For most of his adult life, my very athletic friend has maintained a regular regimen of physical exercise. He told me the other day, “If I miss an entire week of exercise my body revolts in ways that create a sick feeling. My body reacts since it is used to experiencing a more significant physical engagement”. Danny ignited my imagination with the thought of my soul’s expectation for spiritual exercise. If I miss too often, does my conditioned soul suffer spiritual withdrawals?
David reminds us of our soul’s thirst for God. If our soul has been acclimated to a regular routine of hydrating on the living water of the Lord, any significant disruption can create a sense of soul sickness or nagging spiritual withdrawals. The presence of God is necessary to acquire peace for our everyday life encounters, so we daily seek the face of God. A soul longs for the Lord’s love.
“I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands” (Psalm 119: 131).
What does it mean to drink of God? I like how Henri Nouwen describes this divine exchange: “My hope is that the description of God's love in my life will give you the freedom and the courage to discover . . . God's love in yours”. The Holy Spirit fills up our cup of love in solitude and silence, so we can be a source of refreshing love as we pour into others. We empty our cup of love, only for Christ to fill us back up again with His infinite, faithful love. This ongoing process of filling and emptying restores our soul—being refreshed in silence, beside quiet, “still waters”.
Have a long term goal to seek the face of God each day as you grow your spiritual exercise routine. Don’t be discouraged if you infrequently stretch your spiritual muscles. Start with 2-3 times a week of stillness and solitude to drink in the love of your Lord Jesus Christ, so you can in turn pour love into another. Create an expectation for your soul to be cared for, so if you experience prolonged prayerlessness, you are reminded by inner groans for God. Spiritual withdrawals are meant to draw you back to the divine in loving communion. Stay thirsty for Jesus!
“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)” (John 7:37-39, NLT).