Isn’t the story of the woman at the well one of the most beautiful short stories ever recorded? I love makeovers. I love seeing comebacks. Love watching the underdog rise from the bottom. I don’t know the rest of her story, but I do know that in just a few short minutes, her life is altered forever.
The Samaritan woman is one of my favorite Jesus-encounters, simply because of the transparency factor He shows a lady who’s probably seen more than her share of people not to be trusted. Sensitive to the short time He has to impart truth into this broken woman, He cuts to the chase–but He also solidifies the ground for trust by making Himself vulnerable to her. Oh, she can handle the fakes, the con-men, the bullies, and the gigolos. She’s had a lifetime to build up a thick skin. But what to do with this blatantly-honest prophet who’s just used a drink of water to weaken her defenses!
In one lunchtime conversation at the water cooler (smile), Jesus not only reveals the Samaritan woman’s greatest secrets to her, but then He turns around and reveals HIS greatest secret to her, too! If you read the NT, there weren’t that many people recorded to whom He came right out and said, “I’m He. I am the Promised One. I am the Son of God!” People who are in His company all the time, He will allow to chase after that revelation; even His disciples are discovering it somewhat gradually. He calms their storms and they eventually conclude, “Surely He’s the Son of God!” Yet, while just passing through, He shares that quiet truth with this Samaritan woman on a thirsty day by the well. And she gets it.
He throws her off guard on all counts. He is a male; in that culture, an unlikely person with whom to strike up a conversation. He is Jewish and she, from Samaria. These two groups pretty much tolerate one another, but it isn’t a warm cross-culture bond. So this other-gender, other-culture fellow draws her into a conversation so far beyond a little water (and without trying to hit on her or seduce her or appeal to her need for relationships–even those purely physical) that He changes her life forever. She is the woman with whom country music could have a field day. Single again, hold onto your men. Women like you are a dime a dozen.
I doubt she is a “black widow” with five dead husbands; or a woman looking for a sugar daddy, an intentional home wrecker. Probably not even a prostitute considering she’s been in front of the Justice o’ the Peace five times. I’d say she is just an unfortunately lonely person, who now on top of her fatal attractions, has half of Samaria’s female population hating her for breathing. Half the men in town wouldn’t dare ask her for a dipper of water from that well for fear of being called out, guilty by association. And for all we know, perhaps she is even planning Number Seven! Maybe Jesus looks like a potential transition out of Bad Relationship Number Six. She wants respect again, if ever she has had it at all. She wants social interaction without ulterior motives. She wants desperately not to be talked about in private gossip sessions, and not to have to be so stinking afraid of what the future does or doesn’t hold. She wants.
It’s not a crime to be lonely, and not even a crime to be unlucky in love. It is, however, a tragedy to go through one’s entire life in a perpetual state of unrequited love. Has she been abused? Is she unattractive and having to settle for bottom-feeders just to have a roof over her head? Or is she one of those women who is beautiful to the point where she is a threat…high-maintenance single lady, getting older, reputation for rockslides, tragically alone, the lovely shell that hides some major relationship flaw? Or yes, even the man-killer seductress who levels happy homes and leaves devastation in her wake? We may never know this side of heaven. She could even be standing there trying to let her headdress drape over a badly-blacked eye and burst lip; crouching like a whipped puppy anticipating no good out of another man just wanting what he can take from her. Boy is she about to get the shock of her life!
When she runs into town yelling and beckoning those whom she typically avoids, it isn’t just because Jesus nails her whole five-husbands-shacking-up-this-time-around routine. Her reputation in town probably doesn’t make that much of a prophetic discovery. No, she is excited. All that other stuff is old news, and bad news. Tabloid cover. She has just been given new news. Good news. For all the times she has stared at her reflection in the water pots and asked, “How did I end up like this? Why can I just not be happy? Don’t I deserve even a little better?” she has just been given an answer to them all! Her jubilant cry in the town square isn’t because she is proud of her past: it’s because she is finally hopeful of her future! She no longer NEEDS to put on the front, play the game, endure the torment, for at last she has learned that her void can be permanently filled through a right relationship with her Heavenly Father–Who is nothing like the men who have failed to fill shoes too large for mere men to ever fill! What relief…what peace! Her cell door has just been torn off the hinges! And not only has He done something incredible for her, He has shattered the glass ceiling by revealing a precious secret of His own to her! His encounter gives her some words she’s not used to hearing (with any a truth attached to them, at least): YOU CAN TRUST ME; AND TO PROVE IT, I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU THAT I TRUST YOU TOO! I’M ABOUT TO MAKE YOU A COURIER OF SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT–AND I BELIEVE YOU WILL CARRY IT WITH FLYING COLORS! Wow. I believe in you. That’s a cold drink of water on a hot day.
You may be in a relationship sag right now: in a bad marriage, a rocky engagement, a long dry spell in-between lovers, or perhaps some estranged parents, siblings, or kids. You may wonder if you will always be left disappointed and longing. Whether you are that woman with a “past” or a young man eager for a future he’s not quite ready to step into, your solution is one and the same: Jesus. If you will surrender that achy void to Him, He will fill it with the relationship that trumps all others: a permanent encounter with God. In His rightful place in your life, no human being is left responsible for your happiness. People fail us. We fail people. God never does.
Pray with me from your heart:
“Jesus, I’m tired of my frustration! I’m tired of feeling the eyes of others on me, judging me, sizing me up. I cannot meet the expectations of the whole world, and I’m so disappointed with the whole world’s inability to meet mine. You’d think with all of the opportunities, all the people, all my hard work, I could get past this EMPTINESS.
I am told You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I haven’t truly experienced that in my “knower” just yet. I don’t really know what it is like to be sold-out to a relationship with You, allowing time for it to grow. There may have even been times I’ve looked to You for a quick fix, but I’ve not stuck with You long enough to take root.
Forgive my failures, please! Forgive the sins against our Father, and the sins I’ve committed against myself (which always wound up hurting more than just me), and forgive me for not really allowing You time to transform me. I haven’t made You Lord of all…but in this moment, I know I need to. Help me.
Take over the controls in my messy, complicated life. Clean me up. Replace all my drama with the peace that sounds almost cliche’…I have never known it in reality. Cause me to know in my spirit that You are my Source. Man cannot HELP me (initially, not the news I’d hoped for), but now I see that neither can man HARM me (that’s pretty GOOD news!). I’m not enslaved by my need for others’ approval, so I no longer need to heap up harmful, destined-to-end-badly relationships. Help me to put God first now. Help me to put God first in all my tomorrows. Be my Savior! I receive Your living water now, and I need never again thirst for another source! Thank You for proving Your love for me. Thanks for leaving Heaven’s comforts just so you could come and identify with my discomforts. You did that for me–experienced every temptation, to the greatest of suffering and death, to raising from the dead. Now after all that, I’m told that You are listening from the right hand of Father God for my cry!
I believe in You. Help me to embrace what I might not yet understand, and to know that just like that woman at the well, I can trust You. I receive the life You died to bring me; and with Your help, my life changes now in this moment. I won’t go by my fickle feelings, I will rely on the fact that You do not lie! You are here for me forevermore, and I will never have to be alone again. I love You for that…and I am excited to know that the love will only grow. The more I seek You, the more I’ll find You. The more I know You, the more I’ll want to know!”