Boot Camp for the Soul: Hydrate
Rev. Sandy Johnson
March 19, 2017
Water. We can’t live without it. It covers 70% of the planet. It is essential to our bodies’ survival. We can go a month without food but only a week, at most, without water. Water helps us maintain a proper body weight, it increases energy levels, decreases some risks of cancer and reduce joint and back pain. People who drink plenty of water have less sick days and fewer headaches. Their skin is more naturally moisturized and their digestion is top notch!  Our bodies are 65% water. To say it is essential to us would be a gross understatement.
And it’s not just the digestion of water that is important to us, there are a multitude of other benefits as well. I received a great article this week from Kathleen Wood about the physical benefits of being near water, sitting next to a lake or stream, or lounging on the beach, feet buried in the sand, as you looked out at the rolling waves. Just imaging ourselves in these locations brings a bit of a smile to our faces!
That got me thinking about my own vacation destinations. I can tell you that every vacation I have taken in the past 20 years has been near water. Family trips to the Oregon Coast, Navajo Lake in Southern Utah, and Paulina Lake in Oregon. I’ve enjoyed water landscapes in Venice, Naples, and Barcelona; and my favorite, the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Water has been drawing me for years. It’s only this week that I discovered that there is a certain scientific reaction to what researchers are calling “blue space” that happens when we spend time near water.
Researchers suggest that being near water helps reduce depression, increases mental clarity, it promotes creativity because your brain is relaxed and it’s more open for inspiration. People who spend time near water sources report being less stressed. “Some scientist believe that the positive ions given off by the appliances everyday leave us feeling angry, cranky, and overworked. Naturally occurring negative ions counteract all of this” and are found in naturally occurring water sources – lakes, streams and oceans. Sitting near the ocean can also help change our perspective on the world.
Water can also cause destruction. Too much rain can cause rivers to rise and homes and businesses to be destroyed. Not enough water and we have drought and the plants and people perish. Water can be both a comfort and a curse.
I think we can all agree that water is important for us physically and emotionally. But what about spiritually? “This Sunday of Lent, we particularly note how spiritual hydration is essential for the transformation we seek.” In our scripture readings this morning, we read about thirsty people – the Israelites who were wandering in the desert with no water source and then Jesus, who was traveling through Samaria and stopped at Jacob’s well to get a drink. The Exodus scripture speaks about the Israelites physical thirst. They complained to Moses that they were thirsty, so Moses spoke to God on their behalf and God showed Moses how to create water from a stone. Problem solved.
In John’s scripture, we read the story of the “woman at the well.” Jesus meets this Samaritan woman face to face at the Jacob’s Well and asks her for a drink. The woman is aware how awkward this is, because not only is there racial tension between them (Jesus is a Jew and she a Samaritan), but there is also a gender trap. No self-respecting Jew would dare to speak to a Samaritan, especially not a woman. But Jesus doesn’t seem to notice that she is different and that he is overstepping social mores and tradition in even having a conversation with her! In this simple exchange, he demonstrates for us that He is God for all of us and even when the woman points out their differences, he ignores her and doesn’t respond.
As we read through this story we are exposed to the powerful metaphor Jesus offers for the spiritual hydration that comes when we believe in Jesus Christ. When we receive water from Christ, the living water he speaks about, we can expect never to thirst again. “Indeed”, says Jesus, “the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
During Lent, we have all enrolled in our own spiritual “Bootcamp for the Soul” and we have considered for ourselves what exercises we might be doing, that will help us be in the best spiritual shape come Easter. We can imagine ourselves like this bulb that has been planted deep in the soil. The combination of the soil, proper sunshine and just enough water, will create conditions for this bulb to break out of the dark, warm soil and raise its green fronds toward the sun. In no time, we will see the development of buds and then flowers of varying colors will burst forth.
This bulb won’t grow without water, and neither will our spiritual selves without this living water that Jesus speaks about. What is the living water? What is its very essence? We know it’s not two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms, H20, right? So, what is it? Let’s look at another scripture to see if we can figure this out. John 7:37-39, reading from the New International Version:
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is the living water that he knew would be poured out onto his followers, but not until later, after he had resurrected. Acts 10:44-45 says that, “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”
All of us have the great privilege and opportunity to be filled to overflowing with the living water, God’s Holy Spirit. “It is the ministry of the Spirit, flowing out of a heart redeemed by God, that blesses believers and, through them, brings life and light to the world.” That is our greatest calling, to tend to our own spiritual selves so that we might be equipped to serve God in whatever way he asks.
And God is asking. Of course, there is a risk that we might never feel we are fully ready to do God’s work, and avoid answering the call. Avoid being the hands and feet that God uses to transform our society. I want to assure you that God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called. He equips those he calls to do his work in whatever ways are needed, for the task at hand. Thankfully we don’t have to have all the answers before we drink our fill of the Spirit of Christ, this Living Water. We can begin to experience the richness of a life in Christ, by being in service to others.
My question to all of you, is “have your sources of spiritual hydration run dry? If so, what are you going to do about it? And finally, how can we seek and experience the living water God wants to provide for us today?” Are we willing to drink in the living water and never thirst again?
Let us pray: Gracious Lord, source of Living Water, pour your Spirit on us this day. Help us to feel the cool spring water enveloping our parched selves as we become saturated with Christ’s very being. Don’t allow us to ignore you and this boot camp for our souls. Guide us and free us for joyful obedience to your ways. We pray this all in Jesus name. Amen.
 John 4:14b
 John 7:37-39
 Acts 10:44-45