November 9, 2011
He Is There
"Now he had to go through Samaria… and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" John 4:4, 6-7 (NIV)
What was He doing there? She didn't know who He was and couldn't help but wonder why He was talking to her, a Samaritan woman.
When He spoke, she heard gentleness in His voice. Kindness and humility in His simple request for a drink. In His eyes she saw acceptance, not judgment; love, not hate.
Many of us know her as the Samaritan woman, but I like to call her Sam. It makes her feel more like the real woman she was. A woman just like us who struggled with hurts, rejection and loneliness.
One thing I love about her story is found in our key verse where it tells us Jesus "had to go through Samaria." Theologians would tell us Jews considered Samaritans to be the scum of the earth and would do everything to avoid them. In fact, usually they would travel around Samaria—but not Jesus.
He had to go through Samaria. Perhaps it is because He knew Sam would be there.
Now typically, women came to the well in the morning or early evening. They traveled together in the cool of the day, avoiding the scorching heat of the sun since they would be carrying heavy jars filled with water back to their homes. But not Sam; she walked there all by herself in the hottest part of the day.
Instead of avoiding the scorching heat of the sun, many believe Sam went to the well at noon to avoid the scorching pain of others' rejection and judgment. The weight of the water-filled jar in the heat must have been almost unbearable; but the weight of her neighbors' words, reminding her of her failures, was more than she could take.
You see, Sam had been married five times. In her culture women could not divorce their husbands, so she had been discarded by five men. And, she was now living with a man who didn't think she was worth committing to.
When Jesus met her, Sam was running errands and running away from those who knew all about her flaws and failed marriages. Knowing she was running from the very thing that reminded her of her imperfections, Jesus timed it so she would run into Him and find perfect love.
He initiated conversation and asked her for the one thing she had to offer: water. It wasn't much, but it was a starting point. Sam could have filled her jar and headed back home, returning to her busy day. Yet she stopped and listened. She let Him speak into the broken, hurting, empty places of her heart.
Jesus intentionally met Sam in one of the loneliest parts of her day. And in the same way, He wants to meet us in the midst of our sometimes lonely and often imperfect lives, when our disappointments, pains and failures try to confirm our self-doubts.
Jesus is there waiting for us to come to Him.
He is there when we're going through the motions, aware of what needs to be done, but unaware of how we're going to do it.
He is there when we can't stop criticizing ourselves for blowing it the day before; when we go to work and wonder why we're even there.
He is there during endless days filled with diapers and laundry, wondering if we'll ever find meaning in the monotony.
He is there when we come home to an empty house and wonder why we don't have a family, or come home to a teenager who belittle us and a husband who ignores us.
Jesus sees our hearts and knows the pain of our loneliness, disappointment and rejection. Today He is pursuing us, inviting us to come to Him to receive the perfect love He offers — love that is patient and kind, love that keeps no record of wrongs, love that won't give up on us.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, will you stop and talk to Him? And then, will you quiet your thoughts so you can listen to His?
Dear Lord, thank You for pursuing me. I want to know and rely on the love You have for me, and live in the security of it! When I feel afraid, insignificant or alone today, help me turn to You and remember You are there! In Jesus' Name, Amen.
This devotion is taken in part from Chapter 2 of Renee's book, A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Live in the Security of God's Promises.
How does it make you feel to know Jesus understands, and He is still there with you in every moment of every day? When do you need His assurance and presence most?
"Jesus is the only One who can meet our deepest need to be pursued, accepted and delighted in simply because of who we are. We can offer nothing but our presence, and He will desire us just the same." From A Confident Heart by Renee Swope
Jeremiah 31:3, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." (NIV)
© 2011 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 09 November 2011.