Water is our lifeline. In fact, most of the human body is made up of water. So, then, water is our lifeline because it is also a significant part of us.
Water is the molecular formula H20--meaning two hydrogen atoms for every oxygen atom. Hydrogen can, in theory, exist as a single atom--but in reality is found in the molecular formula H2. It quickly bonds with other atoms to produce various compounds. Meaning, it's quick to partner with other elements (except metals).
The other molecular component of water, oxygen, is required in all life forms as it is used in cellular respiration (with the odd exception). Cellular respiration, radically simplified, is the creation of energy and the release of waste at the cellular level. In other words, as far as the body is concerned, anything that is not producing power is waste. (More on this later, perhaps in another chapter.)
Water, the major constituent of fluids in living things, co-exists in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. Although there is an observable difference in their physical manifestations, all three forms are still water. We don't question this, but accept it as a natural (and scientific) truth.
So, we must drink water to live. We can collect potable water from springs and rivers indefinitely; its water is sourced from rock below the ground. (Lake water is potable and, despite their often large size, lakes are temporary bodies of water.) A spring is a small source which can sustain the individual and their family, or a relatively small community. A river, however, has greater capacity for renewal because it is vast.
It seems there is a spiritual significance here: water is metaphor for Holy Spirit. We know any branch which does not bear evidence of being connected to the water source will be cut off. Spiritually speaking, a spring must be differentiated from a river. A spring of water blesses you and those close to you; it is water within you which "wells up to eternal life." Perhaps this is accomplished through one's transformed life, or ability to heed God's word. A river of water, though, blesses others. This distinction was made during a time of feasting and celebration. Those who are spiritually dead are still invited to drink. But this invitation doesn't end at drinking for yourself. It is in the deeper work of yielding your heart to the Lord, that place of being transformed and corrected and loved, that rivers of living water may flow forth.
I imagine this as being stranded on a tropical island, surrounded by ocean. The hot sun is beating down on me, so I take a sip of ocean water. It's refreshing at first, but isn't really satisfying. Walking, I happen upon a table with multiple glasses of fresh water. Curious, I take a tall glass and drink it. Perhaps I had never known that kind of freshness, that pure, sustaining and living water, could even exist. So, totally excited, I drink down another glass. Then another. Then another.
Now I look up ad notice behind the table is a massive expanse of fresh water. I can't see where it begins, nor can I see where it ends. I also can't exactly explain with my human mind how it supersedes the ocean because all along I thought I was a self-sufficient individual on my own little island. But I now know the body of fresh water exists, and I want to get in so it can just consume me.
There's just one condition. I need to remove my dirty, sweat-soaked clothing before I get in. Doesn't matter how much of a good person I am. I still have to abide by that one condition. Many of us stop here because it's easier to either A) go in with our dirty clothes anyways and not come into the fullness of the blessing, or B) avoid going in altogether. Or, C) remember those lakes? Fresh water that won't last? I can even choose to go there. But its source is not rock, so its effects are temporary.
Perhaps we need to be reminded of the promise of restoration for our tired, weary souls. There's no special formula. All we have to do is call out to our lifeline.