“For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants.” -Is. 44.3
Of this verse, the “good pastor” Robert Murray McCheyne once remarked:
There are no other words in the whole Bible that have been oftener in my heart and oftener on my tongue than these.
The passage applies directly to Israel, but the principle of the promise can be applied to all contexts where the Creator is active amongst men. Where the land thirsts for righteousness and mercy, and where men thirst for God in recognition of the dryness of their own hearts, the word stands true that He will “pour out water” from heaven, and His own interpretation of the image is that He will pour out His Spirit on our offspring, and his blessing on our descendants.
I would rather be found in the tension of spiritual thirst, without having yet seen the water to come, than to be drunk and satisfied with the wine of this age. I would rather be as a cracked desert ground, and aware of my dryness, than to be full of the delusion of self-satisfied living. To be able to thirst after God is a great gift from heaven. To yearn for Him in the barren wastelands is better than to be satisfied without Him in the man-made reservoirs of the city.
To be at ease and full without the outpouring of His Spirit is to live in a delusion. I may whittle away a lifetime without really thirsting, taking sips from fashion, swigs from sport, gulps from Hollywood, and guzzles from religion, and my life will end in deception. My children will have been robbed of a glory and knowledge of God that could have been theirs, had I been a man of thirst.
But I may live a life of thirst, and in my weakness, yearn for Him in the quiet places of the desert, and the promise will one day be answered. I know not when. I know not the hour of visitation. But the certitude cannot be shaken, for He Himself has declared it. He will “pour out water upon the thirsty land,” and my children will see something of His glory that they would have missed if I had settled for something less than God Himself.
If only the world knew of the glory of thirsting for Him! If only the Church weren’t so distracted and filled from the “buffet” that the world offers us and the busy mentality that modern “ministry” puts before us.
Though I have heard of His great love, and experienced it on many glorious occasions, it still staggers me that He longs to pour out His own Spirit upon us, and our children. It matters not that I’m a dry and cracked soul. In fact, that is the ground upon which He copiously pours out His holy rain. Oh, to live a life of anticipatory thirst. To ache for God Himself, until He comes and makes all things new. This is blessedness indeed.
Oh then wish more for God, burn more with desire,
Covet more the dear sight of his marvellous Face;
Pray louder, pray longer, for the sweet gift of fire
To come down on thy heart with its whirlwinds of grace.
Yes pine for thy God, fainting soul! ever pine;
Oh languish mid all that life brings thee of mirth;
Famished, thirsty, and restless, -let such life be thine,-
For what sight is to heaven, desire is to earth.
(Frederick Faber, as quoted in The Christian Book of Mystical Verse, compiled by A.W. Tozer; Christian Publications, 1963; pp. 56-57)
He will pour out water, dear soul. Thirst then! Thirst after Him…