One solitary drop of water landed with a splash on the outstretched tongue. Until that very moment, the soul was unaware of its thirst. Now its open mouth reached heavenward in great expectation.
How long since I last drank?
With eyes and awareness now raised the soul saw nothing but desert stretched out ahead. No life apparent here, only bones…eerie predictors of the soul’s own fate.
How did I come to this dry and desolate place?
When the soul began its journey it had waded waist-deep in the stream of living water, drinking deeply and frequently. Memory supplied the missing snapshots.
“Do you know enough about that water you’re walking in?” the confident fellow on the shore had inquired. “Do you know where it comes from, what it is made of, what lives in it, where it will end?”
No. I hadn’t thought about those things. I was just enjoying the water.
“A common mistake,” the fellow had laughed. “The water will shrivel your skin. You need to walk out here until you know more about it.”
I’m really getting thirsty. I think I’ll go back to the water.
“That would be a big mistake. What you need is food. Here. Eat this steak. Then we will have some bread.”
The bread and steak are wonderful, but I’m so thirsty. I need some water to wash it down.
“Only the weak return to the water. See how foolish and immature the others look, splashing in the stream?"
I wish I was in the water with them.
“Those who are mature crave food. Follow me.”
Long rows of tables stretched across the dining hall. Heads bowed over heaping plates. The diners ate in silence except for the chewing and smacking sounds that occasionally escaped their lips. The soul felt thin and frail compared to the overall plumpness of this group. They motioned toward a chair at one of the tables spread with an amazing array of various foods.
Oh! Thank you! But could I please have a drink of water?
At this the other diners stopped in mid-bite and stared. The meaning behind their blank expressions could not be discerned, but the soul flashed its best smile, grabbed a fork, and began to eat, instructing itself not to ask the same question again.
Life centered on the preparation, presentation, and consumption of extravagant meals. Nothing else seemed to be of any importance. As promised, knowledge about water was gained, and the soul became convinced that the knowledge was a logical, if not wholly satisfying, substitute for the real thing. The soul found itself gaining poundage and looking very much like the other diners. It felt smug and superior when the occasional frail soul wandered in.
But over time the number of diners had dwindled. Those who ventured outside the dining hall never returned. The soul left, promising to return with young souls that needed filling.
How could I have forgotten how much I need the water?
The soul fell to its knees in the scorching sand. A prayer emanated from its parched lips.
Jesus, I have wandered far from You, the living water. Foolishly I denied the thirst you created within me. That one drop of water on my tongue has brought me to my knees. I am fat, but empty. I have lost my way. I need to return to the stream.
The sky opened, raining on the grateful soul. The soul drank. It laughed, and sang, and danced. Turning around, the soul could now see the path it had taken…the path that had led it far from the life-giving stream. Now it returned, running back along the same path, filled with new purpose and increased desire.
As the exultant soul ran past the dining hall a few diners pressed their noses to the windows and watched, uncomprehending. Returning to their tables they prepared for yet another meal without anything to drink.
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