Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living Water

They say you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their calendar and their checkbook.

I've learned that is most certainly true.

You can learn a lot about me by going to my kitchen sink.

I spend just about half my life here.

Scrubbing dirty dishes.

Washing little hands.

Filling up multicolored plastic cups with water.

Watching the deer make their daily pilgrimage up through the woods at dusk, peacefully trudging their well-worn path.

Propped up against the plant in the window are words scrawled on an index card. Sometimes they're words about anger or jealousy. Sometimes they're reminders to be joyful, patient, or thankful; to not worry; to count my blessings. They are words that would give even a total stranger a glimpse into my soul that day. 

I distinctly remember the first time I stood at this kitchen sink. We had bought the house but had not yet moved in. Life had just been turned upside down with the blinking of two eight-week-old heartbeats on a sonogram screen. It was cold - early March - and I had crunched through three months of unshoveled snow to get to the front door and the waiting contractors eager to give their bids. To say the house needed work was a drastic understatement. Everything was dark - old oak cabinets, brown carpet, grimy linoleum kitchen floors.  As the contractors measured and figured and drew their dimensions, I walked through the cold, dark kitchen and stood at the sink. I looked through the window at the woods and imagined all that life would bring me in this home in the years to come. I was brimming with hope, and so happy; I'd been dreaming of a kitchen with a window over the sink.

The months that followed brought joy and hardship. I found myself stretched to the limit of what I thought I could do. I had three babies two and under, and was driven to my knees. I knew I needed to rely on God's promises and encouragement, but I barely had time to brush my teeth, much less settle in with a cup of tea and my Bible. Despair became my constant companion. I started writing verses that I could cling to on little index cards and propped them up against a plant behind my kitchen sink. Twenty or thirty times a day, it seemed, God's Word materialized in front of my eyes as I washed and dried and made it through another hour.

It was always encouraging.

 It was often convicting.

I was amazed at how often I had to stop, in mid-sentence or mid-thought, because I was going down the wrong road and was reminded of the kind of person I could be and should be in Christ.

I began to understand the meaning of the "living water" Jesus talked about with the sad, lost Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-40). These Words gave me life when not much else could. They were verbs, not nouns. They changed what I thought and said and did. Not always. I was, and am, so imperfect that I shudder sometimes when I come face to face with my true self. But as the hot water poured out of my faucet over maple syrup-soaked plates and milk-encrusted sippy cups, I read the Words and prayed the Words, and was able to become through Him the mother He said I was. The wife He said I was. The daughter and sister and friend He said I was.

No matter where I live, I will have my living water at my kitchen sink for the rest of my life. I've saved my index cards in my Bible, some dog-eared, some tear-stained, and the stack has gotten so big that I can barely get it closed. What a blessing that is. It makes me rejoice.

I get a lump in my throat when I reflect back on all that has happened since I stood at this sink six years ago. God has given me so many gifts: three more beautiful boys, the call to homeschool, deepened love and respect for my husband, and joyous, genuine friendships. But the greatest gift by far has been the understanding of my outright need and utter dependence on His living water.

 "Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water  I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of                 water welling up to eternal life.”
                                                                          John 4:4-14 

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