Parched, Part 1
I woke up from a groggy sleep a few nights ago. After a few several seconds of blinking, the alarm clock across the room was finally visible.
As I readjusted to go back to sleep, my tongue slid across the top of my mouth and the sound of sandpaper reverberated in my head.
The tip of my tongue and the roof of my mouth were actually sore from the dryness of the air.
I reached for the glass of water on my bed stand, leaned up on one arm, and slowly let the water seep into my mouth. I felt the cool liquid soften my tongue and fill the painful, dry cracks that had started to form.
Parched, Part 2
A few days later, I had being having a difficult day. Haunting anxiety and discouragement had soaked up all joy out of my life. I was in one of those moods where I knew I needed to pray, but I also didn’t want to. I knew that turning to God could fill and sooth my soul, but I kept wandering in my desert pride.
After a brief time, I went to the Lord in prayer and laid my burdens before him. I confessed poor responses to my life’s struggles. I begged him for forgiveness, grace, joy, and peace. I confessed that he was my God, my shelter, and my hope.
Living water flooded my soul and softened my heart. God’s grace filled the cracks that were causing me pain and washed away my sin.
The poor and needy seek water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. I, Yahweh, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the barren heights, and springs in the middles of the plains. I will turn the desert into a pool of water and dry land into springs of water. (Isaiah 42:17-18)
1. Preparation for the Water
The water of life is not for those who think they are fine. It’s not for those who dig wells for themselves to try to find water. It’s not for those who sprint from one mirage to another, hoping to find some peace, some satisfaction, and some relief from the dryness in their soul.
It’s for those who lips are blistered and sore. It’s for those who have been dehydrated to the point of exhaustion. It’s for those who are desperate and realize their need.
Sin has a way of raising the temperature and removing the humidity in our soul. Trying to solve our own problems, or trying to stand on our own goodness, or trying to quench our thirst on the things of this life slowly turn our soul into a desert. It’s no accident that hell, which is reserved for those who won’t turn to God for help, is described as being dry and fiery (Luke 16:24). For those separated from God, hell’s shadow covers this life with a gnawing sense of dryness and thirst.
2. Water in the Desert
This passage describes God as One who wants to help. He does not forsake the thirsty. He does not ignore their cries. Anyone who comes to God will receive forgiveness and showers of grace.
God portrays a beautiful picture of rivers breaking out of the elevated terrain and filtering down to the valleys below. Springs bubble out of the ground in the middle of plain and form pools of cool water. The deserts are transformed into a crystal clear pool of water surrounded by lush terrain.
For anyone who comes, he enriches our hearts, floods our souls, washes away the dryness and the pain and our sin, and brings us everlasting life.
3. Quenching Thirst
A few short chapters after this passage, Isaiah will forecast Jesus’ death on cross. On the cross, Jesus was bruised for our sins and wounded for our pride. The living water that God offers is won through his death on the cross.
On the cross, Jesus’ desert soul cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” and “I thirst.” His soul was in a drought. His heart was parched. The pain and sorrow of sin — ours, not his — agonized the Son of God as he received the full punishment.
And because he received the full drought of sin, we can receive the showers of grace. Because he absorbed the wrath of God to death, we can absorb the grace of God to life.
Because he took our sins on him, he received a desolate desert of God’s judgment; because we take his righteousness on us, we receive undeserved springs of God’s favor.
God is a just God who rightly confines sinners to a desert of thirst, and eventually to the fiery thirst of hell. But he is also a good God who graciously offers to change deserts into springs of water gushing up to eternal life.
Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to waters. (Isaiah 55:1)