Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Woman At the Well

God keeps bringing this story to my attention and prompting me about different things concerning it. I've had a very strong sense that I should write it down so here goes.

This is the NIV version if you want to see it.

Jesus goes to this well while the disciples go into town to get food. It's an odd thing for a man to do since this is "woman turf" and the whole thing is even more culturally out of whack because the woman who shows up is a Samaritan. This is clearly evidenced when the disciples return and are somewhat taken aback that Jesus has been talking to her.

The conversation he has with the woman is intersting to me for a few reasons. It seems to me that Jesus is in complete control of and leading the entire thing. First, he asks her for a drink. She comments on how peculiar it is for him to be asking her because of the Jews' revulsion of Samaritans. Then, he turns right around and tells her about the living water he has to offer and how it is really she who should be asking him for a drink. He goes on to mention her husband in what sounds like a very leading way. Apparently, just so he can hear her answer that she has no husband, so that he can reveal to her that he knows all about her and the fact that she's living with a guy and has had 5 husbands previous. He ends up telling her that he's the Messiah and the disciples come back. She runs off to town, forgetting her water pot, and seems to be happy to tell other people about a man who knew about all her sins.

This story seems particularly relevant to those who struggle with sexual sin. This woman was obviously sexually broken. She was lookin' for love in all the wrong places, so to speak. Jesus knew that. He related her brokenness to a thirst. The woman must have had other sins in her life, but it was this sexual brokenness that Jesus focused on. He understood that she was thirsty for something and trying to get that thirst filled in inappropriate ways. His manner of speaking to her about it didn't put her off or make her mad. She could easily have taken the attitude of "screw you" and walked away, but she didn't. The dialogue almost sounds playful if you read it just right. It certainly doesn't come across as judgemental or condemning, he was just speaking truth. Somehow he communicated understanding and empathy for her, offered hope for quenching her thirst, and at the very least left her wanting to know more. We don't get to hear the rest of her story, only his.

I'm definitely hearing loudly and clearly from Jesus in this exchange that there is a thirst in all of us. In this instance, the woman was attempting to quench it with sex.

We've discussed this off and on over at Ben's blog but for me this story illustrates perfectly the fact that the heart of the matter, when it comes to anything we struggle with, is not the actual sin of choice at all. It's about quenching your thirst with Jesus. It's about seeking Him above all else, come what may. Maybe it will mean you won't ever have a romantic relationship, sexual relationship, be married, or have children(be you gay or straight). Maybe it will mean you will be at odds with people in your family, have to give up "creature comforts", or be ridiculed for making decisions that go against the culture at large. Maybe you will be asked or feel compelled to drop everything you are currently doing and run into town like the woman at the well and start telling everyone you know about this guy named Jesus.

The point is, if there is anything at all in front of your relationship with him, or if you don't really have a relationship with him, you remain thirsty. Unquenchably thirsty. Nothing else will do. No counterfeit will suffice. And you never even know it until you begin to get a taste of that living water. I believe that woman at the well got a taste of the living water Jesus spoke of that day. And I believe she started falling in love with the man she had been searching for all along in those 6 other fellas. I'd love to write the rest of her story.

Maybe I will.

Maybe I am.

Maybe we all are.


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