Let me share with you a story from one of my favorite football coaches—Bear Bryant, the great University of Alabama coach in years past. One summer on the late 1920s, the Bear was on break from his high school in Arkansas. He decided to go north to Cleveland, Ohio (where his sister lived) and get a summer job.
Later, when it came time for him to return home, he caught a train—literally. That is to say, as a freight train was pulling out of Cleveland heading south, Bryant ran beside the train and he jumped on it. In St. Louis the Bear hopped on another train that was heading south through Arkansas.
Forced by circumstance to ride on top of a boxcar all night, he almost froze to death due to the cool September night and to the air whistling by his body from the speed of the train. The next morning when the train had stopped for a few minutes, he climbed down from the top of the boxcar and crawled inside and closed the door. The only problem was that when the sun had risen, the boxcar became like an oven during the next few hours of travel.
Fortunately, when the train reached a small town, it stopped. Had Bear ridden much longer in the boxcar, he very well could have dehydrated. As he was staggering out for air, he noticed the train had stopped by a rice field. In the field was a small boy standing knee-deep in water. Bear got off the train and into the water and, pushing the rice apart, he drank his fill. The water was filthy, it was muddy, it was full of debris and smelled. In spite of this, the Bear said it was the best drink that he ever had.
I think this story is emblematic of the spiritual thirst that exists in our country today, and there is an answer. Jesus said in Matt. 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” [NIV].