Do you have any kind of exercise routine or do any kind of manual labor? Most of us do, right? And when you do, what is the most refreshing drink you look forward to? Sweet tea? Soda? Juice? Gatorade? Or maybe something that isn’t full of sugar like gatorade zero? You know, when I was a teenager, I’d help my grandfather on the farm, throwing hay bales for hours, and I’d then come inside and drink milk – no, I’d CHUG milk. My mom would always say, “That’s going to make you sick.” (It never did.) Funny and strange? Maybe. But it’s true. And I still love milk, but am I forgetting something? This may surprise you, but drinking water is most often the best (and cheapest) way to stay hydrated. 

But sometimes, we just crave something other than water. It’s not wrong to consume something else, but even though we may still enjoy juice or tea or milk, we still need water. We can literally not survive without it. 

But I want to spend a few minutes talking about a deeper thirst. A thirst for a place in this world. A thirst for purpose, meaning, hope, and joy. A thirst for identity. 

Definition: “the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.” So, what are we, exactly? How do we define ourselves? By our jobs – teachers, mechanics, custodians, workers in the food industry? By our association to other people – parents, spouses, colleagues, classmates, friends? How do YOU define yourself? Where do you find your identity? In what? Or, maybe… in whom?

The word ‘identity’ has been a topic of conversation for a long time. The word has made a resurgence in recent years, but the idea is not new – we want to know that we have a purpose – that we aren’t just some huge cosmic accident. We want to know that we’re valued, we want to know that we’re loved. We want to know who we are – and the only way to really know who we are is to come to terms with WHOSE we are. More on that in a minute…

First, though, a little more on how we TRY to define ourselves… how we TRY to find our purpose, to find hope and joy, how we try to find our identity. There’s an old country song called “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places”. We do that. You see, it’s one thing to live out or fulfill our purpose with certain people or in certain places, but it’s another thing to be defined by those people or places. 

What else? It can be tempting to find your identity in your college major – in your friend group, your hobbies…  You get the idea. But what’s so wrong with jobs, or majors, or friends, or hobbies?  Nothing. Just like there’s nothing wrong with drinking some milk or juice or tea. But our bodies still need water to survive. There’s nothing wrong with having these things. In fact, having healthy hobbies, good friends, etc really add to the quality of your life. Unless we try to run to them hoping they will fulfill us – that they will give us ultimate meaning… Unless we put them above everything else, and try to find our identity there… Unless we worship them. 

There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus was tired from His journey, and so He goes to a well to rest and to draw some water (this was before they had Gatorade). We pick up in John 4:7-11,13-14 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.[b] The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

We search all over the world to find a drink – to find a hobby, a job, a friend group, a drug, a relationship that will fulfill us – that will truly satisfy us. Yet, we keep coming up empty. Do you ever just go to bed just feeling empty? Whether you’ve had a good day or not, you just know that there’s something missing. There just seems to be this void that you can’t quite fill. You think to yourself, “there HAS to be more to life”.  

C.S. Lewis once said, “If within ourselves we find a void that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world”. 

Doesn’t it seem odd that so many people seem to have so much, yet they make the news for their attempts at self-harm, or worse? Some of us think, “That doesn’t make sense – they had so much money, or fame, or looks, a beautiful family, or athletic ability…” And while those are precious gifts, they won’t fill us if we don’t know the Giver of those gifts. While those are amazing points in our story, there’s still an emptiness if we don’t know the Author. 

Now, to be clear, I’m not saying you can’t be a kind person without Jesus. I’m not saying you can’t serve others well. I’m not saying you can’t have discipline, intellect, generosity, even ‘religion’. What I’m saying is that, if we’re honest with ourselves, no matter how hard we try to “be good enough”, there’s still a void. A void that nothing in this world can truly satisfy. To satisfy our thirst for identity, our thirst for purpose, we need a relationship with our Creator. For we can’t truly know who we are… until we know WHOSE we are…

Written by Steve Click