September 29, 2010

A Story Rewritten

The unedited draft

The woman

Dust swirled around her feet as she slowly made her way to the old well nestled at the foot of the mountain. It was the sixth hour and the desert sun blazed hot and heavy in the cloudless sky.

Sweat dripped between her shoulders as she hoisted the heavy clay pot onto her head. This was a task for a younger woman but she was childless and had no female relative to help.

It would have been cooler coming to Jacob’s well earlier but she wanted to avoid the wagging tongues of the townspeople. This was the time of day when all but the very young sought shade and rest.

The watcher

He was tired and thirsty. His followers had been sent on to buy food so he was alone at this well on the outskirts of Samaria. He waited as she approached. Her eyes were downcast and her face ravaged by the rays of the Mediterranean sun.

The water

The woman of Samaria drew near and was startled when a voice called out demanding a drink. Her eyes quickly noted that this was a Jew. How well she knew her lowly status in his eyes. Why would this man be asking her, a shunned Samaritan, for a drink?

How well she knew her sinful state and here was a pious Jew asking her to serve him. Astonishment gave an edge to her voice as she retorted, “How is that you, a Jew, asks a drink of me?”

He began to speak to her about living water. Water that was so pure that one drink would quench her thirst forever. Hope began to rise within her heart. If she could drink of this water, even just once, then she would not have to walk in open shame to this well again.

The shame

The Jew asked her to call her husband to come as well to this well. The pain of her shame pierced her soul as she blurted out the sinful truth, “I don’t have a husband.” She, who had been discarded by many men, lived in open sin with another. Disappointment was like dry sand in her thirsty soul. Averting her face she made herself ready to leave the well.

The final draft

The shame erased.

Jesus reached out his hands to gently turn her face to his. Just one touch and the woman understood the spiritual refreshment that was hers for the taking. With this man from Galilee there was no reason to hide her shame. The living waters washed away the guilty stain as she drank thirstily from the cup held within his hands.

The woman redeemed

Leaving her water pot at his feet she nimbly ran down the dusty road back into the village. Drowsy townsfolk stumbled from their shady spots as her voice called them to come. Rubbing the grit from their eyes they scarcely recognize the woman who stands straight and tall before them.

The watcher revealed

“Come see a man who knew all about the things that I have done,” she cries out to them. “He offered me living water to drink and he took away my shame. With eyes no longer downcast the woman faces the gathering crowd and asks, “Could this be the Messiah?”

The water of life

The disciples return to the well and offer food to Jesus. He tells them that he had already eaten. In bafflement they look around but see no traces of food. Jesus explains that he is nourished by doing the will of God.

Turning, he looks at these men who struggle to understand, he speaks to them of a harvest that is ripe and ready to be gathered in. These are the ones who are thirsty and ready to drink of the living water that gives eternal life.

A new chapter

A crowd gathers around the woman as she tells them about the man who waits at the well. Her words compel them to follow her as she leads them to the One who offers living water to all who ask.

The woman leaves her water pot, her livelihood, at the well. She has decided to follow this man she calls Messiah.

Dear reader: 
He waits for you at the well.  Are you thirsty?  He bids you come.

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