What will I do with Jesus? I'll praise Him today and forever.
I met Jesus one hot summer afternoon. He came through our town of Sychar at mid-day.
When I first saw Him, sitting by our village well, He was alone, although I had heard people mumbling about Him and that He brought a group of His followers with Him. I watched from a distance and debated whether I should draw my water then, or wait until evening and draw with the other women. I was torn between avoiding HIM -- obviously a Jew of authority -- and avoiding the women who were openly antagonistic towards me. Either way, I didn't want to be harassed. I finally decided He was the safer of the two choices.
As I walked towards Him, my apprehension left. He had the gentlest, most compassionate eyes I had ever seen -- and there was the slightest hint of a twinkle in them when He looked at me. I was immediately comfortable with Him. Still, I was astounded when He asked me for water.
I had been inundated with laws -- both social and religious -- and it didn't even occur to me that a Jewish man would speak to me. One of the debates of the time -- one over which women became alternately furious and ruefully resigned -- was whether women had a soul; the so-called Masters spent hours at a time disputing the question, so it was especially surprising to me that a man of learning would speak to ANY woman publicly. AND the fact that I was a Samaritan would automatically have placed me outside the social range of a Jew.
During our ensuing discussion, which I'm sure all of you know, I sensed a freedom I'd never seen in any other person. And I wanted it...that life-giving water He had.
I was amazed -- but not particularly condemned -- by His revelation of my personal life. Admittedly, I had had several husbands, and, even in my day, that was unacceptable. It really was a matter of circumstance, though. A widow, divorcee, or single woman of any kind in our society was in a poor position. She had little physical protection, little possibility of financial freedom, very little of ANYthing. If by chance she had a close family with whom she could stay, she could lead a fairly fulfilling life. That, however, was not one of my options. After my father died when I was twelve years old, within a year later my step-mother forced me to leave home.
The first person who took me into his home and was willing to marry me was an older Roman who had once been a dignitary, but had fallen into political disfavor. He was kind to me, but all that mattered to the rest of the world was his nationality. So he was ignored, and I was shunned.
When he died, I, of course, was displaced. Laws didn't protect me and I had to find a home when and where I could. After marriages, ranging in quality from mediocre to absolutely terrible, I decided to forgo that particular formality so I would be freer to leave when conditions dictated.
I moved to Sychar hoping to find freedom from my past, but it followed and haunted me...and, once again, I was an out-cast, alienated from those around me.
Jesus' words made me hungry for more; more of that wonderful freedom I saw in Him. I couldn't contain myself and I ran throughout the village heralding His coming.
At first the others went to see Him to satisfy their curiosity. But those eyes, that voice, compelled them to stay. And as they stayed, as they sat at His feet to learn, they, too, experienced freedom.
Everything changed in the village after that. I was accepted by those with whom I now had a common spirit. Together they built a small house for me -- and I live there, alone. I no longer need the protection I sought in man; I am protected by my Lord. In my heart, God promised to care for me as He did the widow of Zaraphath, and He has been faithful to His word.
So, I will praise Jesus...for freeing me from the chains of society's law, religious law, poverty, and those other dark forces that sought to control my life and the lives of those around me. I was an outcast -- from both Jewish and Samaritan society -- and I now minister, and pour forth His love, to others who are the outcasts, wherever and whenever I see them. I can do no less for this Man, this God, who cared for me and brought me freedom.
This is Lenten monologue #3. The woman who performed this truly understood. She was divorced, and, as I recall, had been rejected by Christians who said the divorce was unacceptable. The "writer" was facing this, also, at that time. Consequently, it might sound a bit intense, but that's because it was. I had been rejected by the ladies at a former church when my divorce had occurred. However, unknown to me, God had placed me in this different church for this Lenten service writing to give me His acceptance and His very special "gift".