Can you remember a time when you were thirsty? I mean REALLY thirsty, with a desperate cotton-mouthed dryness where feelings of survival surfaced? Let me tell you about a “mountain-top” experience that I shared with my husband a few months ago. It was a hot, dry, blazing blue day at Zion National Park in southwest Utah. Everything about that day was filled with expectation. We had heard so many impressive things about this park and we were not disappointed. The massive sandstone cliffs and high plateaus, along with deep rich canyons, filled us with awe at every turn!
Enthusiastically choosing a hike, we picked a moderately strenuous trail promising to satisfy our needs: not too hard (for me) but challenging (for Brian) and very beautiful (for both of us). Packing a bottle of water and an energy bar to share, we innocently ignored the warnings about water and food.
We took off energetically, eager for the experience. After a while we came to a T intersection where a couple sat trying to decide which direction to go. To the right was our intended pathway. To the left was a destination called Observation Point. Three women suddenly appeared from that direction and show us pictures on their phones testifying to the observable beauty of the rocks, canyons, trail and the ending point. They didn’t seem to be too tired out. We made a decision, without much thought, I might add, to change our plans. Perhaps we should have paid attention. Really.
I’ve read the three rules of mountaineering. Remembering them THEN might have benefitted us, even though we were only hiking, not mountaineering.
“It’s always further than it looks. It’s always taller than it looks. And it’s always harder than it looks.”
I don’t ever remember being as thirsty as I felt that day. Being hot, unable to breathe (due to elevation increase), exhausted and unable to eat (no saliva) I could not imagine a more dismal situation for my body. I drank small sips knowing that our water supply was very low but I would NOT give up. My husband was tired too but he cheered me on by telling me several times that it would be fine for me to stop! But no! I was determined to forge ahead and accomplish this thing.
Hours later we reached the goal, Observation Point. We sat on the flat red rock and looked down on the stupendous view. It should have really zowwed us. Funny thing though…it seemed to dim in light of our immense thirst. We turned around, encouraged some weary pilgrims still on the upward path and headed downward.
In Matthew 5: 6 I read a word from Jesus. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.
Have I ever felt as thirsty for righteousness as I felt for water that day? I have to admit that it is not my norm. What might produce in me that kind of desperation?
- The loss of a job?
- Pain from the past?
- Lies that haunt my thinking?
- Hormonal dictation???
Yeah, me too. But let’s pay attention. Let’s not ignore the warnings. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness can come in the midst of pain. It is a deep search for God: for his truth and his refining. Jesus has a promise for those who develop that kind of intense hunger and thirst:
They will be filled.
The promise is not for when it is over. He gives it as we press in. As Jesus walked toward the cross, His Father gave Him what He longed for: a pure, sweet, full, rich, refreshing assurance that He was doing what He was called to do. He was doing His Father’s will.
At the bottom of our mountain hike, my husband and I were numb, shell-shocked, feeling like strangers among “normal” people…until we filled that little water bottle to overflowing and partook fully of the life giving refreshment.
Let’s open our hearts to the solution for our thirst. Let’s not waste the pain. There is a promise here. They will be filled, quenched, satisfied. It’s not necessarily a change in our circumstance, but rather a deep abiding assurance that we are on the right path as we seek Him and His righteousness each step of the way.