Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. John 4:6 (NIV)
I’m exhausted. Overwhelmed. I’m weary, and the harder I try to figure out why, the more restless and frustrated I become. I’ve tried really, really hard to rest, but I don’t know how. Ever been there? In the fourth chapter of John, Jesus is traveling from Judea to Galilee and scripture tells us he had to pass through Samaria. At noon, tired and exhausted, Jesus takes a break from his journey next to Jacob’s well. Come sit with Jesus for just a little while.
He waits for us at the well, because He knows what’s keeping us from true rest.
It doesn’t take Jesus long to meet a woman. She’s got her water jug, and she’s come to fill it. It’s scorching hot, but she knows she will be able to avoid the crowd this way, so she makes her way to the well… at noon.
Noon is the time to rest. This is a woman who does not know rest. She chooses to haul her water jug to the well during the most uncomfortable and inconvenient time of day. This is a woman who is thirsty. She understands rejection all too well. She is failing and she knows it, so she hides. As she approaches Jesus, He invites her into a conversation that will alter the rest of her life.
Jesus: Will you give me a drink?
Woman: You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus: 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.
(See John 4:7-10)
The town where she lives is called Sychar, meaning ‘drunken.’ I think about the words she hears Jesus speak at this place of shame and disgrace and frustration, and I wonder how many different drinks she’s tried until this man comes along and talks about a new drink she’s never tasted… one that will end all her trips to this well.
Jesus: Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
Woman: Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.
Jesus: Go, call your husband and come back.
Woman: I have no husband.
Jesus: You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.
(See John 4:13-18)
Jesus’ words make her just a tad bit uncomfortable, so she steers the conversation towards something else: worship. Jesus knows she has a worship disorder, so He responds by defining true worship.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
Clearly she’s tried men. I wonder where else she goes to quench her thirst. I wonder if she turns to other relationships, parched and dry, assuming this friendship or that friendship will give her what her heart longs for. I wonder if she realizes how intoxicating this pattern really is. I wonder if she’s thought about how much effort it takes to carry that heavy jug. I wonder if she knows she doesn’t have to haul it around anymore.
Perhaps she believes that these relationships can meet her needs, but somewhere between Jesus’ offer at the well and His words about eternity and all the hidden baggage He so lovingly pulls out into the open without a shred of condemnation, she realizes it isn’t working. Her efforts are futile and laborious, and even in spite of all her striving, she still feels rejected. And she can’t make her own heart stop throbbing.
I am this woman. I am at the well striving instead of resting. I haul around this awkward, heavy water jug. I’m so thirsty, but I’m constantly settling for something other than living water, and it never fully satisfies. In fact, it does the opposite of quench my thirst; it almost always makes me feel worse.
God created women- in His image- to be relational. It’s who we are. Yet our relationships were not intended to sustain us. God, in perfect love, designed it that way so that in our pain and brokenness and confusion and intoxication, we might turn to Him and set the water jug down. No rope, no bucket, no effort required. Just Jesus.
Sometimes the most courageous thing we can do is set down our water jug at Jesus’ feet.
As Jesus invites this woman to step into the light, for the first time in her life, she doesn’t run away. She doesn’t try to hide. Because she realizes He is right. Jesus offers her something she’s never tasted before. She hates coming to this well, and she hates feeling the ways she does. So she listens. She finds deep within her the courage to believe this man who offers her living water, and she drinks.
She begins to learn what rest feels like and how it can ease her weariness. She chooses to trust Jesus enough to respond to His love. Then she finds that she’s not thirsty anymore. Somewhere along the way she realizes she has a story to tell, and her story draws others to Jesus. In the end, God shows her why He gave her relationships in the first place: to further His kingdom.
May we be women who trust Jesus enough to sit down and rest with Him. May we find the courage to abandon our water jugs and drink of His love instead. May we walk in the truth, aware that the only One worthy of our worship is Jesus and all other worship just makes us weary and exhausted. May we cherish our God-given relationships and allow Him to use them to make the name of Jesus known.
And all the weary women who are flat out tired of trying said… Amen.