The more I’ve sought God’s heart, the more I feel that I’ve misunderstood Him. His wild heart, I’ve tried to keep in a box and tame to my liking; His courageous and fierce love, I’ve tried to mute into mere kindness. I’ve tried to contain Him, control Him, and the more I’ve realized how big God is and how small sometimes we make Him, the more I see that I’ve only been drinking His free gift of the water of life. I haven’t been swimming in it.
In the Bible we aren’t really invited to “come and swim” in the gift of life - it would be a pretty weird invitation, one Jesus’ disciples would probably hear and just kind of look at Jesus. Swim? Really, Jesus? Why can’t you say something normal like ‘Come and live’ or ‘Come and drink of the water of life?’ And He does.
In John 4:13-14, He says, “Everyone who drinks of this [tangible] water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
He invites us to come, to come and drink, gulp it down if we need to, but I think that maybe in that invitation, He means something more. Maybe He means that after we’ve learned to drink a mere glass of His love, He’s going to teach us what His water looks like, tastes like, feels like, by pouring it out on us. Pouring it over us, around us, beneath us, behind us - showing us just how big of a God He is, that He can not only fill us, but fill every crevasse around us, every crack of brokenness within us. When we only experience His living water by drinking it glass by glass, it would be easy to begin to believe that God’s gift of life is small, and containable.
When we only experience God in our morning devotionals, or when we only seek Him on Sunday mornings, or when we only act like a Christian when the pressure isn't too much and the circumstances are ideal - these contain God. When we don't let Him into healing our brokenness and when we prefer to keep parts of our lives from Him - these minimize God. Or they attempt to - we still can never contain Him. He's always bigger than we know, than we remember. Sometimes we need to swim in it, to remember how free the pulsing waves of His love for us are.
And sometimes He’ll pour His living water out on us before we learn to drink it. This is what I’ve found to be one of the most beautiful truths about Him - when He holds out His hand with the water and invites us to come forth and drink, and when we’re too fearful or too doubtful or too ashamed to come to the throne of grace confidently (Hebrews 4:16), He invites us to taste and see how good He is - to swim in His goodness, to let Him love us, and love us freely.
The thing about going to drink a glass of water is that it is focused on the action of the receiver, who must go to receive, to grab, to drink. Every action is a choice we must make when we choose to drink of His life.
And while the go-getter mentality is necessary at times because sometimes we have to take initiative to receive His grace, sometimes He invites us to simply rest - to sit still - to let Him pour out His goodness on us and soften our hearts with His free gift, His free gift of abundant life. When we're weary and weak, we can still drink of His love as He submerges us in it.
In daily temptations to contain God and try to control Him, may we remember that His goodness is greater than we can contain, control or even experience - greater than we could consume, with more fullness in His life than we could ever drink of.
lives in Central Florida. She works as a children's ministry associate at University Carillon United Methodist Church and plays in the worship band on occasion. Last summer she spent time in India working with and ministering to students there.