Leaving our Water Jars
So the woman left her water jar…
The woman left her water jar at the well. It is an interesting detail added by John. She must have realized that its value was cracked by the offer Christ gave, and the offer was a treasure that, when opened outwardly, it had no end, no season of fall and winter, no time of loss. Christ knew all she had done and all she desired, but did not barge into her life’s story with the facts of her life. He was gentle and spoke to her thirst.
He came to us knowing nothing but his mother’s milk—her whispered lullaby and gently rocking arms. He came in adoration of humanity by becoming one of us. He then invites us to adore Him, to enter His joy through His suffering with us and for us, and He invites us to know Him as He gently shows us how intimately we are known by Him. He desires to be known by us, that we might share in His life and resurrection, though it comes through sharing in His cross and death.
Yet, there is a well we run to and a jar we all carry. When it is full of the water we have weighted our souls with, we must find the promise to be true—this man Jesus to be the Christ who is the wellspring that cracks every jar and reveals every spring for the mirage it has always been. I have carried a thousand jars and visited ten thousand sand-springs, and sometimes, more often than not, have picked those jars up after setting them aside.
The invitation to come and adore Him is an invitation to put aside our clay jars, lay to rest the ways we have tried to feed ourselves, to put down our striving efforts to quench this ever-thirst, to let go of our efforts to control our world by trying to control relationships with broken motives to figure out the other. With this Christ-Spring we are freed from the bondage we are gripped by in grasping our cracked clay jars, to love and serve and even become like Christ the bairn fully given with joy and such breathtaking humility.
There is no clay jar that is not there to serve a real need.
The woman came for water, Nicodemus came for instruction in secret, the lame man came to the pool for healing, and others were searching the scriptures for eternal life. All of them were seeking the good, though they were grasping. The woman wanted her labour to end, but then entered a new labor when she put down the water jar and fetched her people to meet Jesus. The grasping of the lame man ended when he let go and received healing from Jesus. Perhaps our systematic control of God through obsessive study may be rightly ordered when we encounter Christ the person above and beyond Christ the idea, or Christ the doctrine, or Christ the GPS voice for God’s will in our lives.
What have I to possess? I may receive all things, but I cannot hold them; I can only steward them. All my creativity, all my gifts, all emotional, intellectual, spiritual, relational, and even sexual longing is not a thing owned or possessed, but a thing given to have authority over. No authority works that is not rightly ordered, and no authority is rightly ordered that is not wholly surrendered.
“You must be born again.”
The man was devout, and clearly loved God, desired life. Sought life in seeking Jesus. If we are called to growth, every passing stage must be like a new born baptism. What a large world of water a baptism must be, and yet in time it may seem like looking at a photo of our mothers bathing us in the kitchen sink. In our growing up we will find the very pool of God’s presence to be a puddle in time, much like the manna from heaven ceased to be suitable food. A few of us have found our way further out into tide pools, and even fewer still may wade in the shallows; but I suspect even the greatest ocean will become a drop of water for the depths of God we may seek out should we find the courage to let go of all that cannot be carried with us.
The man came at night, his covering, but the life we seek will require a remaking of all that we hold dear, including what we once believed to be meant when we have said “me” or “mine.” Only there, when ocean has swallowed ocean, and seas are baptized into larger seas will we finally have eyes to see and ears to hear, lips to taste, the fullness of the beauty of God. But, He will meet us in the infant places of our life like a Father takes joy in his daughter turning straws into magic wands and waving common things into noble. He sees that one day she will be very noble indeed, and may take great charges to discover new waters, leading others further out into the adventure of loving God, and being loved by Him.
Whatever jars we may painfully surrender will in time be made new, and we may find within them, as within ourselves, oceans within oceans of Living Water.
As for myself, “it is such that I, like a sea-discoverer, have fooled myself into thinking that I had sailed over the great depths of His mystery, only to find that I have waded in the shallows after years of searching.”