As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. – Psalm 42:1–2 (NIV)
After three trips to Colorado Springs, elevation 6,035 feet above sea level, I’ve learned to drink a lot of water.
The first time I went it was winter, and the air was drier than at other times of the year. My eyes burned for the entire writers’ conference. Just walking from my classroom to an editor’s appointment left me gasping for breath. Now when I’m in Colorado Springs, I carry eye drops, pace myself when walking, and drink at least 64 ounces of water a day.
Sixty-four ounces is a lot of water, you say. At that altitude, the air is thin and dry. Thin, meaning less oxygen than I’m used to breathing here at home in Smithport, elevation about 1,800 feet. So to get the oxygen I need, I’m taking more breaths.
The higher altitude also means lower air pressure, which causes moisture to be wicked away from my skin and sucked from my lungs with each breath faster than here at home. And since Colorado Springs ranks thirty-third in the top 101 U.S. cities with the lowest average humidity—at 51.9 percent—I’m not getting a whole lot of moisture in the air I breathe.
On her “High Altitude Living” website, health writer Laura Wheeler notes that “at 6,000 feet above sea level, you exhale and perspire twice as much as you do at sea level,” which “can make a difference of a quart or more (of water) a day.” Whether or not I realize it, when I’m in Colorado Springs, I’m breathing more, perspiring more, and losing more body water. And if I don’t drink enough water, I’m going to get dehydrated.
The funny thing about dehydration is that, unless you know the effects of high altitude on the body, you don’t even realize what’s happening and pass off the headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness and nausea as a bug or travel lag. Folks have been known to collapse and be rushed to the hospital, where they were back to normal after receiving much-needed water.
Just as my body needs water, my soul needs God.
Jesus illustrated our need for Him when He told the Samaritan woman at the village well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I give him will never thirst” (John 4:13–14).
When I take time to drink of the water He offers—by spending time talking to Him, listening to Him, and reading and meditating on His Word—my flagging, life-dried spirit is refreshed and revived. When I need rest, He leads me to green pastures and quiet waters. When trouble abounds, He’s right there with His rod and staff. When the way is dark and fearsome, He guides and comforts.
Are you spiritually dehydrated? There’s plenty of water to refresh and revive your soul. All you have to do is come.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you . . . in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1 NIV). Amen.
Special-Tea: Psalm 23; John 4:6–14