Take a moment to read John 4:10-15 and pray that God will speak to you through this passage today.
I woke up this morning to a sound I knew I ought to recognise, but it kept evading me what it was. It sounded like a series of taps with a very small hammer. Like a bird pecking – not quite a woodpecker, but a tiny bit like a nuthatch maybe. It took me a while to wake up enough to realise what it was: Rain! For the first time in what felt like weeks, it was raining heavily and the drops bounced off my window and the plastic roof over some of my patio. Ah! I love rain. Ever since I was a toddler, I have loved rain and pictures exist (which shall remain forever hidden) of a little girl in welly boots sitting with an upturned washing-up bowl in a thunderstorm listening to the drum of the raindrops. You will realise that this was in the days before Peppa Pig and Facebook. Back when boredom was good for you.
I’ve always loved rain, especially after a dry period. I love how it clears the air. I love the smell of rain hitting dry ground. It even has a name: Petrichor, and that is one of my favourite words.
You will remember we left the woman at the 41-metre deep Jacob’s well talking to Jesus. She was slowly getting a clearer picture of who Jesus was, and today, her understanding grows a little bit more as Jesus begins talking to her about living water.
It can be hard to imagine if you have never experienced it, how it is to live in a very hot and very dry country where there are dry seasons and rainy seasons. During dry seasons, the people of the Bible would access water in kept in cisterns, stored up, and eventually going a bit stale as the weeks and months went by with no fresh supply. In rainy seasons, brooks would appear out of nowhere, rain would turn bare hills green, flowers would burst out into song and the air would feel like a spring clean for your lungs, not a duvet of dust over your head. Living water, you see, is water that flows, that moves, that is alive, as opposed to stagnant water saved up for a not so rainy season.
And God has often reminded Israel that He is that living water, always present, always flowing, always adding new life and hope, ‘the fountain of living water’ (Jer 2:13). But His people, God says has often chosen to ‘dig cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’ (Jer 2:13). Not only are they sticking to their old water, the very cisterns they try to keep it in are leaking hopelessly.
It is into this context Jesus speaks about the gift of God and the living water but the woman is looking down into the deep well of ordinary water, probably at least partly stagnant, wondering how this Jewish man was going to get any water, living or otherwise, out of a nearly bottomless well without as much as a thimble…
And so, she asks the question “Are you greater than our father Jacob who built the well?”, as she begins, reluctantly, to slowly realise that this may well be the case. This is a Jewish man who is greater than even Jacob.
And this great man promises living water which will be like an ever-flowing source of eternal life within whoever drinks it. Living water which does away with thirst once and for all. No wonder the woman wants some of that water. It would save her having to go to the well every day.
I like living water. I like rain and rivers and taps that turn on when you want them to, but more than anything, I like the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Himself, living inside me, always ready to revive, refresh and bubble up like a chuckling stream when I get a bit weary.
These past few days, I have found it a little extra challenging to have no physical contact with other people. No hugs, no shared meals, no hand on my shoulder etc. But then I read something somewhere and it said this: Because Jesus lives in us by His Spirit, He can hug us from the inside.
Because Jesus lives in us, He can hug us from the inside. Those words became strangely precious to me.
God loves us all the time, but we are leaky vessels. We need reminders. We need a fresh encounter with God’s love often. We need access to a spring that keeps springing.
Do you know what would make you bloom? What would put your heart in the mood for dancing? What melody would you like to hear drummed by the raindrops on an upturned bucket? Whatever it is, I would encourage you to share your longing with Jesus and to let Him share His longing with you. He longs for you to have life, and have it to the full and there is living water on offer. I am going to go away and pray that God will surprise you even right now with a refreshing shower of living water, and that you may know that bubbling stream inside that will be an eternal source of life for us who put our trust in Jesus and have been given the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is a foretaste and a beginning of what life in all its fulness will one day truly be, when our gradual understanding gives way for us to know Him fully, even as we are fully known.