ibis - corkscrew swamp sanctuary
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” [John 4:13-14 (NLT)]

For a state that receives over 55-inches of rain a year, the words “Florida drought” seem an oxymoron. Nevertheless, southwest Florida is in moderate drought and the water in the swamp is receding at record pace. The dry down of the swamp concentrates fish into the shallow water that remains and they become easy prey for the wading birds. There is a feeding frenzy as hundreds of birds (and several alligators) gather to enjoy a virtual buffet table lined with fish, frogs, and crayfish. The water in the swamp sustains these beautiful birds and, when it evaporates, they will fly elsewhere. I watched in awe as the birds vied for spots in the diminishing lakes and thought about the importance of water.

About 60% of the human body is made up of water and every living cell needs it to function. It lubricates joints, regulates temperature, flushes waste, and carries nutrients through the body. We can last three weeks without food but we can last only three to five days without water (and as little as three to four hours in extreme heat). Once deprived of water, the cells and organs of the body start to deteriorate. Water in our bodies is the difference between life and death.

Jesus offers us living water and His water truly is the difference between life and death. The water in the swamp is not living water – with no springs, it’s really just a large cistern that collects rain and will eventually evaporate. When the water is gone, only some vultures eating the scraps will remain. The living water offered by Jesus is never-ending; it is poured out in all seasons and will never disappear. Unlike the birds, we don’t have to fight for our spot in the pond or, like the Samaritan woman, come to the well. All we have to do is ask for the living water of eternal life. One drink of His Holy Spirit and we’ll never thirst again.

I find it ironic that some of the last words spoken by the man who offered living water were, “I am thirsty.” [John 19:28] Dehydrated by the torture He’d endured, was it just His dry mouth that led to those words? Did He thirst for the end of His pain and suffering? Or did He make a final demonstration of His humanity by speaking words that showed how much he thirsted for fellowship with God? Let us gather at His table, drink deep of His love, wash in His forgiveness, and never thirst again.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. [Psalm 63:1 (NLT)]

As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? [Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT)]

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