Ever feel like you are wilting? Does it ever seem as if you’ve been exhausted of the Spirit?
The issue of “spiritual wilt” was the topic of a message from a few weeks ago – Rivers of Living Water. The message covered the words of Jesus in John 7:37-39 — where Jesus encourages those who are thirty to come to him and those who believe him are invited to drink. For a more complete consideration, I would encourage you to have a listen to the full message.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about my new adventure into gardening and how this new adventure has begun nurturing inspiration for my spiritual growth. Much has occurred in the garden (and, I am sure a few more reflections will arise in the coming weeks).
Something very interesting happened about a month ago: my family and I returned from a 48-hour trip to discover our largest plants in a terrible way. Both of the plants were beginning to wilt. The leaves had no life in them and the stems were already limp.
I took a quick inventory of the garden and soon realized the plants were completely out of water. While I drench the garden the morning we left, the following 48 hours were extremely hot. The plants had fallen into distress with the two largest plants already beginning to wilt.
The lives we live are often big and busy – we try to do all we can and as often as we can. And, quietly frankly, living this way is exhausting.
Even when the betterment of others is our aim, we are susceptible to exhaustion. Sustaining our family, supporting our friends, serving our clients/patients/students is all very exhausting!
Living big and busy lives can wear you down, physically.
For many of us, the exhaustion is more than physical.
The exhaustion is something else; something different.
The exhaustion brought out by our big and busy lives is felt from within — within the body, within the heart, within the place where joy is supposed to thrive.
When our lives gets a little too big and a little too busy, the thriving of joy feels a lot more like a wilting of the heart and the wilting of the spirit.
Back to my plants…
One was of a squash variety and the other was a zucchini.
They were in terrible shape…serious exhaustion, serious wilt.
Over the course of an hour, I began to slowly add water back into the containers. An intentional offering of water was contributed to the roots of these distressed plants.
The response was almost immediate as the stems began standing tall and the leaves became firm within an hour.
The water restored life to the plants.
The water offered to these plants would further sustain their life.
And, most amazingly, two weeks later those plants were producing “fruits” (vegetables) that would sustain the life of my family.
Jesus cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” Now [Jesus] said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive. — John 7:37b-39a
The more complex our lives (and, by here, I specifically mean the more we attempt to do, the more frequently we attempt to do it, and everyone we attempt to serve), the more susceptible we are to wilting of a spiritual nature.
“Out of the believer’s heart will flow rivers of living water,” which is true. But, the believer must first go to the source of the water and drink. The believer must receive and be filled by the water that sustains authentic life. Then, and only then, will the heart nourished by the Spirit grow and bear fruit.
Discover the hope in these words of Jesus for all who have or may be feeling a little wilted…
You are not meant to be the source of water that sustains, supports or serves.
You are invited to come; and, you are meant to drink, to be filled, and to allow the Spirit to work in you and through you.
The fruit produced by you (through you) may sustain the authentic life of another, but you are not the source of the water that restores and sustains. You are simply a witness to the power of the Spirit at work in you.
Feeling a little wilted?
Has life gotten a little too big and a little too busy?
Do not be discouraged!
Your exhaustion does not signal your insufficiency. Your exhaustion is simply a reminder of your need to pause before his presence, to receive the restorative and sustaining power of the living water, and to joyfully experience the power of the Spirit at work in you and through you.
Side Note – I encourage those who have time to listen to the message related to this topic. Properly understanding the full significance of the invitation of Jesus “to drink” requires consideration to a key detail in the passage – Jesus spoke these words “On the last day of the festival, the great day.” (John 7:37) The message takes the timing and the setting of Jesus’s words into account for a more complete interpretation of the significance of this Scripture.