Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Love Divine All Loves Excelling"1 (Lyrics)
John 4:10 – Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." (NIV)
I've been sensing an inclination among God's people: wanting too little from God. I call it Expectancy Deficit Disorder — EDD. We are at risk of wanting something less than what God has for us. We don't ask because we don't expect it.
That was the initial problem for the woman that Jesus met at Jacob's well. When Jesus spoke of her personal life, she redirected the conversation to an ongoing religious conflict:
John 4:20 – Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. (NIV)
Jesus did not take sides but instead announced an entirely different system of worship:
John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth. (NIV)
Connection with the Father would no longer be confined to location or religious practice — that is, place or form. That was an inflexible "old wineskin" worship system. Place and form were now replaced by spirit and truth through the living water, the Spirit ruling in the hearts of anyone who wants it.
At first, the woman asked for His living water so that she wouldn't have to trudge to the well anymore. But she wasn't asking for enough — not yet. Jesus helped her overcome her EDD, and then, she drank deeply of the living water. Soon, other Samaritans discovered it through her witness and His presence among them. Their lives were transformed. Amazingly, this entire event occurred outside any traditional place and form of worship!
Last year, I visited Jacob's well in the West Bank. An Orthodox Church now sits over the well. While visiting the site, I noticed bullet holes in the church gate and walls — signs of historical conflict. I say, people will keep fighting over "old wineskin" worship systems while they are afflicted with EDD: wanting too little. Oh, the anguish that results — even at the very location where Jesus offered something better.
The woman's social/religious status didn't likely improve much afterwards, but she had experienced living water. Now, she enjoyed favour and affirmation with God; no one could rob this from her.
That's what's so wonderful about God's best. We, too, need not rely on human power or structure to give it; and no human power or structure can take it from us, because it wells up from within. We can be satisfied with God's best, even where the worship system groans and cracks like rigid old wineskins. The Samaritan woman reminds us that we can be witnesses of God's best in any environment.
James 4:2b – You do not have, because you do not ask God. (NIV)
Do you want and expect God to provide you His best? Then, you'll definitely ask for it — perhaps like this:
Prayer: Merciful Father, use my church disappointments to awaken a thirst for living water. I want my satisfaction in You to grow ever deeper. Amen.