by Dale Reeves
This past weekend at Christ’s Church, our executive pastor, Alan Baumlein, shared these thoughts in his communion meditation: “For 36 years, Alex Trebek hosted the television game show Jeopardy! He became a fixture in countless households every weeknight. In his book, The Answer Is . . . Reflections on My Life, Trebek reflected, ‘People found comfort in watching Jeopardy! because it became familiar to them. . . . If Jeopardy! were in your pantry, it would be on the shelf labeled “Staples.”’
Alan continued, “There was a time when going to church and participating in various church activities through the week were ‘staples’ of American life. That’s no longer the case. We’re now part of a culture that is growing more and more ‘anti-Christian’ at an alarming rate. For followers of Jesus, the ‘staples’ remain just that; they are the disciplines of the Christian life that must be faithfully maintained and practiced in order to keep our spiritual house in order. Our appetite for time with God in prayer, his Word, and for meaningful fellowship with other Christians is essential. . . . we need to be intentional about the way we prioritize communion and all of the spiritual disciplines; not to do so is to put your spiritual life in real jeopardy.”
Then in our “Blessed” sermon series, our senior minister, Brad Wilson, taught on Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (NIV). As Brad said last Sunday,
“Our appetite for the things of God is a great indicator of our spiritual health.”
Staples in our kitchen at my house include flour, bread, 2% milk, almond milk, “Half Caff” Maxwell House coffee, Stevia, white powered donuts (are they for the grandkids or for me?), string cheese, and the fresh brown eggs we get from John and Sally Skerl every week. If you were to drop in on my wife and me almost any day of the week, no doubt you would find these items. If you were to visit our home just after we have returned from a trip, you might not find much else.
Staples. For many people in the world, that means beans and rice. For some in prison, it might simply mean bread and water. What staples in your diet can’t you live without every day? And, what staples in your spiritual life are essential to your soul’s diet, daily consumption, and growth? As Brad said last Sunday, if your spiritual diet consists of only feeding once a week online or in-person at church on Sunday, you need to take a close look at your walk with God. Your soul simply can’t subsist on that.
One of my favorite preachers, Tony Evans, has said,
“One of the reasons so many of us experience so little of God is that we are not hungry. Hungry people are going to do everything in their power to locate some food. They are going to think of little else.”
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Psalm 42, King David wrote some words to be presented to a group of Levites in charge of the temple worship. He writes,
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1, 2, NIV).
If you have a dog for a pet, then you know what it means to “pant” for water. A deer pants for water, knowing its survival depends on it. A deer seeks water after being chased or hunted by predators. Then, after drinking deeply from the stream, the deer is refreshed, renewed, and full of life—ready for its next adventure. My wife and I have personally witnessed a herd of elk drinking deeply from the Oconaluftee River in the Smoky Mountains just outside of Cherokee, North Carolina. What a wonderful sight it was to behold!
Like the deer who pants for the water, we must earnestly desire God’s eternal water that never runs dry, aching for his Word to dwell in us. Hungering and thirsting for his righteousness in our lives is a matter of survival for our souls. According to mayoclinic.org, water makes up about 50–70 percent of your body weight. Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body needs water to work properly. Lack of a sufficient amount of water can lead to dehydration. You may have heard that we should drink about eight glasses of water per day. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) a day for women.
Our Lord told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well outside of Sychar, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13, 14, ESV).
How much water are you consuming from the “well that never runs dry”? Seeking God with all your heart requires much more than just getting a sip of water every now and then—when you are really hurting and in desperate need of relief from heat exhaustion. Seeking God requires a never-ending thirst, because you always want more of him. Of course, God will not force his water upon anyone. Just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman, we must ask him to give us living water. We must come to the fountain to drink.
Eating great food is awesome—what a gift from God. Staples are necessary for our daily sustenance. But in this dry land that we live in, the only thing that truly satisfies and quenches the soul is the fountain of life flowing from the throne of God. I must go and drink deeply from him.
I’m thirsty—how about you?
“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35, NIV).