As I approached my Bible this morning, I must admit I was thinking almost as much about the upcoming "Homework Date" I had with one of my daughters in less than an hour as I was about having a quiet and spiritual experience. (Homework-- I am 42 years old and think I may dislike it as much as my kids.) When I looked at the passage for the day, I quickly thought to myself, "John Chapter 4... Samaritan woman... Got it. This should be quick. Maybe I could even fit in a second cup of coffee before we started drilling complex vs. compound sentence structures and gathering printable images for fifth grade writing journals." Then, as I started reading the passage, I saw things I'd never really paid attention to before:
He stayed there... no longer because of what you said... we have heard for ourselves...
Now, don't get me wrong; I love it when God takes obvious things and reveals Himself afresh, but honestly I wasn't expecting it this morning! I knew this wouldn't be a quick read, so I immediately jumped in, reading and journaling, still hoping somehow on the other side of this appointment with my Father that I might find a few extra minutes for another cup of joe.
"They asked Him to stay there, and He stayed two days..." Every time I've ever heard the passage preached, I've heard about the ongoing conflict between Samaritans and Jews; how they despised each other, and how Jesus' choice to traverse through Samaria would have been completely unacceptable for any self-respecting Jew. I knew that. I even knew about the societal implications of Jesus conversing with a woman... What I'd never done was to continue thinking beyond that point and to realize that once the woman shared her testimony, the people desired for Jesus to stay there... AND HE DID. I had always envisioned this story as a whirlwind, off-the-beaten-path sort of episode, but it wasn't that. Jesus, a Jew, willingly chose to spend time there... in that place... with those people... Why?
Perhaps it was because the people needed time to "connect the dots." Their initial response to Him was rooted in the testimony of the Samaritan woman, but only 2 days later their story had changed.
And many more believed because of His word. They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world..."
This created in me a new realization that a commitment to share the gospel might require an investment of both sacrifice and surrender. Maybe, in order to share the gospel with someone who needs to hear it, I will not only have to go through a distasteful place, but maybe even STAY there for a while until others can "hear for themselves."
These are the questions I am pondering today:
- What places/people/situations might I consider to be my own "Samaria"?
- Is God leading me there?
- Am I willing to go?
May we each answer these questions well.