Quench can mean to satisfy thirst. Or it can mean to extinguish fire. Interesting, isn’t it? One arrangement of six letters with two extremely different definitions.
God quenches our thirst. We quench God’s Spirit.
I stand in Sunday morning church, my arms dangling at my sides, my mind wandering through objections to the displeasing flow around me. The melody is too slow. I don’t know these words. The power point blips off-cue and I miss the chorus that I was just beginning to “own”. I roll my eyes. I sigh. I quench the Holy Spirit.
I meet the eyes of my co-worker sitting across the desk from me. She is weary. Her husband’s cancer came as a shock in an otherwise smooth season. My brain measures her suffering against my own. I decide hers loses. He will survive. She will adjust. My grown child is fighting a demon. In my heart, my pain wins out in the priority struggle. Together, we sit alone. I quench the Holy Spirit.
Why is it that the restored me – quenched in my soul by God’s presence in my life, quenches the Holy Spirit so that it does not quench others around me – at least through me?
Surrounded by an unknown worship song, all I have to do is close my eyes and forget about the words, forget about me and allow the Spirit to take over. On a busy afternoon when my co-worker needs to talk, all I have to do is tune in to the fear in my friend’s eyes, allowing it to touch my own and then spill over as a bridge between us.
In those moments when I raise my bucket to slosh its contents on the context around me, I can instead hold up and hesitate. Raising it higher, I can hand it over to the Spirit who quite ably pours it over my own being, quenching me with what I need in the moment so that I then do not quench him.
Our thirst for hope, help and happiness is uniquely quenched when we drink deeply from the well of our relationship with God. His presence alone truly slakes a parched spirit. Conversely, Paul cautions the Thessalonians against extinguishing – putting out – or quenching the Spirit’s fire in I Thessalonians 5:19 (Quench not the Spirit.) Perhaps he means that we be careful not to pour water on the wrong thing.
Quench. Quench not. I choose one so that I do not choose the other.