Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Woman at the Well

     It was an ordinary day, like the endless days that had gone before & the seemingly endless stretch of days that lie ahead. Life had been anything but easy. She dressed and prepared for the long trip to the well. She decided to wait until noon, to avoid as much of the gossip and criticism as she could from the other women who went to the well daily in the early morning and evening. She knew what they were saying, and that it was true, but it didn’t make it easier to hear. Her succession of husbands, 5 in all, had left her friendless & despised by the other women. Her current boyfriend had chosen not to marry her, leaving her further shamed and broken. She busied herself with daily tasks but the void in her life made each day lonelier than the last.
     “Well, I’d best get it over with,” she told herself. She picked up her heavy jar, thrust her chin up with a bravado that she didn’t feel, and headed out the door. She could hear the snickers of the other women, and could feel their pointing fingers although no one dared to speak to her directly. She was an outcast, shunned by the community.
     As she approached the well, a stranger caught her eye. “What on earth is He doing here?”  she wondered. A Jew travels many miles out of the way to avoid going through Samaria. Everyone knows the Samaritans are considered half-breed traitors…part Jewish and part Assyrian. “Why would He be sitting here?”
    When she finally reached the well, the stranger spoke. “Please, woman, would you give me a drink?” Stunned that He would even speak with her, the woman responded “How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”  Everyone knows that the Jews consider the Samaritans to be unclean!
     Jesus replied, “If you knew what God could give you and if you knew who it was speaking with you, you would have asked Him and He would give you a drink of living water.”
     “But sir,” she said, “the well is deep and you have nothing to draw water with. Where would you get this living water? Are you greater than our ancestors who provided this well for themselves and their families?”
Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks this water will thirst again but whoever drinks of the water I can give will never be thirsty again for my gift will become a spring of living water in the person’s life and result in eternal life!”
     “Please then, sir, give me some of this water so I can stop being thirsty and will never have to come draw water here again.”
     “First, go get your husband and then come back” Jesus said.
     “I haven’t got a husband,” she said as she blushed with the shame.
     “You are quite right,” Jesus answered. “You have had five husbands and your current lover is not your husband at all. You spoke the truth.”
     “Sir, you are truly a prophet.” She sighed.  Then, to direct conversation away from herself, she began questioning Him about the proper location of worship, for the Jews and Samaritans had a long-standing disagreement about it.
     “Ah, you are worried about where to worship but I am telling you that before long worshipping will not be a matter of a hill or a city, but a time is coming, and has already come, when true worship will be done in Spirit and in truth. Indeed the Father is already looking for those who will worship Him this way! God is spirit and those who truly worship Him must worship in spirit and truth!”
     “Of course, I know the teaching that when the Messiah, the Christ, comes He will make all things plain to us,” she replied.
     “I ,the one speaking with you, am He,”  Jesus said.
     About that time, His disciples were returning from their trip into town and were shocked to find Him speaking with a Samaritan, and a woman no less, but none of them dared question Him about it.
As the disciples arrived, the woman turned away, leaving her water jar behind, and ran back into town. Although hesitant to give heed to such a woman as her, many came out to hear her story and decided to go find the truth for themselves.
     While she was gone, the disciples encouraged Jesus to eat some of the food they had brought but Jesus refused, insisting He had food that they knew nothing about.”  Confused, that He had already been given something to eat while they were gone, they continued to question Him but He replied, “My food is to do the will of the One who sent me and to finish the work He has called me to do.” Then Jesus said, "You look ahead to the harvest but I am telling you the harvest is ready right here and  right now. Open your eyes and look around you, for the one who planted and the one who is gathering are both being rewarded and celebrating their harvest of eternal life. The old saying is true, ‘One man sows and another man reaps.’ You are going to get to harvest that which you never planted. Other men have done the hard work and you will reap the result of their labor.”
     While the disciples were pondering this teaching, the Samaritans poured out of town to see Jesus. Many of them came & some even believed because of the woman’s testimony that she had met a prophet, One who told her of her past, but many more ended up believing on Him because of the teaching that He did. He stayed with them an additional 2 days, and when He was gone they said to the woman, “We don’t have to believe anymore because of the things you said. We have heard His teaching with our own ears and now know that this man is truly the one who will be the Savior of the world!”

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just an ordinary day...turned extraordinary

      Have you ever considered that God does amazing things in the midst of ordinary days?
      The shepherds were watching their sheep on the hillsides, just like every other night, and then the angel showed up with the earth-changing news that Jesus, the Messiah, had been born.The widow and her sons were struggling through a financial crisis, just like they had for many other days, when Elijah showed up to exhibit God's incredible power of provision through the filling of jars. Gideon was hiding in a wine cellar trying to thresh wheat when the angel hailed him and started him on the path to be his nation's unlikely hero. The woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, & had spent all her money on unsuccessful cures, heard that Jesus was in town and through a touch of faith was miraculously healed.
      Hundreds of stories are recorded in the pages of the Bible and many began as just one more ordinary day. What turned it into the extraordinary was not the circumstance or situation, but the intervention of God into that circumstance. As the characters went about their normal, everyday lives  amazing things happened. None of them woke up that particular morning to trumpets blaring or
angelic pronouncements that the day had come for their miracle. They were just going about their business & God stepped in!
      Sure, there are those occasions where God gives a timeline or at least a general idea of when He intends to do something, such as in the case of Noah's ark or Pharaoh's warnings, but most often it seems that He moves in the course of daily, normal routines.
      That's an exciting thought. The God of the universe is able to intervene into my scary or upsetting situation at any time...not just on Sunday. He chooses the time and place according to His plan. My miracles could be just around any corner, on any ordinary day! So could yours!
       Those thoughts make me want to do a couple of things: I want to wake up each day in eager expectation of the wondrous things God wants to do in, through and for me that day. I also want to be aware of things that happen, for not all miracles are all-encompassing! Each day holds hundreds of little miracles, from the beauty of nature to the car accident that was avoided. And I want to live in gratitude, for in reality there are no "ordinary days" because each and every day that we walk with God is an extraordinary gift that has its own wonders if we allow Him to orchestrate & permeate our lives! We just have to stop long enough to look for His interventions & slow down enough to appreciate them!