Thursday, October 17, 2013

At The Well

Hello Friends,

For my friends at Angie’s Notes of Grace, I have once again joined a Proverbs31 Ministries Online Bible Study. We are currently going through the book “A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God’s Promises” by Renee Swope. We are in our first week, and have read the first 2 chapters. I don’t know about anyone else, but it has certainly made an impact on me.

First I would like to share our key verse,

I have really been asking God to cement this into my heart. I already “know” (with a head knowledge) that He is the Lord, but I want to “know” (with a heart knowledge) that He is my Lord. Renee makes a statement in the book, “Maybe you are like me; you have believed in Him (God) for years---but you haven’t really believed Him completely.” I know that’s how it’s been me, and that takes us to the last part of this verse; “those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” There is NO shame, disappointment, or regrets in waiting for me, or trusting me! Basically God is saying that anytime we put our trust in Him, we have a guarantee that we will not be disappointed or regret it! Wow! Who else can give you that? No one!!! There is NO fine print, No exceptions! I think it’s time WE…ok, I start believing God COMPLETELY! How about you?

So we’ve established that we have a God who is totally trustworthy. In Chapter 1 Renee talks about how the Shadows of Doubt creep up on us and we don’t even realize it. We can be going about life and the next thing you know we are questioning if we are “good enough” to accomplish what God has called us to do, or we’re telling ourselves those same negative things we did in the past; I can’t, It’s too hard, I’ll never change, etc. But God wants us to remember that we only see those shadows when we are turned away from the light. Because once you look at the light, you can’t see the shadows anymore! 

As DC Talk put it:
“I wanna be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light”

Sorry, that song hit me and I had to share it. If you don’t know it, you can find it on YouTube, DC Talk - In The Light. Go listen!

As we move to Chapter 2, Renee digs into the fact that because God is perfect we don’t have to be. We take a look at Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4. I am going to ask you to read it yourself. Please do me a favor, even if you know this story, go read it again. And one more favor, read it in as many versions as you can find, just to see what they say.

Now that you’ve read it, and I hope you’ve read it at least 4 times. I would like to share some of the things that really struck me about this story as I read it in Scripture and in “A Confident Heart”. Renee refers to the woman at the well as Sam, because she is a Samaritan woman, and giving her a name makes her feel more real. So I will do the same. Let’s list some things we know about Sam:

1.    A Samaritan woman - Samaritans were hated by the Jews, they were considered “low-life”, a mixed race
2.   Alone - She didn’t come with the other women to get water
3.   Married 5 times
4.   Living with a man
5.   Probably felt abandoned and rejected
6.   Desired to be loved and accepted

Now let’s list the things we know about Jesus that relate to his encounter with Sam:

1.    Jesus loves all people - 1 John 3:16 (NIV) This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
2.   He was intentional about meeting Sam - John 4:4 (NIV) Now he had to go through Samaria.
3.   To Jesus Sam’s spiritual condition was more important than Jewish customs -John 4:9-10 (NIV) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
4.   To Jesus Sam’s spiritual condition was more important than the actual sins she committed - John 4:16-26 (Read for yourself)

Let’s explore Sam’s encounter with Jesus at the well, keeping the above things in mind. It looks like to me that Sam was probably a pretty miserable person, or had reason to be. She reminds me of a lot of people I know. In fact, Sam has characteristics I could probably relate to. There are things that have happened in my life that get me down. Sometimes I would rather carry the 8+lbs that a gallon of water weighs, in the Texas summer heat, than be around people who have caused me pain. Do you ever feel that way? We just keep that pain, hurt, disappointment, distrust, and let it fester and get bigger and heavier and turn in to bitterness. Some times we let it boil and want revenge. Maybe your saying, “Whoa Angie, I wouldn’t do that! I’m a ‘Christian’!” Don’t lie to me, yourself or God! We’ve all been there. I know I have! So Sam’s probably carrying the weight of those past relationship and the ridicule she’s undoubtedly received from “ladies” in the neighborhood. Sam might even be dealing with depression and/or anxiety. Of course in those days, she didn’t have what we have today, medication and Godly counselors to help her through her struggles. Most likely Sam was all-alone. I can’t even imagine life without a Christian physician who prescribes my anti-depressants and a Christian Counselor! Both who will pray with me and for me! Some of us simply don’t get enough of certain chemicals in our brains to help us deal with stressful or difficult situations. It’s kind of like a diabetic whose body simply cannot produce the insulin that it needs to regulate sugar/carbohydrates that come in through the blood stream. When you look at it like that, you realize just how blessed we are to live in the day we do. If Sam was depressed, she might have known about a few natural remedies to help her, but that was probably it. No real medication, and no support system.


So Sam approaches Jacobs well, and a man is sitting there. This is not just any man, he is a Jew. Can’t you imagine the thoughts that went through her head? Things like; “Great, like I don’t have enough to deal with, Omar wants his favorite lamb stew for dinner and I’m out of tomatoes, and now I have to deal with a Jew! I hope he will just ignore me, since I am a Samaritan. Oh please don’t harass me for being a Samaritan! You think you are so much better than the rest of us, you stinking Jew!” Instead she begins to draw her water and Jesus kindly, respectfully greets her. Don’t you know she was probably so surprised she almost fell in the well! I imagine her leaning over to hook the bucket on to lower it into the well when Jesus says, “Ma’am” I can see her lose her balance and have to catch herself before she falls head first into the well. I’m sorry I have a vivid imagination! Sam stands up, continuing to lower the bucket, and says, “Yes? May I help you?” At that point Jesus proceeds to ask for water, and their dialogue begins. As Jesus speaks to Sam I can see her expression begin to soften. She can’t believe that a man, especially a Jew would talk to her this way, kind, without judgment, not wanting a physical encounter. “This man is different. How could he know about all my marriages, yet he doesn’t want to punish me for them? Oh my! I think He’s the Messiah! He is! This man is our Messiah! The one we have waited for!” At that point, Sam took all of those hurts, disappointments and regrets and gave them to Jesus. Never to take them back! She finally found someone who accepted her just the way she was, and she could let go!

In our book, the story stops there, but do you know what I find interesting? At that point the disciples return and urge Jesus to eat, so Sam leaves. When she leaves she can’t help herself, she begins telling everyone that the Messiah is down at Jacob’s Well! “I met him! He just told me all about my past without me saying a word! You have to go down there and meet him!” Because of Sam, Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,” John 4:39a. How cool is that!

Are you hurting today? We all have hurts from our past. It’s what we do with those hurts that determine what kind of person we become. If we hold on to them, we can become grouchy, pessimistic, depressed, anxiety ridden, or bitter. But when we do like Sam, and give those hurts to Jesus. Then He can take a heart that has been battered, bruised and even broken and mend it. We will always bear the scars of those hurts, but now they will only be a reminder of who put us back together.   

I know that I would much rather take my past hurts, give them to Jesus and let him begin to mend my heart. This week as I have begun to do just that, it was like I could feel Him bringing parts of my heart that had been broken, back together and gently, stitching it back up. What a comfort to have that healing process begin.

Living in Grace,