I remember the first photo taken at the church property in Lilongwe, Malawi. It was just my husband and I taking the picture. There were bugs, hardly any way to get there – but we stood in the tall grass and said “Someday.” And now? Someday has come! Recently when we were visiting the church, I saw new faces, I saw old faces, and I saw that same piece of property with a wall fence around it and a couple of buildings. Oh yes, there’s still a long way to go, but Someday has come.
I remember when things first began to develop on the land. We decided to manually dig a well to help us with construction as there was no city water on site. It was the “common sense” thing to do since we needed water and there was no other water source nearby. It was quite a project just digging the well. There were stories of ropes breaking, water drying up because the water was very deep underground. It was a crazy time, but eventually, after much digging, water filled the well and construction began.
That little well was rarely without issue: the water would fill in very slowly, we had to dig deeper many times and then the sides of the well would give way and we would be back at square one. While we were thankful for the problematic well, we ached for the water problem to be solved.
Then one day…someone had a proper well dug for us. All of the proper equipment arrived on site and, after some more digging and delays, a well with a pump was on site.
The old well became obsolete, useless. I think the remains of it is out there in the field somewhere – but there’s no water in it. We are used to pumping water from the pump, why would we want to use the old well?
So many of us have tried to dig wells like this in life – and our success rate is not very good. When will we let Someone else get water for us?
Jesus once met a woman at a well (John 4). The Jews didn’t have dealings with the Samaritans as they were descendants of Jews who intermarried with pagan cultures when they were taken captive into Babylon. The Jews didn’t see them as “pure” and scorned their very presence; but Jesus didn’t see a hopeless woman that day at the well. No, He saw someone who needed water from a well that was far better than the old well she was accustomed to drawing from daily.
In this account, Jesus was in Judea and His ministry was growing. In fact, it grew so much that those getting baptized under His ministry grew more than those baptised by John the Baptist. I imagine that the Pharisees weren’t too happy with John the Baptist but when Jesus’ baptisms outnumbered John’s, I believe that Jesus was even more unpopular with the Pharisees than John.
Think about John the Baptist. He wasn’t, from what it seems, an easy person to be around. He preached repentance to a people who thought they didn’t need to repent. They were Abraham’s descendants and they thought that was enough, but this John the Baptist disagreed. He said, “Repent!” The religious leaders of the day didn’t take kindly to his warnings, he caused a kerfuffle for sure -John fulfilled his call to “prepare the way”for Jesus as the controversy Jesus would cause would change the history of the Jewish nation.
So Jesus, knowing it wasn’t His time yet, left Judea because of rising tensions among the religious leaders. The people He had come from, the Jews, were refusing His message but verse 4 tells us:
John 4:4 NKJ “But He needed to go through Samaria.”
This Jesus whose biological people refused to have anything to do with Samaritans “needed” to go through Samaria, where mostly Samaritans lived. He was purposely exposing Himself to the unwanted, unpopular, unclean, Samaritans – much to the chagrin of the religious and even those who followed Him. How could He be with those people?
In John 4:5-8 Jesus waited by Jacob’s well while the disciples left Him to buy food. Isn’t that like us today? Jesus is always waiting for us as we go away on our business. He’s at the well, He is the water, and we go far looking for water to quench our thirst.
“Wait here Jesus, I have to go get water, I have to find a way to draw the water.”
A woman of Samaria, a despised woman, found Jesus at the well. A normal Jewish man would’ve left her presence but she was the very reason Jesus “needed” to go through Samaria, He needed to go through Samaria to see her.
John 4:7-11 “A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, ‘How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.’ Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?'”
It was strange enough to this woman, a Samaritan, that a Jew was speaking to her, but He asked her for water. Custom dictated He have his own cup for water, He had “nothing” to draw the water with and the well, it was deep, but He was willing to drink from whatever vessel she would offer to Him.
In the same way, we struggle to believe that Jesus will make good on His promises. Our misgivings, our doubts come from the fact that we are looking from within ourselves how He will fulfill His promises. How will You do what You say? Our doubts, you see, come from our own insecurities.
Yes, the wells are deep. The wells are much deeper than this lady knew. We all have deep wells within us. We have limited the ministry of Jesus so much that He can’t work freely in us. We think He has nothing to draw with.
There may be deep wells of hurt and trouble in your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled.” (Jn. 14:1) How would you respond? Would you shrug your shoulders and say, “But Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw quietness and comfort up from it.”
What would you think if I told you that is correct? Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from human nature – He brings what we need from His well. We limit Him by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.”
We weaken, we impoverish, the ministry of Jesus the moment we forget Who He is: He is Almighty. The poverty is in us, not Him. We find it easy to come to Him as our comforter or sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as Almighty God.
This is why we fail to be great, powerful examples of Christianity – we don’t see Him as Almighty. We have some attributes of Christianity, we kind of look like it, we dress like it, we sound like it, but the impoverishment is there, the lack of power. Why? Because we’ve not believed in Him, we’ve not surrendered and taken our hands off.
When trials come, we limit His ministry with the attitude of, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to get to the bottom of the well, to reach some water to quench our thirst. You see we’ve been out in the hot sun all day long and we need water. The rope breaks, the well runs dry, we send someone to dig further and all that comes up is salty water. Then we sit back and say, “It can’t be done.”
Yes, the well of our incompleteness without Him runs so very deep.
But “common sense” tells us it cannot be done.
When will we tire of “common sense?” I’m tired of common sense, I’m tired of relying on what the world says is “common sense” or “logical.” The logical and common sense way of doing things doesn’t bring much help. It was common sense that Jesus couldn’t get water; He had nothing to bring the water up with. It was common sense that He shouldn’t have spoken to the Samaritan woman. But if you read on in John 4, she met Jesus, in a very uncommon sense way and her life was changed.
There’s a man in Luke 18:35-43 who was sitting by the road. Think about this man. He was sightless, by the road, alone. By all accounts in these verses, he wasn’t being cared for by family. Maybe he was begging? The common sense thing to do in those days for poor, blind people to do was to beg for money, food. But this man, on the side of the road heard Jesus was coming – and he did nothing according to common sense. He cried out, he made a disturbance. Vs. 39 says, “Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more…”
Giving up, listening to common sense, to those who say, “be quiet” will get you nowhere. When will you be tired enough to make a disturbance? To call for the water you need? Like the blind man, make some noise until you are face-to-face with your Lord. Where did common sense get you up til now? You make a god of common sense when you allow it to override your need for the Savior, for His well, full of water, is enough to fill your wells!
Finally in Luke 18:41 – Jesus asked this man, “ ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, I want to see.’”
When Jesus asks what you want for Him to do in the face of the incredible problem, remember, He doesn’t work in commonsense ways – He is supernatural.
We limit Him by remembering the boundaries we set in the past, “I’ve never overcome in this area; I won’t be able to overcome now.” If what we are asking is impossible, we’re on track. If it weren’t impossible, we wouldn’t ask Him, we would do it ourselves.
While it seems the man being healed from blindness is the greatest miracle, it isn’t. The most impossible thing is to be so closely identified with Jesus that there is nothing left of your old life. God will do this if you open your heart and ask. No more old me, no more old attitudes, no more unthankfulness, no more grumbling, no more “small sins,” no more deceptions, no more holding on to pain and unforgiveness, no more withholding myself in any way from God.
All of this agony we have lived through is of our own doing – it is a result of the deliberate shallowness of our hearts. We won’t believe; we won’t let go of the line that holds us to the shore of “common sense.” We prefer to worry because when we worry, we remain in charge.
What if we began trusting Him again today? The well is deep, yes, but He has all the water we need and the means to draw it out.
We’ve made it to the second week of our fast; it would be easy to quit but don’t quit yet. During this second week you’ll find that you have to push harder to get through but be encouraged, you can do this!