…But Do You Even Want This?

There might be three types of people in this world: those who go throughout their lives never knowing their true potential, those who know their potential and spend their lives pursuing it with all the boldness and ownership of their destiny, and then those who hear their potential but cannot quite claim it.

This third type of person could be this way for a number of reasons:

…She might not believe in her potential because of what her past has told her.

…He might not want to claim his potential out of fear of the responsibility that will  come with it once it has been reached.

…She might find herself unworthy of her potential upon facing her own comparison to others.

…He might not want to do the work for what it will take to reach his potential.


John 5:

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

HAIL YES HE WANTED TO BE HEALED, JESUS.  

He was hanging by the pool because it was known for its healing powers, not because he was working on his tan.

Why would you even ask that??

Jesus knew this man’s potential.  Jesus knew this man could easily walk if the Son of GOD healed him, no problem.  All the possibilities of who this man had been and could be were within reach of Jesus’ omniscient nature, including the answer to this question.

So why ask that, Jesus??  Why ask if you want to be better?  Why ask if you want to be more than what you are right now?  Why ask if you want what you’re capable of, what you could do if only?

7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

Wait.  This man had been lame for 38 years, and the best excuse he had for not getting healed sooner had to do with people tripping on him?  This pool had to be a popular place to go, what with five colonnades and being known for its healing powers.  You mean to tell me every single person who went by him at the pool ignored the poor man completely??

Maybe I’m being too critical but, with what we are given, it would seem this man is  making excuses for why he hasn’t been healed yet.

And, in his excuses, he indicates a different answer to Jesus’ question to him.  Why not come right out and say, “Yes, I want to be healed!”?  Why was his first response excuses?


 

“It’s like you have this schizophrenic moment where you answer the voice beating you up inside your head,” he said, with a strange mixture of compassion and curiosity in his eyes.  “You can’t quiet the voice so you go ahead and speak out what it’s telling you–that you made a mistake or you missed something important.”

I sat on the other side of his desk and nodded in agreement, my chin down and arms crossed across my chest as if to protect my heart from the anticipated damage his lecture feedback might cause me.

He continued to read over his notes of what he saw in my recent lecture presentation, pointing out my strengths and opportunities to improve, glazing over the fact that he had in fact called attention to the sickness that is the voice inside my head.

He spoke about the voice as though it were just the price to be paid of someone who is extra critical of himself while presenting in front of any audience, as though the voice simply said things like, “You weren’t supposed to say that yet,” or “You are off from your notes and need to get back now.”

The truth is the voice has been there ever since I listened to the lies fed to me by the enemy of my soul.  The truth is the voice loathes my own voice and wants to weaken me where the Lord has gifted me.  The truth is the voice does not settle for cheap shots at my actions and behaviors; no, it goes for the kill by attacking and relabeling who I am.

His feedback was fair, honest, and tactful.  No fallen tears there.  But, it was the potential he called out in me that had me unsure how to feel.

Upon painting the grand picture of what he thought I would one day be capable of doing, he stopped what he was saying to look at me in the eyes and in doing so cocked his head to the side.

He asked me: “…But do you even want this?  Do you even want to do something like this?”

I couldn’t answer him.  

I never thought I would be capable of doing what he was suggesting was within my reach.  I have compared myself to people in my field for far too long to believe I could be good at something I thought I was truly the worst at doing.  I also wasn’t sure I could ever slay the fire-breathing voice he described as my main obstacle to overcome.

It was like he was asking me, “Do you even want to be healed?”  

And I didn’t know.


8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

 

It’s interesting that Jesus healed him with a call to action and not a “one and done” touch.  In that case, Jesus could have touched him and he still would have had the option to stay seated and not ever walk.

This man still had to choose to get up, choose to stand on the two feet he hadn’t used in 38 years, the two feet I’m sure he thought others would doubt, the two feet that maybe were not so deserving in his mind to be healed in the first place.

I think there are times when Jesus’ healing is contingent on us just getting up and walking.  Getting up and moving forward.  Getting up and forgiving.  Getting up and letting go.

I do not always love this about Jesus.  I would prefer to just be “one and done” touched and healed.  I would prefer for Jesus to wave a spiritual wand over me and I’ll never have to hear the voice inside my head tell me lies again.

Instead, Jesus offers me words and truth to exchange with the lies.  

Instead, Jesus offers me new labels and grace for my past.  

Instead, Jesus offers me the choice to get up and be healed in my change of thinking and behavior.

Instead, Jesus offers me the freedom to answer his question that accompanies the healing: “…But do you even want this?”


 

Welcome to Nineveh, Part Free.

Catch up with Parts 1 and Dos here and here, respectively.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.

Having just been spit up from the depths of the sea and the belly of a sea creature, having just experienced God’s mercy and power over all of nature, and having finally come to terms with what God had told him to do in the first place, Jonah obeys God.

For three days, Jonah goes through the motions of proclaiming the message God had given them. For three days, Jonah walked through what probably seemed like the streets of Las Vegas, preaching truth to people he was willing to turn away from completely just a few days prior.

And, probably to Jonah’s amazement, the Ninevites/Las Vegans (is that what you would call someone from Las Vegas?) responded with fear of the Lord. Even the king embraced Jonah’s warning, which is amazing by itself when you think about what it takes to completely change the heart and mind of a leader. 

God spared Nineveh. God reclaimed the people of Nineveh through Jonah’s obedience. That was His plan all along. And so it happened that way. 


 

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant[a] and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Forget Jonah really changing after his Swallowed-up-by-Sushi experience. Homeboy is still bent out of shape that God made him go to the one place he did not want to go in the first place.

This is one of those Bible stories that leaves me hanging, every time.

Like, really God?? You couldn’t have made this story end more cleanly? I mean, we really could have wrapped up this chapter with a completely different ending:

(See Val’s alternative ending) 

Verse 11 Jonah turned to the Lord and said, “Oh jeez, God. You’re so right. Silly me. I think I was allergic to that plant anyway. You always know best, Lord. You give and take away. And those crazy Ninevites? I’m happy they turned to you, and I’m even happier that You were You and showed them Grace. Now let’s go home, preferably not by way of a fish belly, please?”

Verse 12 And so Jonah never, ever ran away from God again. The end.

See how easy that was? But God let the story end differently. God made sure his plan for Nineveh came through, but He was willing to let Jonah pout.

Even while Jonah was so merciless as to sit outside the walls of Nineveh and *hope* to see God pour down His judgement on the Ninevites in some kind of spectacular, apocalyptic fashion, God was so merciful as to sit with Jonah and provide him with shade to comfort him.

And when God decides to take away the plant he provided Jonah, Jonah returns to his depressed state of mind, forgetting the One who has taken care of him all along in favor of the One who brought him to this darn-awful city in the first place. 

(Hand raised high in the air) “I do that. I remember God like that.”

I remember Him as the One who brings me to places I don’t want to be instead of remembering Him as the One who keeps graciously providing for me every step of the way.

Dadgummit. The parallel of this story has reached full-circle.

I am *gasp* JONAH.


 

But I don’t wanna be Jonah.

I don’t want to struggle in my Nineveh. I don’t want to stay in the belly of my grief. I don’t want to resent God’s plan for this new season of life. And I don’t want to believe He FAILED me when He brought me here. 

I want to be free from the belly, free from this state of mind calling out everything I see as part of my new ‘Nineveh’…

(I’ll get back to you on the freedom part. Until then, I have to wrap up with Lauren Daigle singing my current anthem:)

 

“Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move,
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You,
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”

Welcome to Nineveh, Part Dos.

Catch Part 1 here.

I thought moving to Texas for the first time would be the hardest thing I ever had to do.

That is, until I had to move away from there.

A little over four weeks ago I graduated with my Masters of Science degree from Texas A&M University. Four weeks ago I moved away from the life I had known for a year and half, leaving dozens of the closest friends, mentors, and church family I have ever had.

Throughout my life I have been well acquainted with sadness. I experienced seasons of depression throughout high school and early college induced by patterns of lies and self-destructive behavior. Because of these seasons I do not typically fear the rise or fall of emotions because God has been there to”ride out” the extremes with me.

However, the sadness that has greeted me since moving from Texas is an entirely different kind of sadness than what I’ve felt before. This sadness is a hollow ache that catches me off guard. This sadness keeps me from leaning into the things I usually find so delightful. This sadness makes me wake up in the morning believing I am 1,000 miles away from where I really am. This sadness is grief.

I am grieving. I am grieving the loss of relationships, the loss of people who affirmed me and loved me for who I am, the loss of wide open spaces and miles of adventure yet to be lived, and even the loss of a culture where boots-wearin’ men hold doors for women before they lead them to the dance floor for a two-step.

As I prepare to begin a career in Florida, I feel as though I am clinging to mere glimpses of hope—hope that I made the right decision a good decision, a worthy decision for all that I have given up.

But I have to tell you: I’m not so sure about all of this. I feel swallowed up by my grief, swallowed up by my remorse and confusion. The pain has me wondering if I will ever be able to embrace this new door God is pushing me to walk through.


 

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me.
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,
    and you listened to my cry.
You hurled me into the depths,
    into the very heart of the seas,
    and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
    swept over me.
I said, ‘I have been banished
    from your sight;
yet I will look again
    toward your holy temple.’
The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]
    the deep surrounded me;
    seaweed was wrapped around my head.
To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you, Lord my God,
    brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

I wonder if it took Jonah three whole days to come up with this prayer. I wonder if this prayer was the result of three long days and nights where Jonah’s rebellious heart was wrestling with the God who was willing to do anything to get his servant where He wanted him to be.
I also wonder if God was speaking to Jonah during these three days or was purposefully silent. I wonder this because it could have been God’s silence that forced Jonah to remind himself of the truths he prays in this passage. 

Regardless, I imagine whale/fish bellies can be a humbling place to be for three days.

Personally, I feel like I’m in the belly of my grief, barely living on a prayer to a God who is letting me wrestle with my perspective and His truth. I have a feeling He is willing to let me sit in the belly for as long as it takes.

To be continued…

Welcome to Nineveh, Part 1.

It’s amazing how quickly “I will go anywhere for you, Lord” can become “I will go anywhere BUT THERE, Lord.”

It’s amazing how quickly “What’s meant to be will be” can become “What I want to be cannot be” and so it becomes “What’s meant to be is clearly not for me.”

I’m going to say something sacrilegious, something that goes against every word of scripture I’ve ever read and praise song I’ve ever sung. I’m saying it because it’s how I feel, it’s where I am right now, and it’s what I’m fighting to understand differently.

God. Failed. Me.

Months ago, I prayed (if it be God’s will) a door would be opened for me. At that time, I fully trusted what was meant to be would be and God would come through for me. I prayed for wisdom and discernment about what would be the best choice. I prayed for God to lead the situation.

Time passed, and the door I had prayed for did not appear in time. (Instead, it was flung wide open weeks after it was too late for me to walk through it.) What I had wanted to be wouldn’t be, and so I was forced to walk through a different door.

And while I should have been able to see and trust God had something better for His glory in mind, it turns out His plan includes more pain, grief, and regret than I ever thought possible.

I feel lost in the crossfires of “Was God really in control of making the ‘right’ decision for me because I asked Him to lead?” and “Was this really my decision and He allowed me to make the ‘wrong’ choice?”

(In other words, was this really how it was meant to be or did I somehow intercept??)

I feel as though the Author of what is meant to be worked against me.

(You’re probably thinking this is just a spiritual tantrum because God did not act as my personal genie and grant my heart’s wishes. I’ll get back to you later on whether or not I agree.)

My prayer request was in line with everything I had come to learn about myself, learn about who I am to others, and learn about how He works over the last two years. I had wanted a door to be opened so that I might continue to grow and become the person I had discovered in that time.

But He thought differently for me.


 

Jonah had dedicated his whole life’s work to God and people. I’m sure in his life he had made plenty of heartfelt promises to go where ever the Lord led him. That was probably the case until Jonah was told to go to the one place he did not want to go.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa,where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Jonah probably had plenty of reasons to feel the way he did about Nineveh. He might have tried to come up with good, solid rationale for why he would instead head to Tarshish. I can almost hear him:

  • “The people of Tarshish need God just as much as the people of Nineveh.”
  • “I prefer the culture of Tarshish over Nineveh’s anyway.”
  • “There’s just nothing about Nineveh that screams ‘Welcome to Nineveh’ for me.”
  • “I know I’ve heard God speak before, but this time I could have heard Him incorrectly.”
  • “Nineveh is a lost cause. Why would God send me somewhere to fail, let alone struggle?”

As Jonah ran in the opposite direction, thinking he could outrun “what was meant to be,” What Was Meant to Be found him in the clearest, fate-spoken form of that time period.

Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.

But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”

Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”

He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.”

10 This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.)

There was no denying it now. God’s “meant to be” was clearly not what Jonah wanted. What is worse about this scene is that Jonah had to admit to disobeying the God he admittedly loved.

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?”

12 “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.”

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you,Lord, have done as you pleased.” 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the Lord, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him.

17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Talk about the Lord failing you.

(Survey question: how do you think Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” applies to Jonah’s life at this point?)

(And more specifically, how can I believe Jeremiah 29:11 applies to my life when the plans God has now made known to me are causing me so much pain and despair?)

(And YES, I know everything I’m saying at this point is skewed by my perspective on the situation. I know I should be positive and so thankful and trust God’s “meant to be.”)

(And by the way: Welcome to your Nineveh, Val.)

To be continued…

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.