Thirty six years ago yesterday, on May 2, 1979, I had my tonsils out under local anesthesia at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. It was the same hospital my father had died in 11 months earlier and I had been sick for quite some time with severe tonsillitis.
At first the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. I had terrible throat infections about every three weeks and then the doctors would prescribe massive doses of penicillin until the infection subsided. However, after a short time off the drugs, the infection would flare up again and it got so bad that I couldn’t even swallow – anything. In fact, I had to carry around a towel so I wouldn’t choke trying to swallow my saliva. Taking the pills were the most painful thing that I have ever tried to do – worse than the gallbladder attacks I dealt with in 1984 before I had surgery to have my gallbladder removed.
I can’t describe the pain in my throat. It was horrible. I couldn’t eat anything for weeks and I had to really screw up my courage to even try and get one of the penicillin pills down. I couldn’t lay down and sleep – I was dehydrated and have never been so thirsty in my life. I was finally hospitalized and put on massive doses of steroids to break up all the inflammation in my throat. I was in isolation and once the medications started to work, I couldn’t stop coughing and went days in agony.
Eventually, the surgeons decided that the only way I would get better would be to have my tonsils removed. Now this sounds like an easy deal – but I was a stubborn guy and was afraid I was so sick that I would die if they put me under for the surgery. The doctor finally agreed that they would do the surgery under a local anesthesia. It was rough. My tonsils had scarred and the medical team even broke a needle when they tried to inject Lidocaine into my right tonsil before they cut it out. It hurt more than I can relate to you.
There’s no point going into additional detail – you get the idea. I was exhausted afterward and was wheeled to a room for overnight observation. The next morning I was released and promptly lit up a cigarette – I was smoker back then and as much as it hurt, it was far less painful that what I had experienced in the weeks leading up to the surgery. The most telling thing about the whole experience was how much I came to appreciate a simple sip of water. To this day, I don’t take that simple pleasure for granted.
The Bible contains many stories about water and people being thirsty. There is the famous story of the woman at the well and Jesus tells her about the ability to have “living water.” And those stories always touch my heart. After all, I know what it is like to be thirsty and Jesus offers us the chance to drink from such a source that we will never be thirsty again. Anybody who has been truly thirsty wouldn’t want to wait a moment longer to taste living water.
Our verse for the evening is from the last book of the Bible. John, the author of the book, tells us the words Jesus spoke in Rev. 21:6, “He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end – an everything in between. My encouragement this tonight is that Jesus wants us to drink from the free living water that He offers each of us. Did you hear that? It’s free – a gift. You don’t have to pay anything for it – in fact, you can’t pay for it. My prayer is that you will never experience thirst again. Because it is a special gift to know that you will be eternally fulfilled by God Himself. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…