This river is real. Not only is it real; it’s for right now. Yes, we read about it in the book of Revelation, in John’s description of heaven. Given that fact, one might assume that this river is something for us to exclusively enjoy in Paradise, once our bodies have been resurrected. Such as assumption would be wrong. Sixteen verses later in this same chapter, we read Holy Spirit’s invitation to drink:
“And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (v. 17). Notice it doesn’t say: “Let the one who is thirsty hang in there until he or she dies.” Nor does it say, “Look forward to someday when you can finally imbibe this supernatural water.” Nope. It says, “Let the thirsty one come and take.”
Our Savior, too, announced the promise of this river, while here in the flesh: “Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38, NKJV).
The next verse explains that He was passionately proclaiming the coming gift of the Holy Spirit. The river of the water of life is Holy Spirit. He flows from the throne of God, from the heart of God, into our thirsty hearts. He quenches our deepest thirst. He fills us with all the fullness of God. So full does He fill us, that we ourselves become channels of the river of life. Out of our inmost being this river begins to gush forth, bringing refreshing and vitality to all those around us.
At least, this is what happens if we respond to His invitation. If we will come, if we will drink, the infilling of the Holy Spirit will result in abundance. But first we have to heed His calling to us.
There is a physical parallel to this principle, that is very telling. Scientists inform us that once we actually feel thirsty, we are already dehydrated. They instruct us to be taking water into our bodies regularly, before we even experience thirst. The same is true with Holy Spirit. Once we get to the point where we feel parched, empty, and irritable, our inner being is sounding alarm bells telling us that we have neglected to imbibe that which is most vital: Holy Spirit’s water of life.
Let’s not wait until we are running on empty to take a delicious, life-giving draught of His Spirit. Let’s carefully listen for His calling. Let’s come to Him and drink… right now!
When you close your eyes, can you see the river of life with your mind’s eye? Do you hear Him calling? Will you come and drink?