Almost every day I read my Bible. Not because I’m holy but precisely because I’m not holy. Not yet. Not this side of eternity. I need the word, devoured, nourishing me. Sometimes it feels like a meal. Sometimes it feels more like a chiropractor appointment: something is slightly or grossly out of alignment in me and must be put to rights. Like most chiropractor appointments I leave sore and shaky but thankful for the righting, the putting back into joint that which was crooked.
Today was no different. Today I was in John 4. One of my all time favorite stories. I love the Samaritan woman. Since I’m so familiar with it, I didn’t come expecting to learn something new. There’s that pride again. Don’t worry, Jesus took care of that. I pretty much got jumped from behind and beat up by this passage this morning.
Jesus is sitting by the well, waiting. By the way, I believe this is entirely a set up. He basically ran to get here and then displayed his exhaustion so his disciples would leave him alone. He had a divine appointment that he did not intend to be late to. So as he’s sitting there, here comes this woman, exactly the lady he was planning on running into. He looks at her and says, “Give me a drink.” Shocked by his forthrightness towards her the woman questions his motives, and probably sanity. “How is it that you a Jew would ask me, a Samaritan and a woman, for a drink?” I could go deeply into the implied racism and political strain she’s referring to. I could discuss evangelism tactics and Jesus’ care for the downtrodden and broken-hearted and outcast. This passage is rich with all of that. But quite frankly, that’s precisely what I expected to see and feel when I came to it this morning. However, that’s not at all what jumped out at me.
What struck me between the eyes is Jesus’ next response: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
He asked her for a drink.
She argued with him about why he was asking her.
He told her she should have asked him to give her even more.
To rephrase, the very thing that Jesus asked her for was what she should have turned around and asked him for. He was actually wanting her to redirect the question to him. He would have been beyond thrilled if her response had been, “No! You give me water!” He wanted to give to her what he was asking her for.
And the same is true of us.
There are so many things that I believe that Jesus has asked me to do: Callings, tasks, appointments, commands. I spend most of my time either trying valiantly to do them for him (as if he needs me to get my part done so he can do his part), or arguing with him about why he’s asking in the first place. I tell him I’m unqualified, unprepared, untrained. I tell him I’ve disqualified myself, ruined my chances, wrecked the situation. I tend to buckle down, gear up and strap in or throw up my hands in frustration and shame.
But Jesus turned it around on her and He turned it around on me.
The very things He has asked me to do, and there’s no arguing He has commanded, He expects me to ask of Him. He doesn’t expect me to do any of it on my own, or through my own strength. He commands it of me so that I will bring it back to Him and ask him to do it. And when I do, he doesn’t just give water, but the water of life. When I drink of Him, the water wells out of me and overflows, overwhelms.
I wept with the joy and relief of it. I am not failing. I cannot fail. Because it’s not my job. It’s his job. I need only ask.
Jesus commands, “Be a wife and mother”
I pray: Jesus, YOU be the partner and parent that my husband and children need. You fill up their hearts, meet their needs, comfort their hurts. Be the parents and partner that I need. Parent through me to your glory. Set me aside so that my loves may see you more clearly.
Jesus Commands: “Do ministry”
I pray: You do ministry through me. Bring me to the ministry you have for me. Prepare me for that ministry. Lead me to it. Lead me through it.
Jesus commands: “Be a good friend.”
I pray: “You be the friend, the true friend my friends need and that I need. When you want to, use me to love them well, but YOU are who they need, not me.
Jesus commands: “Pray”
I pray: “Pray for me Jesus, and through me and teach me how to pray. Make my prayers powerful and effective because YOU are the righteous man praying in me.
Jesus commands: “Give”
I pray: “Give to me Jesus. Be generous to me and then through me. Let me sit with open hands before you as you lavish your Self to me and fill my needs and the excess pours out all around me, blessing those near and far.
Jesus commands: “Forgive”
I pray: “Forgive me. Oh, I am the worst of sinners. Forgive me, Jesus, then let YOUR forgiveness flow through me to those all around who sin against you by sinning against me. All sin is ultimately against you, and you have paid the price for it. Let me be a conduit of YOUR forgiveness.
Jesus commands: “Love”
I pray: “Love me JEsus. I feel so unloved and unlovable. Pour out your love in my heart, open my heart to receive it. Let me believe it. THen let me give it. Let me love others not from my poor broken heart but from your full and whole heart!”
As I let go of trying to do any of these commands and instead ask Jesus for the very things he demands of me, I feel light. I feel free. I feel released from an impossible burden and yoked together under a light burden, and easy one.
He doesn’t need her to give him water. He doesn’t NEED any of us. We need Him. That’s the answer, the secret, the twist. Whenever we start to think Jesus NEEDS us, we’re off kilter, off center, out of joint. When we are thinking He needs us, it’s a sign that there is an area we need Him desperately, a place we need to come to Him and ask Him to do for us something we’re trying to do for ourselves.
I want that river of life flowing out of me. Let me drink deeply from it. Let me drink deeply of Jesus first, continuously, always.