Sunday, March 27, 2011

Lord, Give Me This Water (A Reflection on the Third Sunday in Lent)

What does it mean to be thirsty? Thirst is knowledge of emptied self. Thirst is need. Thirst means the desert in my throat, my voice scratched and sandy from too much air and not enough water. When I'm thirsty, I dream of tall glasses of water, clear and cold and refreshing. And this morning, the Third Sunday in Lent, I am the Samaritan woman at the well. I want water.

I do not want to admit that I need Jesus' water, though. I want to turn my back to him sitting by the well, cup my hands in the bucket and swallow the sweet, clear water that I know comes from the well. I want to splash it on my face and feel it quench the back of my throat. I want to provide it for myself, give it to myself, go to the well of my own heart and draw enough from it to satisfy. 

I can even hear myself muttering, as the woman did in John 4.11-12, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” I see me smile almost mockingly at Jesus, disbelieving that he has anything I do not have, that he has a water better than the water dripping out of my poor, thirsty, dust-filled heart. 

And behold the words of Jesus:  “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

And the moment - another moment of annunciation, of announcing. Jesus says that whoever drinks the water He gives will never thirst. He declares to my thirsty heart that it has no water that will quench thirst. He declares that my rubble will never become a spring of water welling up to eternal life. 

And the Samaritan woman hears his words, and perhaps she, like me, hears her own heart crying out to deny, be self-sufficient, come back to this well every day, don't trust this person in front of you, don't trust that annunciation, that declaration. 

But behold her heart, thirsty, thirsty, responding: "Sir, give me this water, so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."She responds in trust. She responds to promise of living water. She places her doubting, skeptical, dusty heart in the hands of Jesus of Nazareth and asks for the living water. 

In The Silver Chair, Jill Pole meets Aslan by a stream. Jill is new to Narnia, and dying of thirst. She goes to the stream, and she sees Aslan, and she is terrified. And the terror meets her thirst, and she is paralyzed. And Aslan says: If you are thirsty, you may drink. The two of them look at each other, Aslan watchful, Jill frightened. The following is the passage I remember without hesitation today:

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion – no one who had seen his stern face could do that – and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand.

I am Jill often in this place. I look at the stream, and the Lion, and I know, I just know, that there is no other stream. There is no other stream. Jesus says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." I dare not come and drink. But my heart is thirsty. And Jesus promises that this water will becoming a spring of living water

So I pray, kneeling at the edge of the stream with Jill and the Samaritan woman, looking through the field, looking through for the promise: Lord, give me this water. 

Lord, give me this water. 

May we thirst for Him together. 


Third Sunday in Lent
Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves
to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and
inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all
adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil
thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus
Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the
Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of Lent

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