"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" is an old adage. I've heard that saying for as long as I can remember and usually pass over it without much thought.
Someone recently asked me what I thought that saying meant. Its meaning is obvious, or at least I thought it was until I stopped and really considered it. I told her that it meant you can lead a horse by its reins to the water trough, but it's up to the horse to bend its neck and lap the water. Even if its head is plunged below the surface, the horse determines whether or not the water will be drunk. It's an adage about choices not about drinking water.
People are much like a horse being led to a water trough. We are hot, tired and thirsty from life's struggles. Perhaps we struggle with an addiction; be it food, substances, shopping, gambling or other behavior that is life controlling. Perhaps we battle attitudes that are unbecoming. We are led by every whim of society and culture that blows our way. All these influences make us thirsty for something that will satisfy.
God's trough of Living Water is available to all who come. In John 7:37, Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." Yet, for one reason or another, we often languish in our thirst because we don't want to take the final step toward the trough. "Come to me." requires movement on our part. We choose to come or to stay. We choose to be miserable or contented. Jesus won't throw us in the trough by force, he gently leads us to the Water, the choice to drink is ours.
Why do we hesitate when the invitation is so simple? Because it's easier to stay where it's familiar? We are hot and sweaty, maybe even a little stinky, but we choose to remain in the same place. We see the cool, refreshing water. We can almost taste its refreshment on our parched tongues, but our feet won't budge from where they are firmly planted. Moving forward will require a change of position. We might have to change a habit in order to move forward. We might need to change an attitude toward someone to move toward the water.
The next time you feel scorched and thirsty, think about the trough of Living Water. It will fully satisfy your soul.