Content But Never Satisfied

Sunday, October 21, 2018

A few weeks ago I was working in my flower garden and dug down to a pocket of water. We've had so much rain lately that the water hasn't had any place to go, so it's pooling into the hard, clay ground. The water was dirty and stagnant, yet my cat proceeded to lap it up. Judging by the gross state of the ground water and the rate at which he drank it, you would think that I had deprived this cat of his fresh water supply. But when I went inside to check, his drinking dish was filled to the brim. Clearly my cat is an opportunist. Or constantly in a state of survival.

I've been reading the book of Jeremiah lately, and this incident reminds me of a passage that I keep being drawn back to:

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water" (Jeremiah 2:13).

At first glance, this passage makes it sound like the Israelites are like my cat, abruptly abandoning their water source in favor of what's readily available. It seems like the Israelites one day went to the spring, looked at the water, and thought, "Nah. I'm good." But I can't help but to wonder whether abandoning God was much more subversive than this. Usually these things happen gradually rather than instantaneously.

Maybe the Israelites became complacent about their water supply first. Maybe they drank from the spring and, instead of thirsting for more and more of God, they became satisfied. Maybe they assumed that they had their fill and then slowly cut back from the supply. Maybe they were satisfied with that one big gulp they had in the beginning and felt no urgency to return for more.

Or maybe I'm projecting, because this is a pattern that I find myself in: being satisfied with that one amazing moment I had with God and becoming complacent about vigilantly returning to him.

We deceive ourselves when we think that we only need a little bit of Jesus to be satisfied.

We take one big gulp of Jesus and then move on with our lives, seeking out water from other sources. We have that one emotional encounter with God during worship, that one breakthrough during prayer, that one period of growth through adversity, and then we move on with a shallow sense of satisfaction.

Every time we think about our relationship with God, we pull up that "one time" in our minds and leave it at that. I had that amazing time with God last month, we think, so my relationship with God should be good for at least a little while longer. We put these little intermittent experiences on reserve in a water bottle and then seek out other sources of contentment.

But Jeremiah tells us: "Now why go to Egypt to drink water from the Shiloh? And why go to Assyria to drink water from the River? [...] You will be disappointed by Egypt as you were by Assyria" (Jeremiah 2:18, 36).

We can find fulfillment, even contentment, from these brief encounters with God, but they should never leave us satisfied. We shouldn't put them in a water bottle, ready to be picked up whenever we want to feel good about where we are with God. These moments of growth should make us thirstier for God's presence; they should stir our hearts to seek God's kingdom more vehemently. We should never be satisfied drinking from a water bottle when we can go directly to the source.

We can be content with how much we've matured, but we should never be satisfied with the state of our relationship with Jesus.

My prayer as I read through the book of Jeremiah has been that God would chase away my proclivity for complacency. I want to be content with the spiritual growth that is taking place, but I never want to become satisfied with where I am. I want to grow more and more as I keep returning to the only Spring who gives new life.

Toss that water bottle. Keep showing up thirsty. He will never run dry.

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