Stephen said to the people, the elders and the scribes: ‘You stubborn people, with your pagan hearts and pagan ears. You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do. Can you name a single prophet your ancestors never persecuted? In the past they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have become his betrayers, his murderers. You who had the Law brought to you by angels are the very ones who have not kept it.’
They were infuriated when they heard this, and ground their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘I can see heaven thrown open’ he said ‘and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ At this all the members of the council shouted out and stopped their ears with their hands; then they all rushed at him, sent him out of the city and stoned him. The witnesses put down their clothes at the feet of a young man called Saul. As they were stoning him, Stephen said in invocation, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and said aloud, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them’; and with these words he fell asleep. Saul entirely approved of the killing.
They people said to Jesus, ‘What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do? Our fathers had manna to eat in the desert; as scripture says: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus answered:
‘I tell you most solemnly,
it was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven,
it is my Father who gives you the bread from heaven,
the true bread;
for the bread of God
is that which comes down from heaven
and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said ‘give us that bread always.’ Jesus answered:
‘I am the bread of life.
He who comes to me will never be hungry;
he who believes in me will never thirst.’
Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst
What happens when our body is dehydrated? According to research, we can get by a few days without food, but not quite without water. Water is crucial for our body to function, as it makes up roughly 50%-70% of our body weight. Did you know that as little as a 1% dehydration rate can adversely affect our mood, attention, memory and motor abilities?
What happens when our hearts are ‘dehydrated’? Do they not share the same effects as a dehydrated body? Without the presence of God, do we not feel lost and out of kilter, unfocused without a higher purpose to strive towards? Do we not feel weaker in will because we lack the faith in something bigger than ourselves? Without God to depend on, don’t we feel bitter, angry and depressed; and, in our bitterness, do we forget gratitude for the things that have gone well for us, for the present blessings that come our way daily? Do we not feel like we are running around in circles, or stagnant in our lives, stuck in our victim mentality, refusing to move because we are too much in a “woe is me” situation? This is what ‘spiritual dehydration’ does to us.
Our fasting during the Lenten period was a metaphorical reminder to us of what it could be like to go through life without God. The more we remove food from our lives, the more we seek it and, due to its scarcity, the more we appreciate it. We hungered during our fast, yet God sustained us by answering our prayers for strength. When we empty ourselves fully and sincerely, only then are we able to receive Christ in full measure.
I am a sinner, and God knows my trespasses, as He does yours. Yet, He offers us the waters of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, the spring of everlasting life. My soul thirsts for the Lord, though I have sinned. Yet for those of us who have sinned, is not our thirst for the Lord great, like a deer who thirsts for water? And is not God’s ‘thirst’ to save us as strong, if not stronger than our thirst for Him? Jesus, the font of Life, asked a Samaritan woman for a drink – a woman who belonged to a race that had a long-standing opposition to the Jews, who had had many husbands, yet was unmarried to her current one. She was searching, just as we are, for the way and the truth, and Jesus was offering it to her, in exchange for her thirsty heart.
Let us hold out our hearts to Jesus, and ask the Lord to fill our cup to overflowing; empty out our hearts to follow Him, like a desert that lies barren to the sun and the wind, with the knowledge and faith that in its place, He will transform our hearts into an oasis of greenery, one that will thirst no more.
(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)
Prayer – Lord, You are the fountain of Life, the unending waters that will wash us clean and quench our thirst. Lord, may we seek You always, that we may hunger or thirst no more.
Thanksgiving – Lord, though I am unworthy, You still offer me the cup of Life. Thank you for thirsting after my heart though I am a sinner.