I started a new grad class the other day and the prof had us answer some classic “introductory” questions. What’s your name? Where are you from? What is your vocation? What are your personal interest and hobbies? Etc. etc. etc. I got this-I can answer these questions charmingly and with wit! But the last question threw me for a loop…she asked us,
“What woman in the Bible do you most identify with?”.
Oh…well that is not on my list of top ten questions people normally ask me. I had to think. Here is a snap shot of my inner monologue:
Hmm. Women in the Bible…okay…gotta choose one I identify with…one that I am like…well there is Mary, the mother of Jesus… I could never choose her-that seems prideful…there is Ruth, oh I love Ruth! But-I feel like that is too clique…I’m just a Ruth looking for a Boaz!…I’d feel lame…okay…Priscilla? Abigail? Deborah? Eh…nothings clicking… how about Esther…no, I am no Esther…Jezebel? Ha…awkward. Bleeding woman? Eh, I’m not in deep suffering…what about the Samaritan woman at the well?
The woman at the well! I like it!
So I pulled up John 4 on my computer and re-read the familiar story. Usually, when I read Scripture-I naturally read it just as a narrator-the way one would read an audio book. But this time I tried reading it as an actress-the way one would read a screenplay. It came to life! I could hear a breeze in the background (relief on such a hot day) and an overt sassiness in the Samaritan woman’s smooth voice. She is strong, self-reliant, and unafraid. She speaks her mind and asks questions when she has them. She confidently articulates her beliefs, and is eager to learn more of faith and eternal life.
I decided to affectionately call her Bekah.
A few minutes into Bekah’s intense conversation with Jesus he looks at her and suggests that she goes and grabs her husband. He would love to meet him and chat with him too! [This is the point in the conversation where Bek SHOULD have been honest and transparent with the man whom she is pretty sure is the Messiah, but instead-she is sneaky]. “A husband? Oh, I am a single woman, don’t you know. I don’t even have a husband. [insert pathetic ‘woe is me’ face, accompanied with a heavy sigh].” Jesus doesn’t miss a beat. “I know you aren’t married…but you certainly aren’t single. You are not married now-but you’ve been five times! And right now you are living with/sleeping with a man who you aren’t married too.” Ouch. Jesus. Talk about just ripping off the band aid! Bekah was trying to be “vague” and “politically correct” (aka deceptive)-our Christ would have nothing of it. In identifying the truth of her statement, Christ is saying:
“I’m not going to dance around your sin to make you feel more comfortable or loveable. I am not going to ignore your lifestyle and pretend that it doesn’t offend me deeply. It does. BUT even though I know your deepest sin, I’ve still been talking to you this whole time. I still want to give you the water that will satisfy every thirst. I still want you to know me.
I can identify with the Bekah in many ways. The two primary ones being:
a) Bekah and I both too often try and smooth over our sin against God. My “I don’t have a husbands” come when I think I can fool him and make sins small, acceptable, and insignificant. When he convicts me of one thing, I point at something else-or try and bury my sin in half-truth, hoping he won’t see right through me. Guess what? He does. He sees right through my sin that I try to wrap up in a pretty bow, and still calls me daughter.
b) Bekah and I both want to tell people about our experience with Christ. It is not just enough to experience it for ourselves-joy comes from sharing! I both have and want more of her vivacious “gotta tell them” spirit. we both see that we are pretty awful-but God is incredible and people need to hear it.
Bekah’s response wasn’t anger or shame-because it wasn’t a response to her sin being revealed. Her response was one of gratitude and worship to her sins being forgiven. The messiah, the Savior of the World, introduced himself to her, in all her wickedness, and said, “despite everything in you-I want you to take freely of everything in me.” God foreknew all my sin. Every grotesque offense against him, he has already known about even before he made the first sun rise. He has already seen it, and he STILL chose to adopt me as his daughter. He STILL wanted to make himself known to me, have a relationship with me, hear from me, and have me grow in love and knowledge of him. KNOWING THAT makes me want to leave my water jug behind, run into a city and tell people to come and see this God man-the Savior of the world.