Forgiven

               I knew my life did not please Jehovah, but it seemed easier to make excuses than to change.   My father was abusive; my mother didn’t love me; how was I to know what love really looked like or felt like?

               “Do you love me,” I asked timidly, as the man I was with stuffed his mouth with the food I had prepared for our evening meal.  When he ignored me, I asked again.

               He finished sopping up the broth with his bread, carefully swabbing the plate before he shoved back from the table and looked at me, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.  “What’s this all about,” he growled.

               I thought back over my life.  It had been a string of failures: five men, five marriages…and now this one.  When he had first wooed me, I gladly came to him to avoid the beatings I received at the hand of my fifth husband.  By now, I was past any hope of redemption.  I had fallen out of the safety net that Jehovah had given His people concerning marriage.  No one bothered with me and I didn’t bother with them either.  It was just as well.

               I looked across the table wondering why I had even asked the question, but persevered.  Perhaps I just liked rejection and hurt. “I asked, do you love me,” I nearly shouted angrily.

               He laughed, throwing his head back as though it was a good joke.  “Love you?  What is there to love?”  He rose from his chair and came to me.  “You chose to be here,” he said tauntingly.  “I thought it was for this.” He roughly kissed me, and I knew I was a fool.

               I purposefully would go for water in the afternoon to avoid the cackling hens that drew their water from the well in the morning.  Who needs them and their looks of distain?  Not me!  No one really knows another or tries to know what is really inside.  No one really knew me.  I wondered if I knew myself.  Certainly the rough façade had been recklessly placed there to block out the world and its hurt, but inside, my heart was so full of heartache and hatred.  I feared that I would simply dissolve into tears if I took time to think of my life; so instead, I pushed on defiantly.

               “Give me to drink.”

               The words startled me out of my angry reverie, and when I looked up to see that it was a Jewish man who had spoken them, the hatred boiled out.  “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans,” I spat at him angrily.

               “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water,” He said quietly, but I was busy getting my water, ready to get away from Him as soon as I could.

               “Sir,” I said as I leaned over to catch the rope and pull up the pail, “thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.”  I sat the pail on the wall glancing sideways at Him once more.  “From whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”  The gab gave me some satisfaction, and I thought my caustic response would end the conversation.  I was wrong.

               He waited for a moment until I had filled my water pot.  I knew He was watching me, but I would not look at Him, afraid of what I might see.  Once again, that quiet, calm voice so full of love and gentleness spoke once more. “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

               Now I knew He was toying with me. “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw,” I said with a harsh laugh and turned to walk away, but He next statement stopped me cold.

               “Go, call thy husband, and come hither.”

               I slowly turned back to Him.  It was as though He was looking right into my soul and knew everything about me.

               “I have no husband,” I replied cautiously, wondering what He would say next.

               “Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”

               I wanted to walk away.  My face burned with shame.  Who was this man?  Surely, He was a stranger.  How did He know? I slowly removed my water pot from off my head and placed it there beside me, not wanting to speak, but needing to know.  “ Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

“Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  His words were not condemning even though I wanted to take them that way.  He spoke with such assurance, as though He knew everything, but there was no pride or arrogance about Him.

I stared at Him, trying to understand His words.  Deep inside of me something stirred and longed to continue to speak to Him, although I outwardly challenged everything He said. “I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.”

               He stared at me, saying nothing, as though answering the internal longing in my soul with only a look.  Quietly, oh, so quietly He spoke, yet the words thundered in my heart. “I that speak unto thee am he.”

               As I stared at Him, trying to comprehend the meaning of His words, wanting so desperately for them to be true, I heard footsteps approaching and voices whispering.  I could feel the tension in the air, and yet He stayed there wordlessly speaking to my soul.  And then I knew!  I knew!

               We went to Jerusalem that year, hoping to see Him again.  It was horrible.  I wanted to hate them–hate them all: Jews, Romans…but He wouldn’t let me. We saw Him carrying His cross.  We watched Him die.

               I’m not sure why His disciples doubted.  It still remains a mystery to me.  We had Him with us for two days; they had Him for three years!  He couldn’t stay dead!  The things He told us could not be true if He were dead!

               And now He IS alive!  He is with His Father, my Father, and my spirit unites with His in truth!  Is there any word so sweet as the word “forgiven?”  All the past and its shame are gone!

               I smile as I look across the room at my dear husband.  He looks up from the task at hand and smiles.  “Do you love me,” I ask.

               His smile broadens, his eyes beam.  “Oh yes.  There is so much to love.”

John 4:1-42

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