The story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well can be haunting. Like this woman who had secret relationships, we all have sins we would rather not talk about. In many ways we can identify with her. There are days when we feel beat down and plain worn out. We just want a fresh start, like a glass of cool water, and all we get is the stale repetition of every day failure. We just want to be left alone.
The Samaritan woman goes to the well where she can sulk in peace. The Man just needs to move away. She doesn’t want to talk, like sometimes we don’t want to pray. There is nothing more to say. Asking for help is hopeless. There have been too many mistakes, grudges, and hurts. We have nothing more to give. Our well is dry. Why is He asking us for water?
Even if we could give Him water, it would be contaminated with our filth. We cringe at His request. Our faith is frazzled. We thought we knew God, and for the longest time we have tried so hard to be good. The Samaritan woman’s faith in the God of Jacob had given her the same dry results as our efforts have been to please God. We have been drinking from the wrong well.
“The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not have to be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’” (John 4:15)
Fresh water? Revival? Sure, everyone can use a fresh start, a new attitude, and a kick in the behind. But everything seems the same. We are here at the well again. What, Jesus, can You do for us now? How in the world can You refresh our mess?
The woman had husbands and Jesus knew it.
”Go call your husband, and come here.”
His gentle hospitality is arresting. He invites the woman to bring her husband for His living water? Really?
“I have no husband!” The woman is shaken and confused. So are we. What sins are we so aligned with that we are stuck in their control, like bad relationships? Who has arranged our pity party?
“You are right – you have five husbands and you are living with a man now,” Sounds like this Samaritan gal has had quite the party herself.
The truth stings. What the Savior knows and reveals exposes the sins that have us trapped. Like our friend from Samaria, I have been bound to “husbands” of my own.
The one with the strongest hold of all is pride. How devious pride is to make me think I must be perfect, even better, than everyone else, smile always, out hostess the hostess, and hide my age with more mascara and spin classes. How tightly I have clung to this arrogant, vain companion so I can measure up to the world’s standards.
The second “husband” taunts me by making me afraid that people think I am dumb, dramatic and delusional. Fear has a great time pulling me into thinking I am not creative, just a little crazy. “Stay home with me!” fear implores, trying to convince me to stay close and avoid adventures or new experiences. “You’re too old to take risks,” I am reminded over and over.
I have also lived with judgment, which always hooks up to pride. It’s easy for me to recognize judgment as my eyebrow raises when I see really short skirts like I wish I could wear, hear words like “me” and “I” used incorrectly, or sit next to a loud obnoxious fan at a football game. My flirt with judgment always puts me back in the arms of pride.
The times I have spent with bitterness and selfishness have been dark and deep. I’ve tried to convince myself that I can’t relate to selfishness because I enjoy giving gifts and other pleasantries to people. But selfishness convinces me I want presents, too, and when I think about it too much, selfishness turns to greed. That’s when bitterness sets in. Together, the three of us console ourselves in the most pitiful way.
Of all my metaphorical husbands, shame is the most persistent one, like the man Jesus told the love-lost woman she was still living with. Like super glue, it just won’t let go, constantly reminding me of my weaknesses and how unholy I am to a God who calls me to be as holy as He is. Shame plagues me when I stoop to temptation, snap in defense, and skip church. Never quiet, especially at night when I try to sleep, shame hisses reminders of failures and blunders from my past. Shame sneers, “Tomorrow is going to be just as bad. You are a loser.”
Except, tomorrow is today and I am at the well reading about the Samaritan woman. Here in the fourth chapter of John, Jesus gives us His water so we can live free again. His Love is a thundering waterfall crashing through our bondages, washing away the stigma of our sins.
This is what you and I, along with the Samaritan woman, have needed all along! Then and now, we must come to the well of Living Water and be drenched in the knowing and forgiving Love of Jesus.
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is a lifeline to those of us who think our sins are hidden away in the corner where we hide. Jesus loves all of us in spite of ourselves, no matter how many “husbands” - or sins - we have. If we’ll just ask Him, He’ll rip us out of those corners and throw us back into the world dripping with Love.
Drink up the water Jesus pours and live!
“For with You is the fountain of life…” (Psalm 36:9)