For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17 (NLT)
To experience a satisfied life is to experience the peace that Scripture says transcends— meaning it is beyond—human comprehension. To experience contentment is to experience joy that Scripture calls unspeakable—meaning it is something so amazing inside of you that cannot be adequately described.
It is human nature that once you have experience the best to want more of it as often as it is possible to get it. When the love and power of God is at work in your life, there is the pure desire to experience it all the more. Pure desire means that it permeates through the core of our human spirit, impacting even your natural selfish desire to the point that you “naturally” want more for your life of what God desires for your life. Recovery God’s way becomes less of a “have to” and more of a “want to” as the most sensible thing to pursue and do, with the opportunity for the greatest reward. You become compelled by the love of God in your life to go after His best in your life, in the lives of others and in the world.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6
If an alcoholic says, “I’m thirsty, can I get something to drink?”, and you offer him a glass of water, he’ll tend to be rather ungrateful. He had something else in mind. The alternative was unacceptable. What he believes will quench his thirst will not in fact satisfy him. He’s been conditioned to believe (irrationally) that the only thing that will quench his thirst is something much stronger than the water you gave him. Even though the water was far healthier for him, he is left wanting more.
Jesus had an occasion to address the needs of a woman at a time when he initially asked her to address his desire to have his thirst quenched. Look at the story from John 4:3-15.
3 So (Jesus) he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”
8He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. 9The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” 11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” 15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
Where was here for this woman from Samaria? The obvious answer is that here refers to the well where this conversation is taking place.The woman still could not see past the circumstance of feeling thirsty for a drink of water.
Jesus went on (John 3:16-26) to identify the here for this woman. He deftly pointed out to her that she needed validation from the men in her life. She’d had five husbands and was living with a sixth man who was not her husband. Jesus engaged in dialog with the woman about worship. You see, it is what we hunger and thirst for that we actually worship; what we honor with our time, energy, and money. The woman talked about the tradition and religion of her worship rituals, but Jesus was not talking about that. Her religion instructed her about the law of Moses, yet she did not find adequate satisfaction and contentment in her religion. She had come to believe that her satisfaction was in the way she was validated by those men in her life.
What the woman had come to believe brought her satisfaction only left her disappointed and dissatisfied. Jesus essentially said to her, “If you only could catch what I am communicating to you, it would radically transform your life and you would not need to jump into one unhealthy dysfunctional relationship after another with others that have their own issues regarding thirst.”
Like the woman, if you hunger and thirst according to our naturally selfish desires and ambitions you will come up short every single time and live a very discontented life. You can even be someone who believes in God for your eternal salvation but willfully choose to walk a balancing act between recovery God’s way and “recovery” your way, and struggle everyday, dabbling in the experience of God’s peace and joy while engaging in the battle of selfish addiction, made worse by the occasional taste of God’s goodness. Made worse because the occasional taste of God’s graciousness in His peace and joy leaves you that much more dissatisfied, longing and yearning for what you are missing and not finding in your selfish pursuits.
Jesus tells us that if we truly knew what he is offering concerning this living water he offers, we would not hesitate to ask him for it. The living water of God is his gift to us that is given by Jesus Christ. As you receive this gift into your life, you will not thirst. To stray from the will of God is to reject his gracious gift. When we ask God for selfish things from the water contaminated by the world from selfish motives we are not asking for this gift of living water, and so we won’t receive it. Rather, we will chase after the contaminated things as we perceive that God did not respond to us. When we turn to Jesus when we’re thirsty, the pure unpolluted living water of God rushes in with such fervor that we cannot fully contain it. Scripture says that rivers of the living water God will flow out from within us and gush all over those we interact with. Others will get wet with the goodness of God as it pours and splashes from the bounty of God coming out from within us.
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38 (NKJV)
Be not drunk nor filled with the fruit of this world, but be full of the fruit and living water of God. Allow Jesus to fill your body, mind and soul with His peace and joy. Ask Him to fill you with the fruit of his Spirit. This is in fact the secret of living this sweet life of recovery. Thrive in your recovery. When God makes you a promise, you can know with absolute certainty that He is good for it.
There is a gateway to satisfying peace and joy, and a gateway to selfish pleasure with a hidden trap door to dissatisfying guilt, shame, failed expectations, rejection, loneliness, falling into hopelessness with no way out in the end. So there are two gates, and you will choose every moment of everyday which gate is for you today; right now. One gate is to certain death, and one gate is to life today and always. Choose wisely; choose rightly.
Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:9-10 (NLT)
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:11 (NLT)
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
10 How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn’t have the chance to help me. 11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT)