogy, is God; it is our relationship with God. Christ was to be the living reminder to all of us forever, that God has not forgotten us. God has not and never will abandon us. Though, periodically we might abandon him. God is with us in our struggles, in our celebrations and offers us his comfort, guidance, and presence promising to strengthen our souls and provide us with a purpose to life.
Thomas Fuller, from the 17th century, wrote, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry”. This was the teaching of Christ. Physical wells, even the well of Jacob that held spiritual importance to the people of Israel, run dry. There will always be physical wants, needs, and desires. The water that Christ provides doesn’t cure the physical thirsts of life. But rather it quenches the desires of the soul. The desire to know more, to have our deepest questions answered, to feel a sense of purpose to this world. The water that Christ offers to us, once we’ve accepted it, can grow and become sustaining if we only trust in the Lord and let him work through us and in us. Remember that Christ said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life”.
Reach out to God and let the spring of faith take life in you and let it show in the works that you do and in the way you reach out to others in this world that they may look and know that you live by the teachings of Christ. Be like the Samaritan woman and eagerly accept the life being offered to you today and every day because it will afford you the strength to weather the challenges of this world, to grow in faith, and to look towards living life beyond the physicalities of this world. Let the life of the spirit take hold in your lives, nurture and care for it. For without it life is just lacking in meaning. Don’t let the wells of your faiths run dry. Look to God to keep those waters running. For the water Christ offers is just as necessary to our spiritual health as water is to our physical well being.
 Thomas Fuller, 17th century.
 John 4: 13-14, NRSV.
(Based in Exodus 17: 1-7 and John 4: 5-42)