Going back to the well ... Part 2
Over the past few years I’ve realized that sometimes I’m slow to catch on when Jesus wants to show me something. Very often He has to tell me things repeatedly before I realize he’s even talking to me. (And I wonder where my kids get this wonderful trait…)
Jesus doesn’t get frustrated with me, though. With patience, He shows me over and over whatever it is He wants me to see. (With patience. I should probably remember THAT part when I’m imparting life wisdom to my kiddos and they’re not catching on as quickly as I’d like.) Anyway, for some time after the retreat I was repeatedly – and inexplicably – drawn back to the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. It was as if Jesus was trying to show me something else…
Before I show you why Jesus kept bringing me back to the well, I want to give a little background on my bible reading history. Around two years ago I discovered we had a bible in our house. I discovered it. As in …. I didn’t. Even. Know. It was there. It was my old bible from my Catholic high school days (although I don’t really remember opening it while in high school.) Now since I just pointed out that I stumbled across it in my own home, this should tell you about my limited bible reading experience. Putting it bluntly, I really hadn’t touched a bible, much less read from a bible, in … well … forever.
Following my recent reversion though, I became interested in reading the bible. Now I had heard that starting at page one and reading straight through was not recommended, but that was the only way I knew to read a book!! I didn’t know where to start. I wasn’t sure I would get much out of reading it on my own…. To be honest, I found the idea of opening up the bible a little intimidating.
Fortunately I was introduced to a bible reading devotional app called First5. Without a doubt this app helped me become more comfortable reading the bible. So if you’re interested in starting but don’t know how – check it out. (Or send me a message. I’m happy to talk more with you.)
I still use First5, along with other devotionals. But I have also started reading the bible on my own, and I have discovered that there are different ways to read something. When I read anything OTHER than the bible, I read passively – to gain knowledge or for entertainment.
However, I get much more out of the bible when I read actively – expecting to hear from God, reflecting on how the words I’m reading apply to my own life, and sometimes even using my imagination to picture myself in the bible story. It is said that the bible is God’s Living Word. And I’ve learned that when I read it, I must make time to be still. To sit and listen for God. And to receive all that He wants to share with me.
Okay. Back to the well…
Every time I opened my bible and tried to move on from the story of the Samaritan woman, I felt this nagging sensation, pulling me back to the well. In my first post about the well I mentioned that the very first step in getting to know Jesus is simply meeting him - recognizing that He comes to us, intentionally, to meet us where we are, even with all of our imperfections. After that, the ball is in our court.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, the first words he spoke to her were quite simple - he asked her to get him a drink of water from the well. She responded, not by getting him water, but by focusing on the rules of their time. (John 4: 7-9)
Rules that prevented a Jew from interacting with a Samaritan.
Rules that prevented a Jewish man from talking publicly with a woman.
Rules. Rules. Rules.
SHE FOCUSED ON THE RULES.
You may or may not know this about me… but I’m a rule follower. I always have been.
I read the instructions. I follow directions. I even remember being at a friend’s house in high school where someone lit a joint and passed it around. (Bear with me; I promise this will tie in. LOL!) I stood there, trying to decide how I would “follow the rules” and “Just say no” while still looking cool. While I was still working this out in my head, my friend reached across me, while holding the joint, and passed it to the person on my other side. “I figured you didn’t want this,” he said nonchalantly. So apparently in addition to following the rules … I also exude an aura that lets others know I’m a rule follower (and that I will be turning down a joint)! (Dear Lord, please let my children have this same aura!).
Anyway, in addition to rules, schedules and routines are a priority for me. They’re the only way we manage to keep up with our crazy family schedule - complete with two working parents and two kids playing two different competitive travel sports, often bringing us all in different directions at the same time.
So rules, routines and schedules are good things. They keep us on track. They have a place….
But I think Jesus wanted me to see that if I’m not careful, these rules, routines and schedules could keep me from seeing Him. From hearing Him. From knowing Him. Just as they almost kept the Samaritan woman from talking with Him.
You may recall that when Jesus first broke into my life I found myself doing random things that were quite out of character – listening to Christian music, attending services at a different church, joining a small group bible study with total strangers. Each one of these things was very much “against the rules” for how I lived my life. It would have been SO EASY for me to cling to my safe routine and ignore that quiet little voice inside. The voice that was inviting me to step out of my comfort zone. In many ways the choices I made ... and revealing those choices to others …. Well, it was scary and uncomfortable at first.
And then I wonder, how did the Samaritan woman feel when Jesus asked her to break the rules by interacting with Him?
How did she feel when Jesus asked her to do something that was, on one hand, very simple – get water from the well. But at the same time, very complicated – do something that’s “not allowed.”
Was she also scared? Uncomfortable? I don’t know. The passage doesn’t tell us this part. We only know that ultimately she did talk with Jesus. Just as I chose to respond to that quiet little voice inside of me. And the Samaritan woman and I? Well, we both had life changing encounters with Jesus.
All because we both decided to break the rules.
I think some rules are made to be broken…
I know there will be a time in the future that He will again want me to stretch outside of my comfort zone. I’ll hear His voice, nudging me to do something that feels a little uncomfortable. Maybe even scary.
I bet if you’re listening, you’ll hear Him too.
When that day comes, I pray we both look back to the story of the Samaritan woman. Maybe we’ll even recall this blog post. And I pray God graces us both with the courage we'll need to follow His lead ... wherever He wants to take us.
As always, I’m praying God breathes life into these words.