It's tempting to act as if we don't need anything, or at least not anything we can't get for ourselves. It's hard for many of us to ever ask for help at all, or accept the help we need even when it is offered to us in love.
Anyone who has been stuck waiting at a city traffic light has probably seen the men who walk between stopped cars begging for money. They are out there in every kind of weather carrying signs handwritten in magic marker. Today, however, I saw a man with a very unique approach to panhandling. His sign didn't say anything about dependent children, military service, unemployment, or sobriety. His piece of torn brown cardboard read, "Why lie? I need a drink."
I'm not sure how much money this man collects by the end of his day, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who found his message more than a little jarring. Of course I could never knowingly contribute to anyone's self-destruction. But there was something strangely respectable about this man's willingness to admit that he planned to use any money he received to purchase alcohol. "Why lie?" indeed.
There is a whole lot of dishonesty going on in the world, and it isn't just found among beggars. I'm not so sure how many of us would be completely truthful if we were the ones writing our struggles on a sign everyone could see. And I wonder, too, how many of us might well misuse any help we received. I know that I have done so. But when that kind of inauthenticity becomes part of how we approach God, we're in real trouble. We've got to be humble enough to say, "I need a drink."
Strangely enough, those words don't just belong to an alcoholic beggar on Atlantic Avenue in Boston. They were also spoken by Jesus. "Give me a drink," he said to the woman of Samaria, as she came to the well in the heat of the noonday sun. And yet, she was thirsty too. "If you knew who it was who was speaking to you," he said, "you would have asked him for a drink, and he would have given you living water" (John 4).
We live in a world of thirsty people who don't really know what they are thirsting for or where to find it. Even when it's easy to admit that we need a drink, many of us find it just as easy to reach out for what will only hurt or destroy us. It's tempting to act as if we don't need anything, or at least not anything we can't get for ourselves. It's hard for many of us to ever ask for help at all, or accept the help we need even when it is offered to us in love.
But we don't have to lie about any of that. God already knows what we need, and when, and how, and why. He knows, too, that we have squandered much of what he's given us, and refused a great deal of what he has wanted to give us. Despite all of that, God gives more. He does not merely tell us where to find the living water that will quench every thirst; he pours it out for us in the chalice of his own redemptive blood.
So let our authenticity begin anew. Why lie? Lord, I am thirsty, and I need a drink. Sometimes I reach for things that can never slake my thirst. Sometimes, I throw what you give me back in your face, or politely refuse the graces you offer with a distant "no, thank you." Jesus, show me how to draw living water. Fill me. Create a spring that wells up to eternal life in my soul. And Lord, help me to bring others to you, too; others who need a drink just like I do.
JAYMIE STUART WOLFE IS A WIFE AND MOTHER OF EIGHT CHILDREN, AND A DISCIPLE OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES. SHE IS AN INSPIRATIONAL AUTHOR, SPEAKER, MUSICIAN AND SERVES AS AN ASSOCIATE CHILDREN'S EDITOR AT PAULINE BOOKS AND MEDIA.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and serves as a senior editor at Ave Maria Press. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.