SHE HEARD is the first for-purchase devotional published by Deliberate Women. Over the next eight weeks, we'll be reading reflections written by our readers of the eight Biblical women featured in SHE HEARD. Up today: THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL
When I read the stories from Biblical times, I think about how God still works in the same ways in all of our lives today. When you think about it, the Bible is just a collection of testimonies of how God has worked in the most unlikely ways in people's lives. The Woman at the Well is just one of many of those testimonies that made it into the written form of the Bible. We all have stories of how God has changed our lives, met a need, answered a prayer, got us off-guard, or surprised us in unexpected ways in our current 21st Century. Our stories are no different than the Woman at the Well.
I could call my story “The Woman at the Bench”. You see, just like the Woman at the Well, I was feeling rejected, isolated, embarrassed, humiliated, as I picked up my kindergartner from school. My husband at the time had betrayed me, and in a small town, word of a troubled marriage travels fast. Like the Woman at the Well, I had to face the crowds of happily married mothers as I headed out to pick up my son. I, too, would sometimes arrive late to miss the crowd, or I waited away from others to avoid the chatter. This particular day, I sat alone, waiting on a bench.
As I sat, I heard a semi-familiar voice call my name. An old colleague, not a friend, or anyone I had ever spent time with or confided in, sat next to me. She said, “Sara, I’m not sure why, but God has put you on my heart and I want you to know that I am praying for you.” I began to cry instantly with this person that I hardly knew. You see, there are no coincidences in life. Just like it was no coincidence that Jesus had to travel through Samaria that day and needed to rest at Jacob’s well at the precise time the Samaritan Woman was gathering water. God placed Jesus there that day with the woman for a reason. God worked the same miracle for me in the year 2012 as I sat on that bench.
The Woman at the Well probably had prayed for help in some human, earthly way, to get her out of the situation she was in. She needed provision, she needed protection, she needed acceptance and love….the same that I needed in 2012. Think about the Earthly answers we hope for in those types of prayers:
But, Jesus told her that day that God’s living water is the answer. People and things will not quench our thirst. Jesus told her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him, shall never, no never, be thirsty anymore. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water, welling up within him unto eternal life.” (John 4:13-15)
The answers to our problems, our rejection, our loneliness don’t lie in earthly answers. If we want to truly be quenched, we must surrender it all to God and accept His love for us in our hearts.
Shortly after explaining the “living water” to the Samaritan woman, Jesus tested the woman. He asked her to “go call your husband and come back here.” She answered Him truthfully when she said that she had no husband. I was also tested after the day on the bench. My colleague dropped off a daily devotional for me to start reading and I felt like God was saying, “If you want My help, come and get it.” I had a responsibility to respond to God’s calling. I had to give Him my life and my heart truthfully. I began to drink that “living water” (some might call it the kool-aid) and over time, I felt my life changing. God revealed to me that His promises for my life were true, just as He revealed Himself to the Woman at the Well. He proved to her that Jesus was the Messiah by giving her an account of her life. God still reveals Himself to us today. He has proven His faithfulness to me in unbelievable ways. The woman had to be truthful with Jesus and He requires the same of us. I don’t think God is as concerned with my steps or missteps as He is with my intentions. I belive He knows when I am truly seeking Him and trying to hear His voice and walk in His ways for my life. He patiently guides me, steers me and waits on me if I get lost. This is a relief for me these days. God didn’t answer my prayers to save my marriage…in fact I got exactly the opposite, a divorce. As a 40-year-old, divorced mom of two, I have a lot of new paths to navigate. I have screwed up trying to do the right thing, but God has never left my side. Once the Woman at the Well accepted Jesus and began her testimony, I believe, He never left her either. God doesn’t want us to be afraid of life, He wants us to have faith that He has us covered.
My trust in God and in His plan has been tested many times since that day on the bench. We are so used to immediate gratification in this day and age. How many wrinkle creams have we thrown away because we didn’t see results right away? How many diets or exercise programs have we given up on? We are a “quick results” oriented culture. God isn’t into the easy way around, but rather the journey through. And just like the disciples showed up to see Jesus talking to the Samaritan Woman (also not a coincidence), silently judging the situation, we will be judged on our journey as well. This Earth is full of people ready to remind us that we are not good enough or perfect enough, but the Woman at the Well reminds us that perfection is not required for God’s love. His love is not about who we are, but rather who HE is.
Jesus later explains to the disciples when they try to offer Him food that they can’t even begin to understand the “nourishment” He has. He says, “I have food to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea.” (John 4:32) Jesus points out that not even the disciples could truly understand the provision, protection and love that come from God. Neither do we! How many times do we fail to trust? How many times do we sit back and judge a decision made by someone in the name of God? I have watched more than one friend do something completely illogical because they felt like God was calling them to it and they trusted in His plan. God’s love can make Christians do some things the world would consider crazy, but His ways are not our own. I’m sure the Woman at the Well got some crazy looks at first when she shared her testimony. An unlikely person to be sharing such an incredible encounter, but God doesn’t work within our limited perspectives. No one would believe 4 years ago I would be writing this reflection today, least of all me. But God has a way of working in the most unexpected ways through the most unexpected people…not just at a well in Samaria, but also on a bench at Lakeshore elementary.
Finally, in John 4:39 it says, “Now numerous Samaritans from the town believed in and trusted in Him because of what the woman said when she declared and testified, 'He told me everything that I ever did.'” How very important our testimonies are today as they were back then. You never know how God might use you, your story, your testimony to bring someone closer to God. He used practically a stranger for me. He used a Samaritan Woman at the Well…How will He use you? Our greatest purpose is to be used by Him.
Sara Gleason is a 5th grade language arts teacher in Conneaut, Ohio. She is a single mom of 2 amazing kids, Max (10) and Hope (8). She loves being outside- building fires in the backyard with her kids, grilling out, kayaking, taking a hike with her dog or hanging at the beach. She attends church regularly and teaches Sunday school, but shockingly, sometimes chooses to sleep in or hand off Sunday school to someone else when she is tired or burned out! She lives a not-so-perfect life in a not-so-perfect house with a perfect God in the center of all of it all!