Desperate. She was desperate. The hope she once held had dried up like an autumn leaf: fallen, blown about, and trampled underfoot. Pain and longing replaced the hope she had once known. When would relief come?
Thirst. It was as ravaging as anything she had ever known. At times, it consumed her. But her thirst wasn’t for the water she drew out of the well that day.
Shame. It kept her from meaningful life. She could no more escape the shame in her heart than she could the side-glances of the locals when she dared rub shoulders in public. She would isolate herself and wish for an end. But deep inside, below all the pain, she was desperate…for life.
“There is no pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”Corrie ten Boom
A stranger. Different from any man she had ever known, He looked straight through her torn and desolate heart to see the hurting child she had once known, but who now lay deep within where every grasp on security had been cast to grave. This stranger knew everything about her. Yet He spoke gently and asked for her help.
A drink of water?
Jesus knew what she thirsted for. And He had come to fill her with living water.
“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”John 4:13-14, ESV
Jesus did not shame the Samaritan woman He met that day. Instead, He entrusted her with the honor of being first to hear his true identity, for when she mentioned Israel’s hope of the Messiah, Jesus revealed to her,
“I who speak to you am he.”John 4:26, ESV
If you are a believer in Jesus, the story of the woman at the well is likely a familiar one. I have known this story most of my life, yet, never more experientially than I presently do. You see, there was a time when I understood Jesus proclamation, “you will never be thirsty again.” In transactional terms. To be sure, Jesus’ work on the cross was transactional in a sense. In His death, he exchanged our sin for His righteousness. It’s called, imputation in theological circles. What He earned (righteousness) he granted to us. What we earned (separation from God) He took upon Himself on the cross. That was a transaction that can never be undone, nor does it need to be done again.
But with that transaction, Jesus offered something to quench our thirsty souls. Thirst-quenching is not once-for-all in the manner of imputation. Thirst quenching is about abiding. It is about sinking deep roots, and it is about relationship.
Like the woman at the well, deep inside each of us is a thirst. Certainly, we have invented ways of drawing water. We long for things, experiences, and relationships that eventually leave us wanting more. We develop coping mechanisms and excuses, yet our longing is never fully appeased. We all need something beyond what this world can offer, and we will thirst until we find it. We long for life just as did the woman at the well.
I’ll own it.
One of the greatest gifts God has given me as I’ve grown in my love for Him is a deep love for people. I derive a great amount of joy from friendships, especially in those where I can encourage, shepherd, and journey with others in their spiritual lives. I admit, at times the joy of loving others can make me feel less thirsty, but along with that, when something goes wrong, my world can be too easily shaken. I personally must guard myself from thinking I can be continually fulfilled by human relationships rather than by abiding and deepening my relationship with Jesus Christ. God is ever leading me to learn that my thirst is only satisfied in my relationship with Him.
What is it for you?
What does the enemy of your soul offer, telling you, “God knows that when you have (this) you will be satisfied?” Is it a dream job, leisure, recognition, admiration, possessions, a vocation, expertise in your field, an experience, or destination? There are so many things we desire. Many things we seek to fill our hearts. But only one is wise.
“Above all else, guard your heart. For out of it flows the wellspring of life.”Proverbs 4:23, NIV
It’s easy to forget that our very life flows from what we allow into it. It is especially easy to forget when we are filling our lives with good things. Not only do we need to guard ourselves from obvious intruders, e.g. evil and immoral things, we also need to guard ourselves from wonderful, yet inadequate substitutes for the living water of Jesus Christ. In essence, while we have heavily policed the front doors of our lives, we have left the back doors unguarded.
Substitutes. It’s so easy to choose substitutes. But substitutes cannot offer the water that lives forever.
He quenches our thirst and satisfies our desires. This you won’t know until you drink, and you won’t experience until you’ve stayed a while with Him. He sits beside the well where you go to draw your water. Will you notice Him? Will you speak to Him? Will you allow Him to give you the water that will quench your thirst for life?
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, asthe Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”John7:37b-38, ESV
Anonymous. The Scriptures keep her anonymous. We never learn the name of the woman at the well. Perhaps that is because, deep inside, she represents every one of us.