What was the impetus for the water imagery in the book's title?
The imagery came out of the passage in John 7:37 where Jesus said, "If any man be thirsty, let him come unto me and drink."
I'm a pastor of a church, and I was noticing as our church was growing, people were busy doing a lot of things, but they looked as tired as people who didn't go to church. They just looked tired; they seemed so busy--you know, we have so many activities, good activities, things they wanted to participate in. And I realized at least in our church, a key segment of teaching had been neglected: the importance of receiving.
And the imagery of Jesus is that he can do for the soul what water can do for the body; he can go where it's cracked and flaky and dusty and he can bring nourishment; he can soften that which is hard. So I got really fascinated by this and began to experiment with it in my own life. I realize, when you drink, you don't drink one day a week for six days' worth. You know, you don't drink 3 or 4 gallons to get you through the whole week, but you take regular sips throughout the day.
And I've tried to develop a practice in my own life of receiving God's moisture and his nourishment, his fluid on a regular basis, taking Jesus literally at his word. It phenomenally changed my own life; I found that I wasn't anxious. I found that it was easier to forgive people, that I didn't have worries; I slept better. What I was doing was on a regular basis, receiving the basic gifts of God, his forgiveness and his drink and his presence. It really changed my outlook; that became a sermon series for the church, which became a book.
In a way, I think that what you're talking about is just good Christian spiritual practice.
Exactly. Uh huh.
Are you saying that you were not doing a spiritual practice?
I don't think I was. I was making the mistake of being a great doer, not a great receiver; very busy but not quenched. And the truth of the matter is, I've learned that you can't give what you've never received. There's no aquifer of love, there's no distillery of faith within me, so I have to receive it.
And this is one of the unique teachings of the Christian faith, that Jesus says that he is a living presence in the world today and that a person who gives their heart to him can tap into his power and then receive. Well, what does a person receive? In the book I try to crystallize these four gifts that God gives us-his work on the cross, the energy of his spirit, his lordship over my life-my day-to-day life, and then his love. And that's spelled "w-e-l-l" which works into a nice little acrostic.
So what I urge my people to do is on a regular basis, I mean literally three, four times an hour, offer a prayer that says, "Lord, I received your work on the cross. I'm forgiven. I receive the energy. The Holy Spirit is inside me. I come strong. I receive your Lordship. You're protecting me. Anything happens, it filters through you first and I receive your love because I can never outlive your love."
Three or four times an hour?
Or more, or more. It helps me to just keep that prayer in the back of my mind all the time. Some days I do well, and some days I don't. But you know, the Bible talks about praying without ceasing or living in a spirit of prayer, and it really keeps you connected to the source. To me, that's what it means to drink, come thirsty and drink.
You and I talked recently about that thirst, the need for the glory of adulation, and so many people do struggle with that. I wonder how that struggle informed the writing of this book.
What I've done--and I think it's a common mistake--is that I've tried to quench my thirst in well-meaning yet misguided ways. There's a passage in the Old Testament, in Jeremiah, where God says, "You have tried to drink out of broken cisterns." They don't hold water. It could be busyness, could be success, could be even another person. One of the things I discover a lot in marriage counseling is the husband or wife trying to get their spiritual thirst quenched by their partner; I think that's a real common mistake that we make.