Spiritual Practices for Preaching
Quench Your Thirst: Lenten Reflections on John 4:15
"Give me this [living] water, so that I may never be thirsty" (Jn. 4:15). One of the medications I take for hypertension has as a side-effect, dry mouth and thirst. As a matter of fact, as I reflect on Lent, I am feeling thirsty right now! In a moment, I will be getting up to drink a cool glass of water, and how good that will be! Like an arid desert, I will bloom, once again renewed and refreshed.
Many pastors are running on empty, spiritually and emotionally. Like grass under the hot summer sun, they are near brown out. They believe, like the children of Israel, that they are wandering in an arid desert, when living waters flow all around them. We grumble and complain about not having enough time to pray or the daily distractions of the small tasks of ministry. We regret how far we have strayed from the joy we felt when we first recognized the call to ordained ministry or spiritual leadership.
We pastors need to discover a wellspring from which we can draw living water. We need to find ways to refresh our whole being—body, mind, spirit, and relationships—while maintaining our goal of faithful excellence in ministry. Sources of refreshment are all around us and within us, yet we often neglect dipping our cup in the well.
Today's reflection simply involves an "examen of conscience," a prayerful reflection (initiated as a form of spiritual direction by Ignatius of Loyola) on the events of your life. Take a few minutes for quietly opening to God, silently centering on God's presence in your life, a time of gratitude, and taking a few moments to reflect on your feelings about your life. Then, pause to consider a few questions about your spiritual life. These questions will help you discern the level of your thirst and inspire you to discover ways to find refreshment from God's abundant living water.
- What's the state of your refreshment today? Are you thirsty or satisfied? Or somewhere in between?
- What are you thirsty for? What things quench your thirsts?
- Where have you found living water in the past?
- Toward what wellspring is God drawing you?
- What tools (or practices) do you need to draw living water?
This morning, a little water quenched my thirst and refreshed my writing spirit. My dear friend Suzanne Schmidt and her business partner, Krista Kurth, have written a book titled, Running on Plenty at Work: Renewal Strategies for Individuals. That's what refreshment does for us; it renews our spirits like a cool glass of water, and moves us from scarcity to abundance in our personal and professional lives. What refreshes you? What gives you energy, inspiration, and hope?
In my life, I find refreshment from a quiet morning walk, morning meditation, and writing for the joy of it. I also experience God's living waters by losing myself in reading a non-academic text, spending re-creational time with my wife on a walk, over supper, and at a movie or play. I am renewed by playing with my grandchild.
Refreshment is just breath away. Living waters are all around. Drink deeply of God's wellspring of love and inspiration.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty one books, including Process Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. He may be reached at email@example.com for lectures, workshops, and retreats.