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I pry my tongue from the pasty mire on the roof of my mouth. Parting my chapped lips, I heave in a breath of sultry air. Perspiration streams down my legs as I trudge across the parking lot. I struggle with a dizzy urge to hustle out of the August glare. My body cannot muster speed as it fights through the soupy haze. I hope my lungs don’t melt before I reach shade. I stagger through two sets of double doors. Freon-chilled air caresses my sticky neck and shoulders. The air conditioning fails to quell the nausea in my core or settle my reeling head. Shelves of empty vessels, soda concentrates, and coffee pods stare at me from the walls. Packaged beverage machines line the aisles. None can rescue my parched body. I need water. And there’s none here.

In our arid world, it’s common to stumble into the wrong places seeking water. When crowds stream toward a shady spot, it glimmers like a refuge mirage. The environment hooks our senses and draws us in. The diversion promises relief from the harsh elements, but indulgent comforts prove shallow. Hedonistic balms spritz an oh-so-temporary soothing over the outermost layer of skin. They vanish into thin air before reaching the burning need within. Pleasing the senses cannot quench the soul.

Some of us grope for chemicals, alcohol, or sex as a respite for inner thirst. But false relief can take more innocuous forms, too. Shopping, food, or other benign endeavors become toxic when misused as hydration. Like salt, good things offer benefit when used for the proper reason and in appropriate doses. When poured into our spirit’s well in place of living water, even good things can parch us to death.

On my dusty journey, I often feel the heat sapping my strength. Discouragement threatens to force my rubbery legs to give way beneath me. I gasp for some fresh breath to revive me, to help me plod forward another mile. Sometimes I want to go shopping or head to the spa. If I indulge my flesh instead of praying through my frailty, I end up with a mouthful of sand. Nothing satisfies. Disappointment adds to my emptiness. Then I remember the obvious. Only the Fountain of Life can refresh my spirit. When I feel least able to pray, that’s what I need most. Turning to Scripture and prayerful meditation draws me near to Christ. He fills the dry, empty caverns of my soul and quenches my deepest need. My hope renews, and I thank Him for His patience with me.

After our reviving moments together, sometimes the Lord encourages me to visit the spa or the mall. But we go together, sloshing with the threat of splashing passersby. Instead of seeking fulfillment there, I remain piped into the Fountain so I don’t miss an opportunity to share His love and peace with someone else.

 

“All my fountains are in you” (Psalm 87:10).

They feast on the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
 For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light” (Psalm 36:8-9).

High tide waves glide ashore. The foamy caress adds a kiss of salt to the sugar sand. Water and pristine beach glimmer together in sunbathed glory. Breezes carry the fresh hint of brine, a lovely scent for visitors to carry home in their hair. As the weary sun droops, visitors retreat to their cars. Waves recede by the hour. The water abandons its affair with the sparkling sand. The beach reddens as the evening bares its hidden layers. Low tide reveals its messy and broken elements. Dead matter lends itself to the wind, no longer a delightful aroma. A lone beachcomber searches through the seaweed tangles, believing this moment a prime opportunity to find the most beautiful shells. I prefer high tide moments. My faith glows like noon’s rays. I feel connected to and appreciated by others.  Endless possibilities shine around me. Purpose scents the air I breathe, and its fragrance blesses all passersby. I work harder, finish more projects, and smile. Happiness and motivation ebb as low tide hits. The hidden regions of my heart, mind, and soul rise to the surface. Brokenness and mess glare at me, demanding attention. I resent my odorous attitude, but must deal with the source of the problem to remedy the symptoms. Dealing with the litter looms as an impossible task to conquer alone. Thanks to my Helper, I don’t have to face the ordeal alone. The Holy Spirit combs through my inmost being. The Lord identifies the gunk stinking up my soul and helps clean it out. He also untangles the mess to illuminate my unrecognized treasures. Were it not for low tide, the latent needs and assets would remain underwater. Thank you, Lord, for creating value during the low points of life. I praise You for restoration, healing, and renewed purpose. Let my next bright day glorify You all the more.

“Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; 

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow…

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…

 Restore to me the joy of your salvation     and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,     so that sinners will turn back to you… Open my lips, Lord,     and my mouth will declare your praise.  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;     you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.  My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;     a broken and contrite heart     you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:7,10,12-13,15-17).

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;     he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted     and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him” (Psalm 34:17-19).

Bruise hollows deepen my eye sockets. Despite attempts at heat-styling, my locks frazzle. I slouch before the mirror and marvel at the unkempt stranger glaring back at me.

When darkness surrounds the eyes, the body sinks into shadow. Matthew 6:23 piques my interest. Drained strength correlates with grey-shrouded lids the way focus aligns with soul health.

When I immerse myself in others’ suffering for a unrelieved stretch of months, their pain seeps into my heart and flesh. An intense gaze into evil’s poisonous spell upon this world, though studying it to devise a strategy to conquer it, can also burden my thoughts.

Heart, mind, soul, and body need divine rejuvenation. Spiritual retreats call me into the living waterfall of truth. Healthy focus requires adequate light to stave off the inky tide of soul-night. Praise and scripture cleanse me. Music, prayer, and meditation soak my mind with uplifting, scentatstic bubbles. God’s presence heals and renews my spirit and its perspective. 

He calls me to work for His glory, but at times He also calls me to rest in His arms. I cannot do one in exception to the other. 

I love You, O Lord, my strength. Illuminate my eyes and revitalize my soul, O Christ my Redeemer.

What’s your prayer of renewal this Holy Week? 

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