Jesus said to her, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4
She was so surprised that he talked to her, she almost missed it. He spoke of living water–water that would quench thirst once and for all–and she didn’t get it. I always imagine her as someone who looked older than her years. Divorced 5 times, she’d had a hard life. Who knows what kind of abuse she’d received and possibly even infflicted. I’m sure she was talked about and ridiculed and judged. Good, decent, law-abiding people most likely avoided her–guilt by association and all that. We can speculate at her life and the extent to which others shunned her, but we have written record of how Jesus treated her. He spoke to her. Acting against every convention of his society, he spoke to her. He asked her for water. He engaged her in a conversation. He invited her into a relationship with God. And as the barriers between them fell, she understood what Jesus’ offer of living water was and she eventually accepted it. She drank deep of the cool clear water of Life that Jesus’ offered her hurting soul.
Bedside vigils are tiring. Waiting with someone while they slowly die is a strange, sad, painful privilege. Brad and I have walked that road now three times, most recently with my dad. My sisters and mom and I cried a lot during those long days and nights at Dad’s bedside. We held his hand and whispered I love you’s and stroked his brow. We offered food until he could no longer eat. Then we offered water. Sustaining, refreshing water. His gulps from a cup became sips from a straw and finally, just days before he passed away, the straw became syringes of precious water. I’ll never forget the scene. My oldest sister lovingly giving him 5 ml dropper’s full of water. His lips dry and his mouth parched, he took in all he was able. Something sparked her memory and my sweet sister started singing the old Son’s of Pioneers song: Cool Water. Dad, who hadn’t spoken, for lack of strength, in more than a day, opened his eyes as much as he could. He recognized the tune and mouthed the words. We found it on youtube and played the cowboy song for Dad. He mustered up a weak smile–a mere shadow of his former dashing grin–and tried to sing along.
The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,
And way up there He’ll hear our prayer and show us where there’s water,
Who knew a dusty old country song whispered by a beautiful dying man could become a prayer? Dad knew the soul-quenching, Life-giving water and his life was, indeed, a testament to the power of Jesus healing. Dad was a fresh, bubbling spring touching each person he met with God’s kindness in him.
Who knew a broken, used, abused woman, minding her own business, could drink deep from an everlasting well and not only receive eternal life, but a healed life? John goes on to say that “Many Samaritans believed because of what the woman said…”. This hurting, bruised outcast found her voice and people listened.
We are broken. Each one of us carry burdens. Some are tired and weary today. Some suffer physically and others suffer hurts no one sees or notices. Whatever the pain, however deep the wound, Jesus offers the same, life-giving, life-sustaining, healing spiritual water. His invitation is clear.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ~Matthew 11:28-29