Thirst - JJ Landis
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Skydiving was never on my list of dreams. Okay, I had no list when I was in my young adult prime. I ambled through each day, tackling life as it came. If you would have asked at any point during my first 20 years, I would have said, “No way do I want to jump out of a plane.”


My addictive behaviors were probably symptoms of my discontent with myself. I didn’t like the way things were going so I threw myself into whatever came along (men, drugs, hobbies) looking for an easy fix, the shining star that would lead to a satisfaction. I was absorbed by the façade of the good life and searching for fulfillment was a pastime.


In my incessant quest for honey to sweeten my existence, soon after my 21stbirthday, I agreed to join some friends in a skydiving venture. I figured it to be a new way to get a rush. Not a lot of people I knew had ever jumped from a plane. When friends and coworkers heard what I planned to do, they reacted with shock, excitement, warning, jealously. I savored the attention.


On a blindingly bright and still Saturday morning, four of us gathered at a rural airport for our instructions on the accurate way to throw oneself from an airplane. Come to find out, it’s not as easy as simply jumping out the door! The first order of business was handing over a hundred bucks and then signing away all of our legal rights to sue if we would become injured or be killed.


Next we congregated in a make-shift classroom in a converted house trailer and learned how to steer, land, hang from the strut before “jumping,” use the backup chute, and a lot about physics (how a body would obliterate upon impact if the chute and backup chute refused to behave, stuff like that).


I had eaten no breakfast that early morning and was ravenous when the class broke for lunch. Our little gang drove to a nearby fast food restaurant for burgers and then returned with full bellies to the airport for more training before our jumps.


I was relieved and pumped full of adrenaline when it was finally my turn to take off in the small plane with no door, ascend to 3,500 feet, and then plunge myself toward the ground. My dive was textbook perfect (that’s right, nailed it). I landed in the small white square near the runway on my feet!


By the time our whole class had jumped, several hours had passed. Exhaustion was setting in from the long day in the sun and the emotional ups and downs from the fear, excitement, and relief that accompanies skydiving. My mouth was dry, my legs were wobbly. My head hurt. I had had nothing to eat or drink since my bacon double cheeseburger at lunchtime and it was approaching evening. I didn’t feel hunger, but thirst overwhelmed.


We were in the middle of Indiana farmland, at a small airport with a grass runway that offered no commercial air service. There was no running water anywhere and no bathroom, just a port-o-potty. My thirst accelerated until I was lightheaded. I am sure other factors from the day attributed to my malaise. I was miserable by the time we gathered in the trailer to debrief.


My thirst was so distracting, I could not concentrate on what the instructor was saying and asking.
But then, I saw on the windowsill a paper cup with a straw poking out. I had no idea where the cup had come from, whose it was, how long it had been there.


I sneaked over to the window and grasped the cup like it was a gilded chalice containing healing elixir and sucked down the melted ice water mixed with a remnant of cola through the straw. The cloudy, tepid beverage slid into my body and revived me for the time being.


I have not been so thirsty, before or since. I swallowed the only water I could find to nourish my body. My only goal in the thirst was to find water for sustenance.


And yet, there was my soul and spirit, just as dry, leading me and directing me, pushing and pulling, along unhealthy pathways. I needed something to sooth, sustain. Jesus Christ was offering me clean, ice water, pure and clear. It flowed endlessly from a life-giving waterfall, but I continued to choose the dirty, diluted drink from a paper cup that had been abandoned on a dusty windowsill in the middle of a cornfield.
When we thirst for God’s goodness, when we seek Him, we will find Him. The Bible says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

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