John 4 | It’s quiet hour, lonesome hour, outsider hour. A nameless woman in the midst of her everyday rhythm: wait out the crowd, heat of day, empty bucket, hike to fill. It was her getaway, her hiding place. Quiet hour. Back home is a kid or two crying and expecting and requiring of her, a man not bound by covenant ordering her around. Back home is shame and sin stacked high and a crowd of so-called neighbors leaving her unwanted and out to dry. So she hikes all-alone to Jacob’s hand-me-down well, to grab bucketfuls of the very thing that keeps her alive.
It’s quiet hour. It’s a chorus, a routine—but today she’s interrupted, her groove’s thrown right off. Water fills her little bucket for the thousandth time but a man’s voice from behind says, Woman, cast your bucket down. Won’t you give me a drink? She’s startled, how dare he! How dare he approach and address her, much less request of her, a woman of Samaria? How dare he invade her quiet hour? But He cuts to the chase. He states her details aloud, says He knows who they say she is. He knows who she goes home to, knows her heartache and all her history. He knows she’s lonely. He knows her sin, her shame, her scars, her scuffed-up edges. Better yet, what He knows of her doesn’t scare Him, disgust Him, catch Him off guard or send Him running. He knows what she runs to doesn’t fix her or do the trick, He knows why she comes at quiet hour. He knows her, every square inch.
It’s Jesus—the One she believed would someday come. She didn’t recognize him at first, for he looks plain ordinary and was alone—a rarity. But he took the long way here. He had this woman and their very encounter in mind. He makes the long haul for the outsider—she’s his favorite kind. He goes after the outcast, the left-out and thrown away. She hides, He seeks. It’s automatic and never by chance—he’s after our quiet hours. There’s no hiding place he can’t see. So in the gray of her quiet hour, He makes plain His own mystery. He lets Himself into the crevices of her heart, doesn’t require password or invitation.
This water, this well—it’s her everyday, her familiar. It’s what she knows. But Jesus hands her an invitation to consider something far better: Drink from this well and it will quench your thirst for the time being. It will sustain you today—until you come back tomorrow and all the other tomorrows because you’ll surely grow thirsty again. This bucket will always run dry. Come, try my kind of Water. It doesn’t just quench—it satisfies. You don’t have to walk far or reach down deep to get it. You’ll never run out or need to refill—instead it will become a spring of unruly, wild Living Water inside. It will well up within you to eternal Life. Come, get your fix and your fill. You want in? He offers her forever Life right then and there. She says yes and drops her bucket—she won’t be needing it anymore—and takes off running faster and freer than on the way here.
My heart’s got its fair share of quiet hours. Quiet hours I trek far and wide and weary to, hoping nobody dares to show up of-all-places there. Lonesome hours, where I arrive bearing an empty bucket, and head home to the expecters, the requirers, the conditional lovers with bucketfuls of what looks just like real thing. Outsider hours, where I can’t stop running to wells of stagnant water like that’s what keeps me alive. He meets me there every time, yet I’m always surprised He came to find me. One little encounter with my Jesus and I remember: I’ve tasted His kind of water and it satisfies.
This is a new routine, my everyday interrupted by J’s invitation. He’s not afraid of my quiet hours, and He knows I’m headed there—He’s got my tendencies back-pocket memorized. So He takes the long way. For He’s not too busy or too spread out or spread thin or too Jesus to show up to my quiet hour. It’s there I’m slowed down enough to pay attention, where He lets Himself into the Jacob’s Well of my heart. No password, no invitation. He enters my world to point back to the living Water so I remember He’s what does the trick. He reminds me, refreshes and recharges me until it’s time to drop my bucket and take off running. He comes to my quiet hour. He and I take our sweet time there. I forget who’s waiting on me or expecting me to come through. Because when Jesus comes after you and stops to pay attention to you and hears out your whole nothing-but-the-truth story, you forget why you came to the well in the first place.
Thanks for a season spent throwing on a blue dress and being her Wednesday after Wednesday. You wanted me to get it and I had to become her to get her! Thanks for knowing my depravity’s depths and handing me forever Life anyways. Thanks for coming to to where I’m at–just when I was tired of running.