Noon on a hot, dusty day saw a thirsty man sitting by a well after a long walk. A woman trudged up, not during the normal hours of drawing water; a woman, we would later discover, who was on the fringes of her society, a society that was on the fringes itself, especially to people like this man, who sat where she had hoped to find no one. To her utter amazement, he asked her for a drink. It was not just that she was from a hated caste, but she was a woman, and men seldom talked to women in public, especially not one with her background. And not only that, but he offered her something wonderful--she would never have to come draw water from this well again. She was so excited she ran to tell the others in the town, even the ones who before would not speak to her because of her questionable morals.
He stayed for two days, teaching about this miraculous water, water they eventually realized was not wet or even real, as the world counts reality, but far more real in the dawning light of a spiritual kingdom that would accept them all, not just those other people who hated them. Soon, everyone would have this living water available, and no one in that kingdom would be considered “second class.”
I wonder if Jesus would have gotten my attention with this talk? I don’t have to draw water from a well in the heat of the day—enough water to clean, bathe, cook, and stay alive. But one day, 30 years ago, that little story meant a whole lot more to me than it ever had before.
We came home from a trip to discover that our well had collapsed. We did not have the several hundred dollars it would have cost at the time to fix it. Keith had to dig a new well himself. For a month, every night after he finished the studying and home classes he conducted as a preacher, he worked on that well, even in the cold January rain, even running a fever.
A farmer neighbor filled and carted a five hundred gallon tank outside our door. That tank had held things not good for human consumption, so we used that water to carry in five gallon buckets for flushes, and pressure canners full for bathing. Every morning I went to another neighbor’s house to fill up gallon jugs for the water we used to brush teeth, make tea and coffee, and wash dishes. The boys were 5 and 3, way too little to help cart water. I learned the value of carrying a bucket in each hand—balance was everything if you wanted to slosh as little as possible all over your carpets.
We learned to conserve water without even thinking about it—no more water running in the lavatory while brushing teeth, shaving, or putting in contact lenses! Suddenly, carrying water was a time-consuming, back-breaking job. Modern homes are simply not geared to anything but running water. It would have been much simpler to have had an outhouse in the backyard, and a pump handle in the kitchen. The amount of water that needed hauling would have been cut in half.
And after a month of that, I understood what this woman must have thought, what a luxury the concept must have seemed to her hot, weary body. Do we feel that way about “living water?” Is salvation such a luxury that we marvel at it and run to tell others? Or do we take it for granted like running water in our kitchens and bathrooms? I would not wish the month we endured on anyone else, but you know what? I think it was good for all of us.
Therefore with joy shall we draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall you say, Give thanks unto Jehovah, call upon his name, declare his doings among the peoples, make mention that his name is exalted, Isaiah 12:3,4