Thirst No More

Read John 4:5-42

“But whoever drinks from the water that I will give will never be thirsty again. The water that I give will become in those who drink it a spring of water that bubbles up into eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will never be thirsty and will never need to come here to draw water!”
~ John 4:14-15, CEB ~

Have you ever been so thirsty that even water doesn’t do the trick? I find that when I have worked out in the yard, or had a good bit of exercise, I seem to drink water by the bucketful, and still feel thirsty and parched. At those times, I will add one of those supplements to my water – you know, the ones with electrolytes and vitamins – because I know my body is dehydrated. I know that regular water, as good as it is, is not enough by itself. I need something more.

Isn’t life like that, too? We feel a yearning for something more, a desire for wholeness, for peace, for belonging, for love, but nothing we do seems to quench that thirst. We are spiritually thirsty, and no matter how we try to quench that thirst on our own, we simply cannot. We need something more, something that will rehydrate our soul; and not just once, but once and for all.

Jesus comes to Jacob’s well in Sychar in the country of Samaria to quench his physical thirst; and here he encounters a Samaritan woman who has a deep spiritual thirst. And immediately, he offers her living water, the truth she seeks. She tells him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.” (Jn 4:25). What joy she must have felt when this man, this Jesus who seemed to be able to see into her innermost being, replies, “I Am – the one who speaks with you.” (Jn 4:26). Could it be true? We are not given a detailed backstory, but from what Jesus says it is clear that her life up to this point had been filled with heartache and loss (she had had five husbands); that she was likely the object of shame and scorn from her community, of gossip and harsh judgment for her current living situation, which was a taboo in those days. We also discover her deep faith, her unquenchable thirst for truth, for God, for the promise of the Messiah, the Christ who would come and set things right. She was thirsty for God’s promises, for a life of wholeness and peace, a life healed and restored in God’s grace and love. She was thirsty for more, and she knew she could not find it on her own.

As human beings, one thing we share in common is our absolute dependence on water – we cannot live without it. As human beings, we also collectively thirst for a fulfilled and whole life, a life of belonging, a life in which we feel loved and accepted. Our spirit is parched and withered, yearning for that which we cannot get on our own. If we cannot physically live without water, it is also true that we cannot spiritually live without living water. We do not have to go far to find it – Jesus offers this priceless gift freely to all who will drink it.

In these uncertain times we face, we need to be people of hope. And, like the Samaritan woman, we need to share that hope. When she received an offer of living water, she didn’t keep it to herself, but shared it with everyone in the city, inviting them to come and see the Christ who offers the life and abundance that we all seek in some way or another. While we are practicing social distancing – and therefore not gathering in large groups for the safety and well-being of all – we can still offer hope, love, and grace to our neighbors. Let us witness to the One who claims us, who loves us, and who has promised us life and life in abundance, in all that we do, in all that we are. We live in hope, because no matter what happens, we know that God is with us – always. We need to share that hope, that promise that no matter what the future brings, God will walk with us, God will never leave us, and God will work for our good in the midst of all that we face. Drink the living water, and thirst no more. Amen.

Prayer for the Day:
Lord, you are the Lover and Healer of our souls.
You see us just as we are, recognizing our deepest longing,
and offer us living water to quench our thirsty spirits.
May we drink it and thirst no more, so that we can be people of hope,
offering love and grace, comfort and peace to a world groaning in anguish.
Give us the strength to face the future unafraid, for you hold all our days.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Living Water. Amen.

Surely, God, You Don’t Mean Me…

“Before I created you in the womb I knew you;
before you were born I set you apart;
I made you a prophet to the nations.”
~Jeremiah 1:5~

This verse always strikes at my heart – that God knew us before we even existed. This means that God knows better what we are capable of than anyone; God knows what our best selves look like, even if we don’t. In some sense this is great – God is rooting for you to be exactly that person whom God knows you to be. But on the other hand it can feel a little frightening, too – what wilderness is God calling us into? What parts unknown will we have to venture into as we move in directions that are not the familiar and comfortable ones we tend to stick to? Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me…

This reminds me of another reluctant servant who felt incredibly intimidated by the immense job that God was calling him to. You’ll recall the story of Moses who was surprised by a burning bush and the voice of God while tending his uncle’s sheep out in the desert in Midian. He uses every possible excuse he can think of: I’m a nobody – how will the Pharaoh of Egypt even deign to see me? (Exodus 3:11); God, I don’t know your name – who will I say has sent me? (Ex 3:13); How do I prove that you, God, are indeed the one who sent me? (Ex 4:1); God, I am not a speaker; and when I’m nervous it will only be worse. Are you sure you want me? (Ex 4:10). And then finally he comes out and says what he had been hinting at all along: “Please, my Lord, just send someone else” (Ex 4:13). Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me…

How many times have we just begged God to send someone else, to leave well enough alone? Everything is fine just as it is, God – I don’t want to rock the boat! Could it be that we are too afraid of failing, afraid of what people will think, too afraid of what will come next? Or are we afraid of growing into the person that God has known us to be since before we were born? So we might say: “Surely, God, you couldn’t mean me. Why don’t you just send someone else?” We seem to be particularly good at convincing ourselves that God couldn’t possibly need us, because surely there is someone else who is more talented and will do a far better job at whatever it is than us. We convince ourselves that God doesn’t really need us.

Most of us are not being called to lead the people out of Egypt as Moses was, or even to go and warn the people of the coming disaster as Jeremiah was. But, that does not mean that our call is any less crucial, any less vital to God’s story. That to which you are called is your role, your piece – and there is only one of you in this entire world. Remember that God knows what you are capable of. God created you with amazing potential. God believes in you and loves you. And because you are loved beyond human understanding, you will never walk alone. Even as God sent both Moses and Jeremiah out to do extraordinarily difficult tasks, they went with the unshakeable promise that God would never leave their side, no matter what is thrown at them in the course of completing their work (see Exodus 4:12, Jeremiah 1:19). Those same promises are true still today. When God says, “I’ll be with you,” you can stake everything on that promise.

As you read this blog, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking of that something that has been lying on your heart for a while now that you have been trying desperately to ignore? It could be anything at all. God calls us to all sorts of things according to our gifts – hospitality, visiting, prophecy, writing, creating, organizing, being a comforting presence to others, prayer – the list is endless. I pray that God will help you hear your call clearly, and fill you with the courage to respond. Hear God speaking to you in the words of Jeremiah 1:4: “Before I created you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart; I made you a prophet to the nations.” What will you say?

Be blessed, friends.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Mar