In 1996, a young US marine corporal named Joey Mora was standing on a platform of an aircraft carrier patrolling the Iranian Sea. Incredibly, he fell overboard. His absence was not known for 36 hours. A search and rescue mission began, but was given up after another 24 hours. No one could survive in the sea without even a lifejacket after 60 hours. His parents were notified that he was “missing and presumed dead.”
The rest of the story is one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” events. Four Pakistani fishermen found Joey Mora about 72 hours after he had fallen from the aircraft carrier. He was treading water in his sleep, clinging to a makeshift floatation device made from his trousers — a skill learned in most military survival training. He was delirious when they pulled him into their fishing boat. His tongue was dry and cracked and his throat parched.
Just about two years later, as he spoke with Stone Philips of NBC Dateline, he recounted an unbelievable story of will to live and survival. Who would not give up? He said it was God who kept him struggling to survive. The most excruciating thing of all? Joey said that the one thought that took over his body and pounded in his brain was “Water!” [NBC Dateline: Nov. 1998]
This story reminds me of the line from Rime of the Ancient Mariner, “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.”
Our lives are thirsting for more,when we are swimming in a sea of abundance.
How Do We Satisfy the Thirst Within?
“God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” – St. Augustine, Confessions.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? – Psalm 42:2
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. – Psalm 63:1
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings – Philippians 3:10
We are spiritual beings. We have longings that cannot be filled by the accomplishments, the entertainments, and the accolades of this world. We are spiritual beings, and our lives are shaped by that which we cannot see. The apostle Paul reminds us that the “seen” is temporary, but the “unseen” is eternal. Yet, our spiritual lives are often neglected. The urgent has trumped the important. We are thirsty and yet everything around us cannot satisfy.
Nearness to God brings freedom, fullness, and glory. (John 8:36, Col 2:9-10, 2 Cor 3:18) Why is it that we experience so little of this in our daily lives? Maybe we have actually become too satisfied with too little.
The Importance of Spiritual Formation
Spiritual formation is about giving attention to the direction, development, and depth of our spiritual lives. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Spiritual formation is about discovering that abundant life and pursuing the One who offers it. We are active participants. God calls us to seek him. Ken Boa in his book Conformed to His Image says, “(Spiritual Formation) is a journey of the spirit that begins with the gift of forgiveness and life in Christ and progresses through faith and obedience. Since it is based on a relationship, it is a journey with Christ rather than a journey to Christ.”
It is about transformation and the pursuit of God. Dallas Willard reminds us, “The path of spiritual growth in the riches of Christ is not a passive one. Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning. Effort is action. Earning is attitude. You have never seen people more active than those who have been set on fire by the grace of God.”
It is about reclaiming the life that God designed and desires us to live.
Spiritual Formation is about pursuing Jesus, who said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”
How thirsty are you?