Buckets Full of Dust: Why I'm the Samaritan Woman

Originally published Wednesday, 08 May 2013.

For a spell of my life, I stood faithfully by a well full of sand. The wrong well. 

Though the well was fraudulent, it was my oasis in the desert. A landmark of feigned hope in a dead, dry place.

That's what happens when you stubbornly to pursue something--a relationship, money, status, talents, [insert hangup here]--wholeheartedly. When you step out of the realm of faith and strive on your own, when you're determined to make God's promises happen on your own. You think you're standing by a place of redemption and fulfillment. But, it's a lie.

You may not even realize it at the time. I know I didn't. Because it seems that even the wrong wells run deep.

The problem with wrong wells is that they're not necessarily dry. They're almost always full to the brim with heavy hopes. But when you dip your bucket down the channel, you'll only pull up buckets of desert dust.

And here I was, hoisting away at the ropes. My dry hands crackling and popping apart--splitting like the dead, hot floor of the desert. Blistered by pulling up these buckets and buckets of desert dust I thought would satisfy. I thought they'd rush over my chapped-red face, and maybe awaken my tongue that became nothing more than an edgy rock in my mouth.

But they didn't. So, in again, I'd dip my ladle into the hollow, hot hole in the ground. And up again--nothing but tiny shards of grainy grey powder.

I was standing alone by the well when the man came to me, I was busy submerging my palm in the bucket, expecting that perhaps this time, it was different.

Spoiler alert: it wasn't. 

There, in the desert, he asked why I was dipping into the well that would never satisfy.

I suppose I should have listened to him. Wasn’t he the same man who told his followers to cast their nets on the opposite side of their fishing boats? Hadn’t they been hoisting up sand from the ocean all day, too?

And didn't they heed his advice and hoist their nets, their palms blistered and bloodied just like mine, and finally find fish flopping and spluttering on the bow of their boat?

The man, Christ, told me to draw from another well. A well that quenches the thirsty and muddies the white sands by my feet. A well that blesses. A well that runs deeper than sand--a well that brings eternal life (John 4:13). 

There in the desert, he spoke to me. I left the wrong well. And I'm finally drawing water.