Belief · Christian Living · Encouragement · Faith · Grace · Hope

Leave Your Water Jar

John 4 captures one of my favorite interactions in the Bible. If you’ve never read it, I urge you to invest a few minutes and do so. The story centers around the town well and includes Jesus and a woman from Samaria. Historically speaking, Jesus {because he was a Jew} should not have had anything to do with anyone from Samaria. This encounter sheds light on the barriers Jesus came to demolish, and the labels we too often embrace.

 

Who was the woman at the well? What we know about her reads like an APB. Jane Doe {since we don’t even know her name} came to the well at noon and this is significant because, in bible times, woman would have drawn their water early to avoid the hot sun. So she arrived hours after the other women in town had drawn their water, hoping to avoid ridicule and looks of disgust. She was, after all, living with a man {her sixth attempt at love} who wasn’t her husband and the community had kept score. Her reputation preceded her.  She carried the heaviness of the labels everywhere she went.

 

{ Side note: I think we don’t know her name because it underscores how she was identified by the community and how she often identified herself—by the consequences of failed relationship attempts.}

 

Imagine her surprise when this stranger, clearly a Jew, spoke to her as she began to draw water. The conversation that ensued would have made the strongest of individuals shudder. He knew her. He told her things about her life that she knew she hadn’t shared with him before. She was both taken by surprise and intrigued.

 

Jesus reveals his identity to her and a dramatic turn of events follows. This woman, on mission to collect water for the day, leaves her water jar at the well and goes back to town {without the one thing she came for–and yet, with the one thing she didn’t know she needed}. There she rallied the community to come and meet the man that “told me everything I ever did.” She wasn’t rallying a hate mob, either. You see, she had been the ongoing recipient of a cloak of shame. Her mistakes became her identity and the label that motivated her decisions about simple, daily tasks. This encounter, however, was different. Jesus, knowing her sin, did not shame her for her failures. He offered her hope.

 

Shame is a tricky thing.  It’s tempting to shame someone else to feel better about ourselves. I’m guilty of using shame to control those I love and it’s a terrible admission. My pastor, Max Lucado, defines shame memorably. He says, guilt says I did something wrong. Shame says I am something wrong. Measure the encounter against that definition. Jesus didn’t shame her; he offered her an alternative to the way she’d been living.

 

Here’s the truth. Our labels, those given to us by others or adopted out of our failures, they lose their power in the presence of Jesus. He breaks through the barriers of our gender, ethnicity, failures, and social injustices.  After encountering the grace of Jesus, her mission changed. She left her water jar at the well. Urgency came over her and the water she desired took a back burner.

 

What is your water jug? What have you been carrying around, maybe sneaking around at times so no one will ridicule you, or condemn you? I wonder what would happen if you and I showed up at the “well” and met with Jesus. I wonder if he would steer us toward a new mission. Our labels lose their power when we bring them into the presence of Jesus. They no longer have to define us. No more shame, just grace.

 

Today I’ll leave the water jug of scarcity at the well. It’s a heavy load to feel inadequate, not enough, all the time. I believe when I set that water jug down, I’ll see the great provision of Jesus. He is enough. He did enough. He has enough grace for me.

 

Go ahead. Leave your water jug at the well and see what new thing He desires to do in you!

 

Water jug

4 thoughts on “Leave Your Water Jar

  1. I love your intuitive look at the difference in guilt and shame. I recently finished a book by Brene’ Brown which gave that same insightful definition.
    It was eye opening. Both for my own self examination and for how I think of others; treat others.
    Like you said, if only we would put ourselves at the well with Christ, what would He say to us. What would be the outcome?
    I’m so very grateful for the grace, hope and refreshing image He grants me despite all that I have in my past and future.
    Thanks for your reminder of that Alyssa.
    Blessings, Di

    Liked by 1 person

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