Posted by: donnatallman | June 19, 2012

May I Have a Drink of Water?

(I wrote this post five days before fire broke out along the front range of Colorado Springs. This morning firefighters have evacuated the city of Manitou Springs, which I wrote about here – please pray for the state of Colorado)



Bees buzz, country & western singers twang, but guitars should never, ever thunk.

Photo by Phil Tallman

After tuning our guitar, I run through my age-old warm-up drill to be sure the guitar is good to go. It’s not. A Soulin’ tells me so. I learned Peter, Paul and Mary’s version of A Soulin’ from Mr. Nutting when I took guitar lessons from him in 9th grade, and I play it every time I pick up a guitar – any guitar. Why? I’m so familiar with how the notes should sound that if they are off, I know instantly. It’s my equivalent of how an auto mechanic listens to an engine idle after he’s tuned it. It’s not done until the engine hums.

Well, if the guitar don’t hum, it’s not done neither!

No humming here; this guitar is thunking. As I look it over, I see that the fret bars are out of alignment and the back has a slight bow in it that shouldn’t be there.

Oh, this is not good. So not good.

What happened?

We knew the move from the soggy state of Oregon to the dirt dry environment of Colorado would be an adjustment for all of us, but we hadn’t anticipated the shock it would be to our instruments – we’re a musical family so we have lots of them. We figured as long as they were inside the house away from the extreme temperature changes of winter and summer, they would be fine.

So not so!

Last night over dinner Sarah told us guitars must be properly humidified in order to survive the arid climate here in Colorado. She has a humidifier in her room to keep the humidity level between 45 and 55% at all times, and another one in her guitar case when she’s out and about. To understand the tremendous shock our guitars have endured…today’s humidity index in Portland is 100%. (Hmm, must be raining) At this moment in Colorado, the humidity index stands at 8%. Eight percent! It’s projected to be 98 degrees today with low humidity, high winds, and red flag warnings for extreme fire danger across most of the state.

Ack! No wonder our guitars are out of tune and completely useless; they are dehydrated! What a horribly expensive lesson to learn.

Early this morning I woke up thinking about Sarah’s description of instrumental “dehydration.” Bob and I often struggle with physical dehydration, so we’re familiar with its symptoms. Dehydration is a serious problem – especially when it’s hot, the altitude is high, or the climate is dry. As I thought about Sarah’s words, it wasn’t long before my mind wandered into the metaphor. Spiritual dehydration is just as deadly a threat to our inner life as physical dehydration is to our bodies, or low humidity is to musical instruments.

Being spiritually dehydrated will quickly warp our lives wonky pushing us out of tune with God and out of tune with one another.

Dehydration is deadly, but thirst is a gift from God. Just as hunger pangs tell us it’s time to eat, thirst sounds the alarm to let us know when it’s time to find water. Our thirst protects us. In the same way thirst for water protects our bodies, our thirst for God protects our spirits.

Scripture is loaded with passages that talk about man’s thirst for God:

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…” Psalm 42:1-2a

“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

“I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land.” Psalm 143:6

Photo by Donna Tallman

I enjoy the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John, chapter 4, because I love the power of Jesus’ message when he teaches in metaphor. After walking across the countryside of Samaria all day, Jesus grew tired and thirsty. While his disciples ran into town for food, Jesus sat down at the well to wait for someone to draw water for him. A Samaritan woman approached, and they began to have a conversation about water. What she didn’t realize, however, is that they were actually having two conversations at once.

The woman addressed Jesus’ desire for physical water to quench his thirst, but he responded in metaphor about her need for “living water” to quench the thirst of her soul. She was clueless. Jesus offered her living water that would forever satisfy her soul, and she wondered aloud how he would draw water out from the well since he had nothing to get it with.

Despite Jesus’ efforts to draw the woman out spiritually, he didn’t do so until he reached into her life prophetically. As soon as Jesus told her things he couldn’t have known, the woman instantly switched into a spiritually discerning gear. It was Jesus who had come to the well thirsty that day, but during his encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus rendered her thirsty for an intimate encounter with the living God. She was not disappointed.

Being physically thirsty draws us to the source of life – water. Being spiritually thirsty also draws us to the true source of life – Jesus Christ.

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’’” John 7:37-38

Last Saturday, our new friends, Jerry and Susan, wanted to show Bob and me around the city of Manitou Springs, Colorado. Located just outside Colorado Springs, Manitou is a MUST stop for all visiting tourists. Bereft of chain stores and restaurants, Manitou is delightfully unique. It is an eclectic mix of every cultured, uncultured, and counter-cultured person imaginable. Bob and I couldn’t wait to go.

Since we are still newbies to Colorado, Jerry and Susan picked us up for the trip into the city. No sooner had we hopped onto the I-25 freeway, than the storm cell above us exploded like a water balloon. This was not the minor nuisance of Oregon rain that simply spits here and there; this was a deluge. Water pummeled the windshield and pounded the pavement. If we’d been in Tennessee or Alabama I would have been worried about flash flooding.

It was an old-fashioned gully washer!

Realizing we’d be soaked if we walked the streets of Manitou in the middle of the monsoon, Jerry pulled in front of a quaint coffee shop in Old Colorado City to wait out the downpour. Susan and I darted for the door. In the midst of our dash to safety, I couldn’t help but notice that despite the wonderful life-giving water that was coming down, the ground resisted it. The cracked, dry, barren dirt along the roadway repelled the very resource that could give it life. Instead, the resistant dirt pushed the water off into the streets where it gathered momentum and flooded Colorado Avenue in minutes.

The oppressive heat earlier in the day was over, broken by a shower of cool refreshing rain. But instead of absorbing the life-giving water that offered exactly what the land needed to forestall drought and fire, the ground rejected it. It instantly blew it off. Strange.

Why is it doing that?

Too much at once after too long a dry spell. The ground couldn’t handle it.

What had Sarah said about humidity?

Keep the humidity level between 45 and 55%…

Ah, balance – not too high, not too low.

If I allow my spirit to dry out by ignoring God, it will become brittle and resistant to God’s life-giving “water” – his presence. Spiritually dehydrated, I won’t even be able to absorb a shower of his blessing because his Spirit won’t be able to penetrate the hardened exterior of my heart. My once tender and receptive heart will become just like the dirt along Colorado Avenue; repelling the very thing it so desperately needs. If I continue to neglect him, I eventually will lose my thirst for God altogether and turn to satiate myself with other things.

But God can restore! I believe that. Like faithful, consistent humidity restored Sarah’s guitar that had warped from the dryness, God can restore my spirit that warps during my own desert seasons. By staying consistently connected to the living God in spite of the climate around me, I can remain hydrated and healthy no matter what life throws at me.

“Then He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.’” Revelation 21:6

Lord, I desperately want my life to be tuned accurately to Your voice. May the music of my life reflect the harmony of my connection with You. Help me, Lord, when I endure those dry, desert seasons with little to no rain. Teach me how to stay “hydrated” when the journey gets too difficult and the challenges are overwhelming. Remind me, Father, to drink deeply from Your well that never runs dry so that I will never run dry.”

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:14

© Copyright, 2012 by Donna Tallman.




  1. Great insights! You used vocabulary words I didn’t understand, though….. I’m going to have to look up the word “dry”……….:) Hi to you and Bob from here in soggy “rain-land”!…….:) We miss you guys!

    • Thanks y’all. As I was writing, I realized it might have been years since I used the word arid!

  2. I agree with the writer of the response above…great insights! Also, that we miss you guys!

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