First, I didn’t know what to write in this blog, so I remained silent for a time and asked the Spirit to lead me. This is the title that came out, and I had to ponder why. And this blog is filled with whys. But the Spirit answers them all by revealing the intention of Jesus in this story.
Whenever I’m in confusion or doubt, I always look to Jesus’ words and actions to inform me and enlighten me. I opened my Bible to review the familiar red-letter words in order to read them again and digest them in light of the leading I received. Since I believe the Bible is the living word – the Living Water and Nourishment – of God, it always has a different meaning depending on where you might be at the moment you read it.
As I read the words of the woman at the well (John 4:4-42), it came to me slowly and certainly. I think as I explain it, the meaning will come to you too.
The first thing Jesus says to the woman is in the form of a request: “Please give me a drink of water.”
The Samarian woman is shocked he is talking to her. After all, she has been treated as unworthy all her life by her kinsmen and her Hebrew neighbors, and she now believes it. Why does he ask the woman for a drink? Does he want something from her? Yes, he does. He wants her to ask him for a drink. He wants her to open her heart and receive.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you Living Water.”
All he wants is for her to see she has immeasurable value, for her to attain what she thinks is unattainable, for her to accept the unconditional love and grace he offers. Yet she does not understand the gift. She looks at life literally, and measures what she can see and touch.
For years, I did not understand either. I felt like the black sheep of my family. I was bullied by classmates at school. I was certain I was unworthy – of a decent job, of self-esteem, of a healthy relationship. I deemed myself valueless and closed myself off from receiving.
“Anyone who drinks this well water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Oh, how she wanted this water. She still didn’t quite understand the meaning of Jesus’ words, but she knew she desired something more, something bigger than her experience up until now. It’s obvious she began to reflect upon her life when Jesus said, “Go and get your husband.”
The woman froze. “I don’t have a husband.”
“You’re right,” said Jesus. “You don’t have a husband, for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t married to the man you live with now. You spoke the truth.”
The woman was amazed he knew her so well. She probably had goose-bumps, for he told her in detail about every aspect of her life.
As I searched for living water, for something more, I thought I would find it in men, in sex. I married and divorced three times before I was 40, I had affairs, and I lived with my fiancé, who eventually broke up with me.
But this woman was from Samaria, and she had heard that his God could only be worshiped in Jerusalem, only in one place, and she could not live there. She still had the doubt, the remains of shame and stigma she traveled with wherever she walked.
And then it was as though he read her mind, for he answered her thoughts and reassured her:
“Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer be necessary to worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. Indeed the time is here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Just as I did when I first realized he knew me, knew all my weaknesses, my faults, my deeds – good and bad – and loved me unconditionally in spite of and because of them, the Samaritan woman began to open her heart. She realized the depth of love and grace Jesus offered.
This woman began to fully understand who he was. She saw a glimmer of light – he wasn’t only a Jew, a rabbi, a teacher; he was The One. But how could she be sure? Could she simply ask him?
“I know the Messiah is coming – the One who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah.”
The woman was so delighted she ran back to her own village to tell everyone. Her testimony was so convincing, the villagers returned with her and convinced Jesus to stay with them for two days.
My search for unconditional love and peace beyond understanding culminated when I found Jesus and opened my heart to Him. He has been my Rock, my Foundation and my Big Brother ever since I walked into His arms. And I can’t help but tell others about Him.
He helps me, through His Spirit, to allow myself to be embraced by our Father, and be comforted knowing I am His daughter. He will always be with me, within me. His Spirit helps me see I can worship Him anywhere, anytime, and in a variety of ways – including writing this to you.