Are You Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?

if the woman at the well could tell her story, maybe it would be something like this.

debra wiger.jpeg

So, here’s the thing. Maybe in your town people don’t remember someone by their mistakes, but they do in mine.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for someone I care about; but, that didn’t matter because I had a bad reputation. I guess you could say that my romantic life has been like the Johnny Lee Song, Looking for Love… in all the wrong places.

Yep, I’ve been with a lot of guys over the years and I don’t have many friends.  I’ve known six men, that people know about, and that was enough to make me the naughty girl of our village.  Right now I’m with a pretty nice guy that treats me well, but we’re not married.  Been there, done that.  I didn’t think that I would ever get married again.  I’ve had five husbands and I guess I have a talent for picking the wrong guys.  I couldn’t stay with them anymore… especially the ones that hit me and were jerks all the time.  It just wasn’t worth it to stay with them and sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, even if it is frowned upon.

When I met Jesus I couldn’t even go in public around other women anymore.  The men in town didn’t respect me, but the cruelty and snark from the women came in fairly impressive, epic proportions.  Many of them felt threatened and disgusted by me and rightfully so.  The worst hornet’s nest I’ve ever stepped in came when I got together with my third husband.  He never told me that he was married and when his wife found out, I faced her wrath and that of all her family and friends. I can’t say that I blame her, but it was way worse for me than him.

I’ve messed up my life.

I hate thinking about my past, and I wish that I could go back to when I was young and do things differently.  Still, I would never be that mean to someone else.  They whispered about me, called me names, called my family names, and even refused to sell me food at the market.  Anyway, I normally made my daily visit to the well around noon when it was hot and no one else was there.  

I always dreaded that trip to the well, even though that is where I met most of the guys I’ve known.  Lugging heavy containers has never been enjoyable, but it used to be much better when I used to go with friends in the cool of the morning.  

One day a Jewish guy was sitting there; he was alone and looked thirsty from traveling.  Jews hate us and we hate them so I kept my head down, minding my own business as I began to fill my jug.  When He asked me for a drink of water, I was shocked.   “You’re a Jewish man.  I’m a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?”  I said.  

Jesus reached out to me; I was NOT looking for friendship.

If you knew the gift of God and who I am, you would have asked me for living water,” He replied.  That seemed like a ridiculous thing to say, because He didn’t even have anything to draw water with.  Then He said something about giving me water that would satisfy my thirst forever because it came from a spring inside me.  

That sounded pretty great so I said, “Give me some!”  I can’t tell you how much I loved the idea of never having to go back to that miserable well another day in my life.  I doubted that there was such thing as water that made you never thirsty again, but I figured that it was worth a shot.  Every single trip was a miserable walk of shame.  Lord, what I wouldn’t do to never go back.

Living water sounded too good to be true.

Go call your husband and come back,” He told me.  “I don’t have a husband,” I answered.  And, if I’m being honest, I remember feeling a little annoyed.  First, He made it awkward by speaking to me.  Then He asked me for a drink, which I would have been happy to give Him, but before I had a chance He changed the subject and started talking about having a supply of magic water but wouldn’t give me any.  He then proceeded to tell me that I had already had five husbands and I was not married to the guy I was living with.  That is when everything got really weird.  

Jesus knew me but I didn’t know Him.

How in the world did He know that???  I was uncomfortable, so I changed the subject.  I knew that I was living in sin, but I didn’t feel any desire to discuss it with Him.  It was a little creepy to have a complete stranger know everything about my life and my past, but the truth is I was drawn to Him.  He had the kindest, most loving look in His eyes, yet He wasn’t hitting on me.  I wasn’t afraid, and I had the sense that He was like no other man I had ever met.  I guessed that He was possibly a prophet, to know all those things about me.

He explained some things about worship and the Spirit that went a little over my head so I just said, “I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  I didn’t want him to think I was stupid!  Then he said, “That is me.”  He told me that He was the Messiah!!!  His gaze seemed to penetrate my heart and I came undone. Something powerful stirred inside me and I felt great peace and excitement, all at once. Just then some other guys that He was traveling with came to the well.

My mind was spinning and my heart was racing.  Who was this guy?!  Why did I feel so drawn to Him and how could He know these things about me?  I could ignore Him, but what if He was telling the truth?  I didn’t know what to believe, but I didn’t want to miss out.  

I had to tell others my story!

I left my water jar there by the well and took off running back to town.  I had to tell others about this man!  I didn’t know if they would believe me, but as I ran to the city square I lost my inhibition and shouted:  “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did!  Could He be the Messiah?!?!”  

The people stopped and stared but I didn’t care.  I kept telling them about Jesus.  And when I could see that they were listening and interested, I motioned for them to follow me back to the well. I lifted my skirt and started running, afraid that He might be gone already.  Even thought they didn’t really like me, they must have been curious.

The people believed in Him and begged Him to stay.

When we got back to the well, He was there and began talking to the people from my town.  More kept coming and soon they were all listening to him speak.  When he was finished, they invited him to come for dinner and stay longer.  He stayed in our town two more days!  People who previously wouldn’t speak to me even told me that they now believed that Jesus was the Savior of the world.  They said that at first they just believed because of my story, but then they experienced Him for themselves.  

Since then, I have been part of a church formed by people who believe in Jesus.  He went back to Galilee and started to become more and more well known all over because of his teachings, miracles, and the crowds who gathered to see Him.   He was right— everything was different when I realized who He was.

I found love from a better source.

I still go to the well, but I visit now in the morning with some other women from my church.  It’s sure nice to have someone to talk to, and it’s not near as hot.  That trip to the well when I met Jesus changed my life.  I still get emotional and can’t help but smile when I think about meeting Him. I still get thirsty, but I think I know now what He was talking about when He offered me living water.    I felt known and loved more deeply than I ever had before or since.  He knew what I had done and struck up a conversation and friendship anyway.  He was a friend that loved me first and pursued me!  He didn’t care what other people thought of me.  He thought that I was worth talking to.  He seemed to enjoy visiting with me.  He promised me eternal life!!!  

I still believe in Him, because I’ve seen him do many amazing things.  Once you see a guy with shriveled legs who has been paralyzed his whole life get up and walk, you will never be the same.  Jesus is not an ordinary man.  I know how He made me feel and I saw him walking around alive after He was crucified.  Taking the risk to tell other people about Him changed my life and others’ too.  I still can’t believe that they listened to me!!!!!  

I am not who I was.

I will never forget being known as the sinful woman who was bad and dirty and alone.  I let the haters and the gossips and the religious people make me feel unworthy. But, now, I have joy because Jesus knows me as a woman who is clean, saved, and dearly loved by Him and many others.  I got to play a part in founding our church, where I serve, and many of them actually thank me now for what I did.  I am so grateful and overjoyed to share with you that I see myself as a child of God, all because of Jesus! I’m just curious… have you met Him yet?

I love you.  Jesus loves you more.

Sarah Barnes