You may have noticed I haven’t written on here in a while. I haven’t been on social media much lately. I’ve posted maybe 8 times in the last two months and most of those posts have been in the last two weeks. I’ve gone weeks without even pulling up those little apps. I didn’t set out to fast from these things as I headed into Lent. It just sort of happened…
As God was speaking to me through my Lenten journey there were moments I’d think, “I need to blog about that.” But every time I felt God saying to me, “Let’s just keep this between us for now.” And so I did. In the process I also freed myself up from the connection with the social media world, along with some of the day-to-day busyness with which I can fill my life. I needed to disconnect from the things that distract me.
Part of it is in the last few months I’ve been dealing with some personal things (call it a midlife crisis 😉) that are taking a lot out of me. These are things that the working through will be good in the end, but man, it is draining work. And because I’ve been so focused on these things and the work involved mentally and emotionally to keep at it, I needed to dial down the noise. I need to back off and hunker down a bit. And so I sort of went off grid without planning to.
The term off-the-grid (OTG) can refer to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities. Off-the-grid homes aim to achieve autonomy; they do not rely on one or more of government water supply, sewer, gas , electrical power grid, or similar utility services.
Off grid living is a growing movement in which people are seeking to disconnect themselves from reliance on public utilities in their day-to-day living. One of the best definitions of going off-the-grid I read was this, “Going off grid means not involving or requiring the use of mainstream sources of energy.”
Not involving the use of mainstream sources of energy.
This definition made me think of what I rely on for my main source of energy… where do I go to source my belief of myself… my sense of value, worth, fulfillment, meaning?
In this season of doing some hard personal work, I’m realizing the value of going off grid. The things I am working through in my life and in some significant relationships are causing me to decide what we will I believe about myself… who I am and the narratives I will choose to allow to define me. I am paying attention to the places I tend to use as my go to for wholeness and fulfillment. I’m evaluating the sources from which I draw my worth and meaning. And so as I entered into the thick of this work, I decided it might be good to disconnect from the sources of influence that might not be pointing me to the truest place of self. I needed to sift through and begin to quiet the voices that aren’t speaking to me the true narrative of who I am and where I actually find meaning in life.
As I thought of this going off grid metaphor, my mind thought of another woman who went off grid. But this woman was off the grid for a different reason, because others wouldn’t associate with her. Her many marriages and current living situation with a man who was not her husband made her a woman of ill-repute, a woman with whom other women wouldn’t hang out. And so she found herself going to the well to get water at the hottest time of the day, when no one else was there… except on this one day, she discovers a man sitting there, a Jewish man.
He asks her for a drink of water. Shocked that this Jewish man would ask her a woman AND a Samaritan (with whom Jews DID NOT associate) for a drink, she points out the unspoken faux pas of this moment, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
As if Jesus was hoping for such a response he completely shifts gears and dives deep… “Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask him, and he would give you living water.'” John 4:10
Living water. This image refers to running water, water in a stream or river. Water that has a replenishing source. Water that is fresh and clean.
It is an image used throughout Scripture to speak of God as THE ONE AND ONLY SOURCE that refreshes our soul and fills us with that for which we thirst for most.
Blessed is the man whose… delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water… Psalm 1:1-3 select verses
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. Psalm 23:1-2
And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11
O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Jeremiah 17:13
Jesus draws upon these images here to speak of a source that quenches the deepest thirst. And then he says to her: I am that source.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give will never be thirsty again.” John 4:14
We all rely on some source for living life. We all draw our water from somewhere don’t we? Some of us draw it from the well of success or fame. Some of us draw it from the well of financial security and good living. Some of us draw it from the well of relationships or friendships. Some of us draw it from the well of pleasing others or being the hard worker or the dependable friend/spouse/parent. Perhaps we draw our water from several of these wells in order to secure our sense of self worth, value, and meaning in life.
But Jesus says, draw from these sources and you will just come up thirsty again. Because unless we are drawing water from THE ONE SOURCE we were made to draw water from, Jesus himself, we will find ourselves parch and longing for more.
This woman, she feels her thirst and so she asks to know more. “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water” John 4:15. The woman doesn’t know exactly what she is talking about but she wants to know more. Tell me about this living water.
She wants to know more. I want to know more.
I want to know in this world that feeds me the lies me that the way to deepest fulfillment and joy is through fame, a successful career, money, the life of toys and leisure, relationships, sexual fulfillment, or even having the pinterest home… I want to know how to stay at the source that truly feeds me what I need. I want to drink from the stream that quenches my deepest thirst, a thirst that these other things the world says provides meaning and satisfaction cannot even touch.
The truth is friends, there is only one source that fills us full of what we need most, and that is Jesus.
So how do we do it? How do we draw from the living water of Jesus? What does it look like to drink from his endless source of nourishment and refreshment?
I’m still trying to figure that out but I think it looks like staying in God’s word and filling our minds with His truth. It looks like spending time in prayer where we pour out our hearts and we can listen to God telling us who we are. It looks like gathering for worship week in and week out where we are reminded who we are and whose we are. It looks like finding places of community where we can be real and authentic, where we can share our struggles and pains and growing places, and we can point each other to the truth, the truth that Jesus is the only thing that can fill us full of what we need most.
And sometimes friends, it may mean going off grid… you may need to disconnect from those things that have been your go-to to source living your life… the things in life you have relied on for fulfillment that might be good things in and of themselves but were never intended to be the place you find meaning and wholeness. It may be that you cannot disconnect from them fully but you can begin to put them in their proper place in your heart and mind and soul.
Your work is a good and meaningful thing, but it is not who you are. Money isn’t bad in itself, but it does not actually provide you with the security you truly need in life. Relationships are a blessing, but they are not ultimately what will fill that deepest place of loneliness in you.
For me going off-the-grid has meant dialing down the noise, the noise of needing to constantly keep up with everything on social media, of measuring my life by posts on Facebook, of reducing the activities and conserving energy so I can do the hard work of getting straight where value and meaning in my life truly comes from. It has meant hard work in therapy and hard conversations with those closest to me. It has meant lots and lots of time in quiet, journaling and praying and searching God’s Word to get straight the truth from the lies.
In one such moment of quiet, I sat on my brother’s deck Holy Saturday morning, the day before Easter, taking in the beauty of their off-the-grid living. There is a spaciousness there, the feeling that one can breathe full and deep.
I watched the sunrise over the hills and took in the shape of this lone tree in the distance, backlight by the first light of day. It made me think of another tree, a tree that Jesus hung upon for me, to show me just how deeply and fully and extravagantly I am loved. And it reminded me that I am made for this love, a love that will fill me full of all I ever need.
Only Jesus fills you full of what you need most. Only Jesus is that source of living water for which we thirst for at the deepest places of ourselves.
So friends, come and drink. Drink deep and be filled.
Feel free to download this here and remind yourself of the truth…
Several photos in this post were by Jason Matyas who, with his wife Shannon and their seven children, are seeking to live an off-grid life as a family. Find out more at getreadytothrive.com & beyondoffgrid.com