Have you ever been truly, deeply thirsty? Parched all the way from your lips to your loins . . . scorched like a desiccated crustacean who didn’t quite scurry back to the retreating tides quickly enough.
If you have, you know how savory—how gloriously life giving—a simple drink of water can be. In fact, when you experience thirst like this and take that first quenching swallow, there is nothing else like it in the world.
In those rare moments of dire yearning and satisfaction, we understand how water is utterly vital to life. All the treasures and honors of this world would be meaningless, if they were intended to substitute for that most basic human necessity.
I was pondering the importance of water as I examined the photograph above. The Mars rover Curiosity took it. NASA considers the outcrop here to be the edge “of an ancient streambed.” Rounded rocks, which would presumably have been shaped as they tumbled along “vigorous” creeks or rivers, support that notion. The quest transpiring across our solar system this very hour is nothing less than a search for evidence of life on that arid planet
Water, of course, is necessary to life “as we know it.” Thus the vast significance of the discovery.
Jesus of Nazareth was talking one day with a woman of Samaria. He brashly said of the water she was drawing from a well that dated back to the days of the Patriarch Jacob: “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.”
Because we are inescapably bound to water, it carries tremendous power as a simile or metaphor. C.S. Lewis used it quite effectively in the following passage. In it, he is discussing the true value of performing religious exercises, even when they do not bring us joy or a conscious sense of renewal. As usual, Lewis uses vivid imagery to communicate profound truth.
When we carry out our “religious duties” we are like
people digging channels in a waterless land, in order that when at last the water comes, it may find them ready. . . . There are happy moments, even now, when a trickle creeps along the dry beds; and happy souls to whom this happens often. (C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms).
I’m saddened by the number of people (especially those with a family legacy of faith) who succumb to the secular philosophies of our materialistic world. They surrender to the world’s hedonistic proclamation that personal happiness is the greatest good! They are ultimately destined to find their souls withered and wasted by the waterless doctrines they embrace.
The worst part of it all is that the water is right in front of us all, offered freely to each of us. We don’t need to commission any expensive interplanetary projects to seek it out. We don’t need to try to be “good enough” to deserve it. All we need do is accept the gift, priceless though it is.