How many movies have I watched that included bar scenes? And how many cities and communities have watering holes? A lot.
I remember as a kid, riding in my mom’s old Chevrolet Impala. I called it the Blue Bomb. One evening, I looked out the window from the backseat noticing the number of cars parked outside of bars as we passed them. What do they do in there?
As a boy, I also wondered why they were called ABC stores. Ironically, it stands for Alcoholic Beverage Control. Interesting that C or the word “control” is part of the acronym.
My wife and I aren’t drinkers, but we enjoy a glass of white wine on special occasions like our anniversary or maybe the holidays. Riesling and Pinot Grigio remain our favorites. But it’s not something we “have” to have, like a lot of people I know.
When I worked in the corporate offices of an insurance company for seven years, it always amazed me when someone would come to my cubical on occasion and say, “The rumor is that you don’t drink.” Why would a non-drinker have to explain himself?
Whenever my wife and I make our monthly run to Hong Kong, a hole in the wall Chinese eatery in Chattanooga, I drive while she calls to place our take-out order. Upon arrival, I wait in the car while she goes inside to pick up our supper. Next to the Hong Kong is a liquor store.
I sit, observing people coming and going. Usually, people exit that store with one bottle, in a long, thin brown paper bag. Does it serve the purpose of hiding (?) booze, although it’s not strong enough to hold the weight of a heavy bottle? A lot of folks frequent that particular liquor store.
Back in the day, my grandmother, my father’s mother, used to be able to buy rum in the grocery store needed to make her delicious rum cake. But when it only became available in ABC stores, she quit making it, not wanting to be seen going in or coming out.
Everyone fills their life with some—“thing”. Whether it’s a stress reliever, one more drink to numb psychological pain, or a secret nook, no one “knows” about, the soul has one demand: It will be filled. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the wrong stuff that won’t even last until morning.
Jesus knew how thirsty peoples’ souls were, even though many ignored Him and searched for something else. I’m reminded of Ann Voskamp’s words, “Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other.” (One Thousand Gifts, 15)
When Jesus shows up in the early chapters of the book of John, He didn’t speak with an Obama type of eloquence. Verse 37 of chapter 7 says he “cried out” or as commentators report—he spoke in a loud voice. That itself was a huge change. Rabbi’s back then remained seated when they taught. Not Jesus, He stood and cried out loudly. And people cry out every day, but not with actual words necessarily, their lives and their faces say plenty. So Jesus speaks at a feast, offering the only solution to the human dilemma:
“Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” (NJKV)
He offered something different, salvation through Himself, a continual source of satisfaction. But how do you drink—Jesus? For me, I empty myself of sins, stressors, sadness and other slumps. The trash men in our neighborhood come every Wednesday morning. A lot of Catholics go to confessional weekly or monthly.
But that’s not enough for this old soul, plus Hebrews 4:14 tells me that Jesus is my High Priest. He is the only one I need to run to. And sometimes He allows me to be blown off track from west Texas wind type of circumstances caused by people, problems, pests, and other particulars—so that I will run to Him.
I need God every single day, again and again. So after emptying my trash in my journal and through the act of prayer, I’m better able to receive Jesus and His Words found in the scriptures, words which fill my soul completely, words which counter my crazy thoughts, thinking, troubles and other tumults.
Miraculouly, Jesus and His words satisfy. They will fill you up like nothing else can and nothing else ever will. He just wants you to voice three words: I AM THIRSTY.
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