John 4: 1-27
Take a moment to be still and to pray ‘Come, Holy Spirit’ before reading the scriptures. If you are in the company of others, invite someone to read the text aloud.
If you are gathering with your family, invite someone to read this reflection aloud.
Life with Jesus is simple, right?
In one sense, it is as simple as breathing. In another sense, it is about as simple as breathing whilst running up four flights of stairs. And yet, both are healthy, normal, anticipated reactions.
Why then do we often try to hide when we’re out of breath?
Last week, I was out hiking with a friend, and we hit a steep hill. Our conversation quickly turned into a monologue as I began to ask short questions that required a lengthy response in an attempt to camouflage the fact I was struggling to breathe – Joe Wicks was not a feature in our house over lockdown. This worked for about five minutes until my body forced me to stop. Once I acknowledged I was pretending to be fitter than I was, I took a number of deep breaths. Then I felt myself regain capability for the rest of the hill.
I feel like some of us have been trying to camouflage the fact that life with Jesus hasn’t been simple lately. Underneath the façade are lurking questions and doubts that shame and fear have kept under wraps for far too long.
Can I let you in on a secret?
Jesus isn’t intimidated by your questions.
I don’t think there is a single question or doubt that He hasn’t already been asked. I think He is much more concerned about you not asking the questions you need to in order to move the conversation forward.
In John 4, Jesus, tired from His journey, stops at a well. (Side note: Jesus, in His full humanity, was tired and He stopped. He didn’t power on up the hill, He stopped to breathe. It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you!)
At this well Jesus encounters a woman. They begin to converse about the water in the well. In Verse 10, Jesus speaks symbolically of ‘living water’. The woman misunderstands Him, thinking He is referring to a running spring. In response, Jesus unpacks what He meant by ‘living water’ and explains how it symbolises eternal life. Again, the woman misunderstands Him for a literal meaning, and asks for a drink of this water.
I love the realness of this conversation. At multiple points, this woman misunderstood Jesus. She got it wrong; she missed what He was saying. She didn’t hide her confusion, nor did she mask her questions. She was unashamedly real with where she was at. And in response, Jesus didn’t get cross with her. He didn’t head off to find someone more intellectual who would understand. Instead, He patiently walked her through their conversation, letting her questions bring her on a journey to an even better revelation than she could have imagined.
The story crescendos to Verse 26 where Jesus reveals himself as the Messiah to her. This is the first time this happens in John’s gospel.
In some ways, loving and knowing Jesus is so simple, but in other ways, it’s really easy for us to misunderstand Him. I think we need to be more like the woman in this story. We need to be okay with asking our questions, and we need to be honest with where we are at. Life with Jesus is always an ongoing conversation. There is no shame in admitting when you are out of breath.
Here are some questions that may be helpful as you prayerfully reflect::
What are your questions about God at the moment? Can you even articulate what you’re wrestling with?
What aren’t you wrestling with at the moment?
What do you know is true?
Jesus was a safe space for this woman’s misunderstandings. Other than Jesus, do you have someone who you can be real with? Someone who is a few steps ahead of you. Someone that is a safe space for you as you wrestle, who you can ask questions of without feeling like you’re going to burden them?
Depending on which time of day you are practicing this office, you can use the morning or evening prayer. All to pray the following words aloud.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi
If you are gathering with your family, wait a moment and listen for the voice of God. Prayerfully share any words, pictures, encouragements or scriptures with each other by the laying on of hands.
Whether you are by yourself, or in the company of others, take time to pray for others that the Holy Spirit brings to mind, blessing them in His name.
Close your time by singing or saying aloud the Doxology.
“Fight back the dark with doxology. Doxology can detox the day.”
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Amen and Amen.