“Get away from the water!”
Ask any high school football player who played prior to just a few years ago and he’ll probably tell you he heard a coach yell, “Get away from the water!” more than once in his life.
Things have changed though.
There was a mandatory parent meeting at my son’s high school last night for the parents of the football players. One of the topics was hydration and heat related illnesses (heat exhaustion and heat stroke). None of it was new information for me because I’d heard much of it at the parent meeting for junior high football last year. And the year before.
My son’s junior high football coach is one of the toughest I’ve seen. He’s a great coach and excellent teacher of the game. He has high expectations of the players and pushes them to perform. But he also frequently stops practice for water breaks.
Last night, the head varsity coach made it clear that his players could get water during practice whenever they needed it. No player would ever be told he couldn’t have water. And if an assistant coach denied water to a player–he probably wouldn’t be coaching there any more.
When I played high school football between 1977 and 1980, the conventional wisdom was that drinking water was a sign of weakness. Going without water made you tough.
Now we know how absolutely stupid that kind of thinking is. Now we know football players die from becoming dehydrated and over-heated. And a coach knows they’d probably be sued by the parents of any player who became ill during practice because he was denied water.
Of course staying hydrated isn’t just for athletes. We all need water to function. A lot of us are probably dehydrated and don’t even know it. It’s especially true during the hot, humid summer months.
Much of the United States is currently experiencing high heat and humidity. That large pink area on the map is an “excessive heat warning.” The heat index for Ames, Iowa today is forecast to be around 117 degrees. Ames, Iowa. 117!
This is a plant in my front yard. It not only requires a lot of water, but it’s in a spot that doesn’t get hit by the sprinkler. This morning, I filled a 2-quart pitcher at the kitchen sink and watered this poor plant. I filled the pitcher twice. As you can see, it needed it.
It’s not too strong a statement to say: water is life. Ask this plant. Or my son when he starts football practice on August 1.
It’s not just water that’s life though.
In Deuteronomy 30, Moses is speaking to the nation of Israel just before he dies. He’s giving them their final instructions before they cross the Jordan River to take possession of the land God promised to give them. In verses 19 and 20, he said:
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
The Lord is your life.
It was true for Israel. It’s true for me.
And it’s true for you. The Lord is YOUR life.
In Jeremiah 2:13, God said it this way:
“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.”
A cistern is a receptacle to hold water. When we turn away from the source of living water, we naturally look for “water” (life) in other places. We try work, pleasure, relationships, possessions or anything else we can think of to fill our souls. What we don’t realize is that those things are broken cisterns. They can’t hold water. They won’t work. They won’t give us life.
Sadly, we will hear of a football player dying of dehydration and heat stroke somewhere in the United States this summer. His core body temperature will rise to 108 degrees and his internal organs will begin to fail. And it will be a totally preventable death.
Just like your death. Or mine.
Are we dying and don’t even know it? If we could examine our “spiritual organs”–would some of us find they’re shutting down? That we’re close to losing our spiritual lives and we don’t even know it’s happening?
I’m not even talking about heaven or hell. I’m simply talking about living life as it was intended.
You and I were created to live in an intimate friendship with the One who created us. We exist for His pleasure. And He commands us to seek Him and know Him and love Him. But we’re trying to find life in people and things who, like us, can’t provide it.
If we’re not drinking deeply of living water by spending time in God’s word and in spiritual conversations with others who are also drinking deeply, then we’re dying. We just are.
Maybe when you see your lawn turning brown or a plant wilted from lack of water or you think about all those football players out on the practice field this summer–you’ll let it remind you that your soul is in desperate need of the living water only God can provide and that His word is a constantly flowing spring. And that whether you feel it or not–you’re dying without it.