A Well of a Tale

The story of the Samaritan woman at the well has been entering my life over and over again for months, and I couldn’t figure out why. What, besides the obvious things, was this story urging me to figure out? Well, I began thinking about wells in the Bible, and one thing connected them all.

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well broke major taboos of the time. A man was never to go up to a lone woman, especially one he didn’t know, and speak to her. Plus, animosity, even hatred, brewed between the Samaritans and Jews of that time. The conversation emerged a bit rudely with Jesus asking for water and the woman snipping at Him. Then, He promises her living water that she may never thirst again. She becomes intrigued if not ecstatic. After all, as we learn, she has been married many times and is living with a man; this woman is an outcast who must come in the heat of the day to draw water when no one else is nearby. When she learns Christ’s true identity as the Messiah, she sprints to town, on lookers be damned and becomes a heroine! This is Jesus.

Now, skipping back to the Old Testament, we have Hagar at a well. God promised Abraham that he would become the Father of peoples more numerous than the grains of sand yet he was a very old man and his wife, Sarah, had long been closed at the womb. Sarah, eager to see the prophecy fulfilled, casually donates Hagar, her slave to her husband for childbearing. Can’t you hear it now? Make the beds, have supper ready a bit early, and sleep with my husband tonight to give me the prophesied child. Then, when Hagar is with child, her mistress begins abusing her; Hagar hits the high road, and we are back at a well. However, now, Hagar is joined by God who informs her that she must return to her mistress and obey her. Yet, we see the humanity of Christ as she is promised that her son, also, will bestow a great nation. Hagar, too, sees this humanity when she dubs God “the One who sees me.”

In the South, from which I hale, well and whale are pronounced identically, so, please, excuse my next blunder. Jonah, the very reluctant prophet, was running away from God by getting as far from God’s objective point, Ninevah, as possible. We all know the story of how he hitched a ride on a boat and, out of nowhere, a stormy gale erupted caused by the wrath of God. The sailors discovered that Jonah had cursed them and off the starboard bow he went into the rickety rockety ocean only, as Joel Osteen recounted it, to be picked up by a whale like a cruise liner. I don’t believe that Jonah was exactly poolside with Isaac pouring him wine, but, if he was referring to the ocean liner that was floating above its’ own waste, then, I believe we are on par. So, Jonah rides along in the belly of a whale for three days, is spewed onto dry land, and, with a hop, skip, and jump, books it to Ninevah where he has every person praying for repentance under the possibility of destruction by God. God forgives everyone and can be seen as the Lord of Second Chances.

Thus, we see that all roads…and sea follies…lead to the humanity of Jesus Christ. Where are you on your journey? If you are unsure, I suggest some quiet time with Him. I, for one, would rather have God as the Captain of my vessel than as the Cruise Director.