A seminary student was about to graduate. He had earned a Ph.D. in Theology and his dissertation had received rave reviews from his professors as well as others in the theological community. He had offers to teach in a variety of schools around the country. All of this success started to go to his head, and he became quite arrogant. One of his insightful professors decided to give him a spiritual retreat as a graduation gift. This retreat involved the young man spending a weekend in a very secluded place with a spiritual guide who was there to direct his process. About half-way through the retreat, the spiritual guide noticed how arrogant the young man was and how he seemed to believe that he has God all figured out.
During one of the breaks, the spiritual guide offered the young man a glass of water. “Thank you. That would be wonderful,” responded the young man. The spiritual guide began to pour water into the glass that the young man was holding. Yet, the spiritual guide continued to look at the young man in the eyes seemingly oblivious to the fact that the level of water in the glass was rising and rising. Finally, the water level in the glass reached the top and began to spill out all over the young man’s hand and down onto the floor. Yet, the spiritual guide continued to pour. Finally, the young man could not stand it any longer and said, “Sir, the glass is full. You can’t put any more into it.” The spiritual guide responded by stopping his pour and said, “So are you. You are so full of your own understanding of who you believe God to be that I wonder how much room there is in your heart for what God would like to say to you today.”
Those of us who have been following Jesus Christ for many years can have times when it seems that our prayers are not going beyond the ceiling. These spiritual valleys are a part of the sanctification process and they help us to continue to strive for a deeper and deeper understanding of God. Like the Samaritan woman (John 4:4–26), Jesus offers each of us living water, with the result of drinking it being that we will never thirst again. Even though this living water does quench our thirst forever, we must continually seek to learn and grow as Christ followers. When we start to believe that we have God figured out, or we know all we need to know, we are headed for a spiritual valley. Jesus is aware of our past and present—just like He knew the woman at the well had five previous husbands and was not married to the man she was with at that time. Yet, Jesus offered her living water and shared that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 NIV).
Maybe some of the issues in your past or present make it difficult for you to experience the joy of the Spirit that only the living water can provide. Some individuals feel that the events of their lives, through their own actions or the actions of others, has put a hole in the side of their glass and the glass will only remain half full. Some individuals feel that it has been so long since they experienced the stirring of the Spirit that the water in their glass has become stagnant. Regardless of why you experience a spiritual valley, the answer is not in thinking you have God pegged, or in believing God has abandoned you. The answer is in the continual searching and striving for a deeper knowledge and understanding of all God would say to you today. Like the woman at the well, “Fill my cup, LORD.”