As we look at this next section of the Inside Out book, by Dr. Larry Crabb, we will be focusing on how to understand the living water that Christ promises in John 4:10,14 and John 7:38. Where it comes from and how to get it.
Dr. Crabb opens chapter five with a funny story that I will paraphrase and condense here:
A man came to a counseling session and said, “I want to feel better quick.”
Dr. Crabb replied, “I suggest you get a case of your favorite alcoholic beverage, find some cooperative women, and go to the Bahamas for a month.”
The man stared, “Aren’t you supposed to be a Christian? Your advice doesn’t sound very Biblical.”
“It’s the best I can do, given your request. If you really want to feel good now, then I don’t recommend following Christ. Immoral pleasures and vacations will work better for you in the short run.” (See page 97 for the story in its entirety).
Dr. Crabb says, "Preachers all across America are building huge congregations on the promise of unblemished happiness now....The biblical writers see things differently. Faith is required.... Hope for a better day is all we can cling to in those honest moments of facing life's disappointments." (p. 98)
"Most of us would like to believe that personal comfort and spiritual commitment define the abundant life Jesus provides.... (But) Jesus gives nothing to the person who wants what He does not provide." (p. 99)
A "nagging emptiness" persists, even in the midst of life's pleasures and the best relationships with others. (p.100)
"When our Lord promised to supply us with living water, He told us the springs would flow from our innermost being. The word translated innermost being—or, in some versions, belly— refers to a hollow place located centrally within us. Another meaning of the same word is appetite." (p. 101) (I have to wonder if that is why we overeat. see Proverbs 23:2)
"We were designed to live in relationship with Someone unfailingly strong and lovingly involved who enables us to fulfill the important jobs He assigns....Nothing can satisfy our crucial longings except the kind of relationship that only God offers. (p.101)
Dr. Crabb breaks it all down for us on page 109:
- We are thirsty people who long for: physical comfort (casual longings), good relationships with people (critical longings), and the joys that only a relationship with God provides (crucial longings).
- Christ has not promised to meet either our casual or critical longings…
- He has promised to satisfy our crucial longings, but… (it) is only a taste. The banquet comes later. We will therefore still ache for more than what we have.
- Disappointment is a chronic reality for the self-aware Christian, for at least three reasons:
1. The complete joys of God will not be ours until heaven.
2. No relationship on earth is perfect. We will therefore be disappointed in our critical longings.
3. Fallen people naturally (but wrongly) depend on sources other than God (money, well-behaved children, warm churches, loving mates, successful careers) for satisfaction of their crucial longings. In so doing, they add to their necessary groaning the acute pain of frustrated demands (for example, ‘You must not leave me!’), which creates bitterness, fear, self-reproach, and depression. (see page 109 for full outline)
Our next step involves freeing ourselves from our “self-centered preoccupation with the frustration of our longings so that real love of God and others becomes possible. Learning to enter into the disappointing realities of life” will be covered in the next chapters. (p. 110)
If you are like me and wanting to get to the end of the book to find out all the answers to life. Stay tuned.