I was praying this morning after a very long day yesterday. It rained last night and outside was wet and humid. Humidity makes everything feel like its in slow motion. The smallest tasks feel insurmountable under the weighted blanket of damp heat.
I was extra tired while praying, and my mind wandered into places of worry. I was feeling bad for not posting yesterday's message. I'd had a post which I'd never gotten around to writing because I'd gotten busy. I'd let the tasks of life put out the fire of a message as it sat on an unlit back burner for too many hours.
Did I mess up? Would I hear anything today? Was I fired? I was feeling altogether unworthy of my calling and guilty. Combined a fatigue I couldn't shake from this late summer watery heat wave, I was about to tap out of prayer, when I heard, "Come as you are."
I knew it wasn't just for me.
In a fraction of a moment the words removed the heaviness as I remembered who He is and that I'm still invited, just as I am. I didn't earn Him all those years ago when we first met and I'm not earning Him today.
In that second, Jesus saw my heart, mind, concerns, heaviness, and reminded me that none of those are barrier to His Presence. I am welcome. I am home. Mistakes, tiredness and all, I am home with Him. I sighed, happy and felt myself a child again, curled up at His feet and prayed from the heart.
My worry melted into the quiet delight of a child in a parent's arms and I felt grateful that He is so loving, eternally grateful for His nature that is characterized by gathering the weary into rest and is not looking for the most impressive, but anyone who will follow Him.
In that moment I was reminded of the story of the Samaritan woman.
"Eventually He came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime." John 4: 5-6
It will never get old to me that the first person Jesus chose to reveal Himself as the Messiah to was woman of Samaria.
By human standards, societal standards, she was all wrong. In so many, terrible ways.
First, she was a Samaritan. Samaritans were an ethnic minority with complicated origins and there was much hatred between them and the Jewish people. Genealogy wise, the two groups are cousins, sharing patriarchs, but with some stark theological differences and a past quite fraught which led to a deep and ever-present divide.
Second, she was a woman. Proper men, especially religious teachers, didn't talk to women at that time unless they were part of their households. Pious men didn't even talk to their own wives and sisters in public. It was unheard of to simply address a woman in passing casually. Scandalous. Doing so was an invitation to impropriety and an open display of lewdness of heart.
"Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, 'Please give me a drink.' The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, 'You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?'" John 4:7,9
And even if there was some kind of emergency for a man to have to speak to a woman, she was entirely the wrong kind.
"Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.' The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ For you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.'" John 4:16-18
She had a reputation. A past that would make her ineligible for any sort of societal acceptance or participation in religious life in any way. She undoubtedly lived a life of scorn, on the edges of daily life.
The account says she encountered Jesus when she was drawing water at a well at around noontime, an hour it would be already very hot.
Most women drew water early in the morning while it was cool. Many believe she was there at the well, at that peculiar hour because she was ostracized due to who she was. Whether by her own doing- an unwillingness to deal with the stares and whispers, or simply an understanding that she needed to come to the well later.
Either way, she was there alone by Jacob's well at the worst and best time.
Worst because of the weather, but best because of the extraordinary company.
Yeshua was there, ready to meet with a person nobody- honorable or common- would have seen any benefit in meeting with.
The first person the Messiah people had been waiting lifetimes for was not someone who had spent years studying religious texts diligently in a building. It was not someone who had been fasting and praying for weeks on end. It was not someone with money, or even a good name.
He chose a "bad girl." An outcast. He chose someone that by everyone's standards, He had every reason not to notice, much less speak to. He chose someone who could have damaged His reputation just by being seen with her.
She had a mouth on her, too. She was bold and had questions for this Man who knew so much.
"So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Samaritans and Jewish people disagreed on which places were holy. A Samaritan would have no access to the holy temple in Jerusalem, the place were where one could get right with God via sacrifices. The Samaritans had their own holy sites, the mountain they both stood on was one of them but even there her access was limited due to her status.
Of all the questions she could have asked, she challenged this Man who seemed to know things He couldn't have known about places one could meet God. Perhaps she felt she was in need of atonement. Perhaps she wondered if a person of her standing could ever hope to be right before the Most High. Little did she know Yeshua, whose name means Salvation, the living Reconciliation between mankind and Adonai, was in her midst in a Divine appointment to see her.
"Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.'
The woman said to Him, 'I know that Messiah is coming' (who is called Christ). 'When He comes, He will tell us all things.'
Jesus said to her, 'I who speak to you am He.'" John 4: 21-26
What many people, both inside and outside of the revelation of who Jesus is don't understand is that Yeshua of Nazareth does not look at human beings the way people do. Not even close.
As much as human beings are familiar with the verse, "God is no respecter of persons," meaning social rank, wealth, education, race any other earthly distinction mean nothing to Him, we still often use the carnal mind to determine how much access to Him we deserve.
I did it this morning. I experienced it in that office.
A Samaritan women. Living a lifestyle that would disgust any upstanding citizen of the time. This was who He chose to reveal Himself to.
Yeshua came to give hope to the hopeless, life to those dead in sin both known and unknown, sin hidden and on display, the sin that causes distance from a God so holy He cannot be in its presence.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have ever lasting life." John 3:16 is about a God who cannot compromise His innate holiness, He cannot change who He is, but wanted to be with us so He made a Way,
"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes the Father, except by me." John 14:6 is Jesus telling anyone looking for the place, the way, climbing the mountain, memorizing the mantra, buying the crystals, learning ritual, lighting the candles, that the means of rightness before a God they can sense but don't know how to reach and feel too unclean to approach, that He is the atonement and the means by which the past is covered, the future paid for.
No matter where you sit or stand in religious buildings, and no matter what anyone thinks of you or what you think of yourself, you have a Way to the God of heaven.
Saying yes to Jesus erases all names you've been given and makes you simply a child of God.
He gave her a job, too. A new purpose in His Kingdom right away, the only training and certification being the glory of God bursting from her healed heart, redeemed soul, and grateful lips.
The Samaritan woman became the first evangelist.
"And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all that I ever did.'" John 4:39
Whatever you think disqualifies you from the presence of God, from Jesus' welcoming embrace today is lying. There is nothing you can do to to make yourself too "unclean" for His Presence. The only thing that can ever cause you to miss having Yeshua in your life is denying Him entry.
Come as you are.
"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' Let anyone who hears this say, 'Come.' Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life."
He's not out to destroy your life, but save it. He is worthy of being trusted and will heal you.
"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" -Matthew 11:28-30
Pray to Him:
"Jesus. I believe You are the Son of God. I believe you died for the sins of the world and rose again. I know I've done wrong before God and want to be made right. Forgive me of my sins. I want to make you Lord of my life. I want to know You and be healed of all the marks this life has left on me. I'm coming as I am. I want to walk with You through this life and see where we go together. I'm here. Ready. In Your name I pray. Amen"
You can read the whole story of the Samaritan woman here.