June 25 Devotional
Opening Prayer: You called, You cried, you shattered my deafness. You sparkled, you blazed, You drove away my blindness. You shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for You. I tasted and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with longing for your peace. - St. Augustine
Scripture: John 4:1-30
Journal: Where do you find yourself in this story? What are you thirsty for these days? How are you trying to satisfy that thirst? What well are you constantly running to in order to draw water?
Reflection: Like the woman at the well, sooner or later, perhaps in a quiet, reflective moment, we must all come to terms with the honest truth that we were looking for more than we’ve found thus far. We certainly don’t resemble the Samaritan woman. We keep our marriages to a minimum, and we hold down respectable jobs and pay our bills on time. We may look pretty respectable and orthodox. But still our souls are very thirsty.
Perhaps your prayer life has dried up, or in spite of your best efforts you still are not making much of a difference in anyone’s life, or maybe you’ve lost all the joy, all the passion, in your life. You have the same sadness buried in your soul as all those Samaritans had. You may have a head full of knowledge about God, but you still yearn to experience something sacred, something that will at long last calm the ache from deep within. As this story unfolds, take your place next to this Samaritan woman.
It’s part of my pastoral calling to look closely at the lives of those who go to church. They all clean up pretty nicely on Sunday morning. But just below the surface of their navy-blue suits and colorful dresses lie souls that are not nearly so tidy. On a typical Sunday in our church, I sit facing the congregation while the choir sings the anthem before the sermon. I gaze into the faces of people I know and love. I see the elder whose marriage is hanging on by a thread. Next to him is the Sunday school teacher whose daughter was arrested last week for driving under the influence of alcohol. Two pews behind them is the church’s newest widow, who is wondering how she will survive sitting in church alone for the first time in forty years. She happens to be sitting next to a young couple who desperately want to be parents, but not a single one of the fertility treatments seem to be helping. The details may change as I look from face to face, but the essential story remains the same. They are all thirsty.
My job is to remember that what we are struggling with is not just our families and jobs. No, the stakes are much higher than that. The real struggle is with our parched souls. We were created with a need to satisfy our physical thirst, and every morning of our lives we are reminded of this thirst. But this physical thirst is a symbol, maybe even a sacrament, that points to the deeper spiritual thirst of the soul. So also is our longing for better families and more satisfying jobs a symbol of our deeper yearning to be a part of the family and mission of God. We simply cannot satisfy the thirst of our souls by pouring on new relationships, experience, achievements, or careers.
As the Samaritan woman discovered, it doesn’t matter how many times we may try to rearrange our relationships and reorder our lives. Until we find relief for the soul, everything else will be nothing more than a distraction - a very temporary one at that - from our fundamental craving for living water.
Most of us haven’t gone through five spouses, but we have gone through jobs, five moves, five weight-loss programs, or five churches - and still the insatiable thirst continues. We will never find what we are looking for in the things we pick up along the way. Not even the religious things. Not even important things like relationships. All of these things will leave our souls empty if we try to force them to satisfy our thirst. The true object of our search is nothing less than an encounter with the Holy One. (Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes)
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
L. and E. serve in a Creative Access country. L. is working to make evangelical literature available to the nations so that people can come to Christ. Pray today for new believers. The biggest struggle is for them to read God’s word daily and get connected to a local fellowship. Pray for L. and E. as they return to the mission field next month and leave behind their children who are college students.
Hope Resource Center is a multi-faceted Christian ministry addressing such matters as sexual purity and health, unplanned pregnancy, post-abortion stress and abstinence education. Pray today for new Director Andrew Wood who began in May. Pray for Andrew, his wife Erin and their two children.
Closing Prayer: O God, giver of life and source of living water. Forgive me for all the places other than you that I go to satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. Help me to see what broken wells I go to each day in search of the fullness only you can provide. Allow me to quench the thirsts of my soul in You this day, and in nothing, or no one, else. Through Christ. Amen. (Beginnings by Jim Branch)