“Mom?” Alix muttered over the phone. “I don’t think I can drive home. Can you come get me?”
“What’s going on?”
“I’m really shaky and having trouble breathing. My hands and legs are numb.”
“I’ll be there in a minute. Hang tight.” Tony and I rushed out the door leaving the rest of the family with more questions than answers. As we sped toward the Subway where Alix worked, I dialed 911 just.in.case. The ambulance arrived as we were pulling into the parking lot. I scrambled out of the car to the open van door, Alix sprawled in the back seat, perspiring profusely.
The paramedics asked questions, trying to assess her condition. What were her symptoms? When did they begin? They took her blood pressure. More questions. More assessments. Alix, disoriented and dazed, stammered through queries from all of us. She started cramping and feeling dizzy at work. No, she hadn’t eaten anything today. No, she hadn’t drank anything today. Her tongue felt thick, and she couldn’t enunciate. Her limbs felt numb. She was hot.
The paramedics suggested we transport her to the hospital for evaluation. They were definitely amenable to ferrying her there with all the bells and whistles for a fair amount of dollars, but given the tests didn’t appear to show anything life threatening, these sympathetic professionals gave us the ultimate decision. Minutes later, Tony zipped towards the hospital with Alix stretched across the seat, slurring and sweating.
I reminisce about events that occurred a year before when we received another phone call informing us that Alix had fainted at the pool. Sweltering heat. High humidity. No drink. No food. Yep, her hands and feet were numb then as well. A few years before that, she felt dizzy and disoriented by another poolside. The boiling temperature of summer, again. A pattern emerges. And before that? During a gymnastics choreography session, Alix, shaky, light-headed and sensing numbness in her limbs, was forced to stop. How many times had we told her? Stay hydrated. Even if you aren’t thirsty, drink!
And, this particular day? She hadn’t eaten a morsel all day. She scared us half to death, and now we careened around corners like Nascar drivers. Once in the emergency room, nurses plied her with questions and poked her arm for blood. The doctor tested her for this, that and the other, ruling out all types of diseases and conditions except for the one sitting in the back of my mind all along—dehydration. Yep, she inherited the propensity for this nagging condition honestly. With six dehydration fainting episodes in my lifetime, Alix threatens to pass me by like Secretariat blowing past Sham in the Kentucky Derby. And, it’s all due to the dilemma of not consuming enough liquid.
Much like my physical thirst, I must cultivate spiritual thirst. So often, I’m not thirsty for God. I want to drink at other wells: social media, shopping, television, friends, books or ministry. I expect these items to fill me up, but they, like drinks substituted for water, only temporarily satiate. While coffee, tea and soft drinks are certainly tastier than water, if I drink them excessively and exclusively, they can cause dehydration. Lack of adequate fluids can cause serious repercussions and just might land a person in the hospital emergency room. However, if I replenish with the real deal, I quench my thirst and don’t require the poor replacements. Similarly, when I seek fulfillment through other avenues instead of filling up with Him, my energy wanes, and I face spiritual dehydration. I need refreshment from the Life-giver.
How do I change my taste buds and develop a thirst for that which is refreshing and reviving? How do I exchange my desire to quench myself by stalking friends on Facebook, consuming a thrilling page-turner or serving in a motivating ministry? Even ministry can deplete our reserves when we seek fulfillment there rather than relationship with our Creator. Sooner or later, we will crash and burn. Many recognize this yet continue to drink from draining sources. In light of this, what are ways we can build our thirst for Him?
Drink Deliberately. Just like pushing myself to down water, I purposefully study God’s word. The more I do this, the more it becomes a habit, like brushing my teeth or fastening my seat belt. When I miss my minutes with God, I wonder what He had planned to reveal to me that day. Depleted of my reviving resources, I fail and fizzle out in managing my time wisely, treasuring relationships and handling household responsibilities. My water intake affects my energy output in the same manner my deliberate devotion does.
"...Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)
I wish I could say I’ve conquered my thirst problem. I fully intend to order water at restaurants, but when faced with the temptation of a big glass of iced tea, I cave. So many times, I succumb to my craving instead of what will truly invigorate. Still, I am working on it. Being aware of my tendency to become easily dehydrated propels me to choose healthy habits more often. In the same way, I gravitate towards the God who can refill and refresh me to overflowing so that I have unlimited supply to spill out in my home, ministry and community.
Drink deeply; He is the spring that will never run dry!