Tell me I’m not the only one. You risk it. Venturing out in public, not looking your best, you decide to make it quick. You run your errand and return to safety. No harm, no foul.
Ha. It’s never that easy.
Coming from the gym last week, I knew better. But I took the chance. And as luck would have it, I ran into three especially put together, smiling church ladies. (Not from my church who have grown accustomed to my non-church-lady behaviors, but prominent community church ladies.) Sorry mom, I know you taught me better. And dang it, they noticed me and wanted to chat. This trio was meeting to discuss next months event— coincidentally, the event I was asked to be their keynote speaker.
Oh how I wished there was a magic button I could have pushed so the ground would open up and swallow me. If only I could have escaped unnoticed.
I could write a book of embarrassing moments. Shameful moments. And if you want a good laugh, ask me about Patee library at Penn State during midterms and my hooded sweatshirt debacle. It wasn’t pretty.
Wanting to hide
Having lived in Albuquerque for 8 years, and in the public eye as a pastors wife, I’ve lost my ability to go un-noticed. Sometimes, often times, I say or do the wrong thing and I would just rather be anonymous, thank you very much. I would rather just go un-noticed.
Woman at the Well
As I thought about my own poor timing, I was reminded of the story of the Samaritan woman and her life-changing encounter with Jesus when she attempted to inconspicuously get some water from the well. (John 4:1-42 is the entire account) She too, must have wanted that magic button to push so that the ground would swallow her up.
The story goes… a samaritan woman, an “undesirable”, chose to fetch water in the heat of the day with the hopes of avoiding the finger wagging villagers. Having made some shameful choices, she knew her lot as an outcast and preferred to live in the shadows. Then something remarkable happened. She met Jesus. He knows everything about her, but without condemnation. It was radical life-changing encounter.
There are many lessons from this passage. But what I find most striking is that deemed unworthy by everyone, this woman was unnerved by Jesus’ penetrating wisdom and gentle grace. Her expectations for this errand were small. She was there to get some water, hoping to go unnoticed. Jesus, on the other hand, wanted to heal this broken woman. He went out of his way to be at that well that day and broke several laws to even interact with her. Jesus offered exactly what she needed. She needed to be known with compassion, seen without judgement and offered living water.
Catch a glimpse, Be expectant
As I prepare to host the Lenten Prayer challenge again this year, it’s my prayer that each participant catches a glimpse of this Jesus. After all, we may not even realize what it is we need. We’re likely not expecting all that much. But…
I’m confident of this…
- Jesus will be there, longing to connect, focused on you.
- In spite of any shame that weighs you down, He already knows about it and loves you anyway.
- He knows precisely what you need and wants you to receive that.
In her day, when someone asked for water, that person wanted to converse, to be friends. But she pushed back reminding him of their differences. “How can a Jewish man like you ask a Samaritan woman like me for a drink of water?” John 4:9 He can because He is God. He doesn’t care about divisive ‘rules’ like race or gender.
Right from the start Jesus begins to woo her. “If you only knew the free gift of God”. John 4:10. I imagine, right then, right there, her defenses rise as she thinks… predictably, He’s like all the rest. I saw that coming. Another man, offering something with strings attached. She is understandably skeptical. But Jesus doesn’t let up, He keeps seeking to meet her deepest need.
“But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14
Willing to Settle
She was willing to settle for less. Jesus wanted to give her more. All too often, we are this woman.
Having interacted with a Jewish man who would likely dump her tomorrow, this woman at the well was content with a drink of tepid water.
Jesus longed for her to experience wholeness and soul quenching ‘living-water’. Water that only He could give.
One or the other
Don’t miss this. We must let go of one to receive the other. If we trust ourselves and what we think we want, we’ll seek ease and comfort. It’s human nature. While that may satisfy our bodies for now, we’re at risk to starve our souls. I wonder what Jesus wants for me this lent?
Last year for the prayer challenge I introduced Mark Batterson’s notion of a prayer circle. It’s the idea of circling something or someone very intentionally and relentlessly praying over it for forty days. You are welcome to proceed similarly, this year.
For others, as you participate in the Lenten prayer challenge, you may instead choose to just “come to the well”. Perhaps you don’t know what to focus on, or your prayers feel scattered. Maybe you’re just curious about this Jesus. Rest in the knowledge that Jesus will not only be there, but He knows explicitly what you need even if you don’t.
Be expectant. Jesus longs to satisfy your soul.
P.S. If you’re a blog subscriber and would like to participate in the prayer challenge, please click this link to add your email to the prayer challenge list. I will send out a daily scripture and brief devotional every day throughout Lent. Please know, my weekly blog articles may be sporadic until after Easter.