A thirsty man would surely die in need of a drink.
And where once there was life, there's a graveyard of memories,
The immobile energies of paper--paper and ink."
--Windows to Wonderland, Rich Mullins 1975
Rich Mullins' second year in Bible College, he was struggling with rationalism--the idea that everything we can learn about God comes through our minds and our direct senses, through analyzing words on a page. But Richard was constantly thirsty for more than words. Eventually, he came to believe that God wants us to worship with our lives, not just our words. This is true worship, the living water he'd thirsted for. "Windows to Wonderland" asks the questions that Richard soon answered in his original version of "If I Stand."
Living Waters: When will our thirst be quenched?
In Israel, times and places of worship were strictly structured; guidelines of purification also needed to be met before worshippers could experience the presence of God. If the desire for God's presence is a thirst, when will it be quenched? The days of temple worship are over. Do we have to live out our lives dry, thirsty, waiting to meet God in heaven at last? Jesus spread the good news that the drought is over--now. "The day is soon coming, and is now here, that you will worship. . ." The Greek word for worship conveys the idea of "kissing the hand towards," significantly, not an abstract state of mind, but an action. Words may express worship, but verbal worship fails when our words and our actions do not match. "you will worship God in Spirit and in truth." God cannot be confined to words on a page. God is worshipped in Spirit, and in the truth of our lives.
In the Hebrew tradition of purification, there were times when living water (running water from a stream, spring or ritual pool) was indispensible. Before entering the temple, before the bride's wedding ceremony, after any ritual uncleanness, upon initiation into their faith, men and women of the nation of Israel used living water for the cleansing mikveh, a total immersion in living water.
Based on John 4:1-28
Jesus' disciples had been initiating so many followers that the Pharisees started to hear about it. So Jesus and his disciples left the living waters of Judea and moved on to Galilee.
Jesus had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town called Sychar, to Jacob’s well in Samaria. There Jesus sat to rest in the heat of the day. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
Not with her ears, but with her heart she heard him say, "You are a human being, just like I am."
Because he treated her like an equal, the woman spoke boldly: “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Jesus answered her, “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.”
But she heard him say, "I know you are a woman and must cleanse yourself with living water in order to worship. I know it must be hard to want God so much and to have to work so hard to come near him. I can make it all so much easier."
“Sir,” she came back, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?"
And in her mind she thought, "Just how exceptional is this this man? He thinks he can bring running water into a dry land!"
And out loud she asked, "Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “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.”
Her heart began to awaken. She remembered the psalm, "Like a parched land, my soul thirsts for you. . ."
She said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
Her heart and her life matched her thoughts, and instantly truth fell from her lips. “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet."
Her heart pounded as she asked herself, "This man knows the truth. But what about me? What if I have been wrong all my life? And now that I meet him, will the one who has the right answers tell me that my worship has been for nothing?"
Out loud she said, "Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming and has now come when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in truth. These are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit: he is to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
In her heart she whispered, "Are you . . . you the one?" The man was wise, kind, fair, and a prophet. She knew she could trust his word. Her throat went dry while she waited for his answer.
Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”