Publix Flowers, Bar Options, and the Woman Surviving on Well Water

My PUBLIX Endorsement: Publix Super Markets, Inc. may be the second happiest place on earth, next to DisneyWorld. They’re just awesome. I went on an industry tour inside their distribution center in Jacksonville, Fla., and I was amazed by the high quality they demand, and deliver, through their services. 

Not to mention they gave our group flowers. Who doesn’t appreciate a beautiful bouquet of flowers? Even The Single Guy in the crowd can find a good-looking girl or mother to give them to. 

Anyways, this post isn’t about how awesome Publix is or that every man should become acquainted with their floral section of the store (although both statements are true). 

This post is about how I managed to leave my flowers over night in my car, let them roll around in the back seat with who knows what else, become semi-smushed and wimpy looking, and then finally remember to take them out of my car to be placed in a water-filled vase so that they can actually carry out their purpose in life: to bring beauty to our lives. 

At this point, I had little hope that these poor, wilted flowers would ever perk up, even with access to water. I cut the flowers’ stem ends so that they would properly fit the vase I had, which also made me doubt their chances of looking any better than what they did. (Although I took horticultural classes in high school, I spent more time studying plant varieties than actually getting my hands in the dirt. This theme seems to follow me in other areas of my life, like relationships.)

In case you were wondering, the picture you saw in this post is in fact the same flowers I’ve been describing after one day of sitting in water. How did the miraculous recovery come about, you ask? It was simple: water.

Water turned my bouquet from over-dyed, sad-looking weeds into vibrant, alive-looking flower blossoms. Call me crazy, but I think God is showing me that it could be that simple to make me blossom again too.

Water. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. I feel like that is the story of our lives, sometimes. The entire world is offering us liquid for our souls, something to quench the thirst, and wet our throats gone dry from screaming and crying for anything that will just satisfy the innate aching we keep feeling and cannot shake.

The other night, some family members came into town and were gracious enough to invite me to dinner with their friends. After arriving early to the restaurant, I sat down at the bar to wait for them, unsure of how many in our dinner party to expect for seating purposes.

DISCLAIMER: The following does not impose any particular beliefs about the consumption of alcohol and Christianity. Please separate what I am saying from what you may believe or think I believe. 

As a twenty-year-old college student raised in a home where alcohol of any kind was not consumed, it was a strange feeling to sit at the bar of this restaurant. I had dressed up beyond my usual T-shirt and jeans for the night, and so I imagine I probably did not look my age. Thus, I do not blame the female bartender for placing a drink menu in front of me and pitching to me the day’s drink specials and selections. I smiled and told her thank you, but chose not to embarrass her by telling her my age or that I was not interested. Instead, I asked for a glass of water and waited for my relatives to come.

It would have been very easy for me to have ordered a drink from that menu. Even once my relatives arrived, I would not have been questioned about the appropriateness of me drinking at dinner as they don’t know my age, nor would they have thought twice about paying for it. But, beyond the legal and physical implications that ordering a glass of wine would have meant for me, I knew that nothing but a glass of pure water would truly provide my body with what it was really craving. I knew that refilling my glass of water would be easy. I knew that as my thirst quencher, water would continue to do the job with every sip I took.

It’s the middle of the day. The sand is fiery hot on the bare feet of Samaritan citizens. The town of Sychar looks deserted except for a few brave souls wandering the streets. A woman, known by the townspeople for the many divorces she had endured, makes her way to Jacob’s well to fill her bucket with a day’s worth of relief from her parched tongue and heart. She treads lightly and quickly to the well, keeping her eyes directed forward and hoping that no one would draw attention to her. Upon reaching her destination, a pang of fear struck her as she saw a man sitting at the well. As always, she channeled her fear into the strength of her walls she had built around her heart, remembering the pain that people, that men especially, had caused her. She recognized this man to be a Jew.

A Jew! Why was a Jew here, in this crazy, small town of Samaria, at this time of day? The woman was annoyed that this Jew was here during the one time of the day when she could be alone, be away from the stares and the whispers and the reminders of her past. All she wanted was some peace and quiet and a bucket of water to satisfy her thirst so that she could brace herself for the next day ahead. The woman was just trying to get by. That was the story for all of her life it seemed. Just trying to give her life something to live off of, something to fuel her and give her a reason to wake up. Lately, the well’s supply of water was her motivation.  Sure, in years past she felt like she had more to live for. She had beauty that everyone marveled at. She blossomed when she was around people. She loved life, and life seemed to love her. But now…now too much had been done. When she went to the well for her daily water fill, she would gaze at her reflection in the water and no longer see who she once was, the vibrant flower of Sychar. Instead, she saw a woman hated and pitied, scorned and forgotten except by the men who used and abused her. Five different men had divorced the woman; five different men had publicly told the town ,”She is unworthy, unlovable, unclean, and unfitting as a wife.” The only reason why she was living with the man she was with now was to avoid begging from the townspeople who mocked her, to keep what little remaining pride she had left. Thriving was no longer an option; surviving was the goal, and the well gave her another day. The Jew interrupted her thoughts with a question, “Will you give me a drink?”

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know;we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

John 4:9-26, NIV

The point I want to make with this scripture is that the living water Jesus offers is the kind that not only fills us, but fulfills what we long for. I believe the Samaritan woman was just trying to get by, living off of daily well visits she needed not just for the water supply, but for some relief from her haunting past and hurts. Many times, we turn to the “liquid” sources offered by the world to satisfy our souls’ thirsts; these sources can include alcohol, drugs, shopping, shallow relationships, wealth, or achievement.

My flowers needed fresh water. Nothing else would make them perk up like filling that vase with water from the sink. But, in a few days, even that water will have to be poured out and replaced with new. Like the flowers, we are offered a source of liquid that will revive us without question or doubt. We are offered a constant supply of this water. This living water is the Spirit of Jesus Christ living inside of us. Jesus says that if we drink it, we will never become thirsty again.

However, He doesn’t actually say here that it’s “one sip and done.” I think most of my life I’ve read this scripture and assumed that somehow if we just had “one sip of Jesus,” (like how one kiss revived Sleeping Beauty) we would never become thirsty; we would be healed, fixed, made happy and whole. Yet, there are many days when I don’t feel healed, fixed, made happy whole. There are days when I just feel plain dry. What’s the deal with this living water that won’t make me thirsty again?

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The Samaritan woman was used to having to work for her relief, for her thirst-quenching water. She was used to going back to the source everyday. I think she would understand what Jesus meant by this statement better than I did initially. I believe Jesus was explaining that the living water He offers, the Spirit living inside of us, is all-filling and all-fulfilling. You’re not left thirsty after drinking it. You’re even given a supply of it to have with you at all times. No more searches for the source. No more daily quests just to satisfy for a short period of time.  The well is inside of you, and its spring bubbles up with water that leaves no part of your soul untouched. But we have to drink it. We have to choose to drink it daily. Its waters welcome us, invite us to take and drink and be filled and fulfilled. But as crazy as it sounds, it is possible for us to walk around carrying the well of living water supplying the liquid source we need, and we still choose not to drink of it. Instead, we allow ourselves to grow dry and weary and wimpy like my pitiful flowers before I brought them inside. We end up thirsty again and look to other sources of liquid from the world.

Call me out if you don’t agree, but in this scripture I can hear Jesus saying:

“Look, if you will let my Spirit live in you and drink of it daily instead of seeking these other sources to fill you, my living water will keep replenishing itself in you as you drink of it. You’ll never be in need of another source because I will supply you with everything you will ever need. You just have to trust me here.”

Lord, if this is really true, if this is really all it takes to revive my soul and satisfy my thirsts, accept my trust in You here. Let me take a big, GIANT gulp of your living water, and then welcome me again tomorrow when I need more of you. Help me blossom with your radiance and glory beaming through me like vibrant colors of flower petals in full bloom. I ask this not for my own personal beauty, but to showcase the ever-replenishing source of hope, truth, joy and love that I drink from daily to live. Thank you for making blossoming easy. And thank you for Publix. Amen. 

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One comment

  1. Marsha Metzger · November 9, 2012

    beautiful….

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