Chicken & Charles

John 4:13-14 (the message)
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst — not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

Yesterday was pay-day for hubby.  Over the years of stay-at-home mommyness, I have developed a habit of making one large grocery trip on pay-day.  Of course there are always trips for things I forget or additional milk, bread, etc.  The bulk of our groceries for two weeks, however, is purchased on this day.  The discouragement I fight off as I watch the price of waffles, a box of capri suns or a container of yogurt rise exponentially is a post for another day.  (As I get into the car after spending so much more than I used to for the same things, I look back at the beautiful brown-eyed Leah in her booster seat…this girl growing wings before my very eyes…taking her last “big groceries” shopping trip as a preshooler…kindergarten officially begins next week…and I see the sheer blessing of living in her smile.  Grocery bills are mostly inconsequential.)

Anyhow, as I am making my way through the McDonald’s drive through lane for promised chicken nuggets after five hours, count ’em up!, five hours of Dollar Store and Wal Mart shopping with an energetic five-year-old and overly tired eleven-month-old, my interest is pricked by the radio.  Some author is on discussing his book about humility and pride.  Great.  But, I’m learning not to change the channel in life from what I don’t want to hear when I know I need to hear it so I turn up the volume.  Amidst Leah’s life-and-death choice between sprite and an apple juice I hear a quote from Charles Spurgeon that I doubt I’ll ever forget.  The guest on the program was talking about how you can’t really work at being humble.  You can’t make humility a goal.  It’s a byproduct of keeping our eyes on Jesus.  Here is the Spurgeon quote he used:

I looked at Jesus, and the dove of peace flew into my heart.  I looked at the dove of peace, and she flew away.

In the middle of an order for a happy meal and sweet tea with light ice, I instantly recognized myself in this quote.  The rest of the interview was good, but I was meant to hear that Spurgeon quote.  I understood it so completely.  It was like dying for a way to express something you barely understand yourself and having a stranger walk up and explain it with the snap of a finger.  No, thanks, I don’t want the two cookies for a dollar.  God, that’s me.  That’s what has happened to me.

As I became transfixed with Jesus my life changed.  As in I was a nicer, wiser, kinder, more gentle, stable and God-confident woman.   In time a new season came with a third pregnancy and a ministry to oversee.  Then it changed again with stepping down from the ministry role and actually having my third daugther!  My world seemed to constrict and expand all at once and I didn’t know if I was coming or going.  Smile…

I’ve spent so much time trying to understand when and how and why my artesian spring flow ceased to gush.  I’ve wrung my hands and dissected my choices, looking for X-marks-the-spot of my wrong turn so I could make it right.  I’ve retraced my steps, fervently asked Him what do you want me to do?  I’ve done what I know to do.  Done what I used to do.  (It is so wrong to keep ‘done what I used to do’ in this post but I’m leaving it!)  At no point have I sensed a conviction that I took a wrong turn.  I just miss the dove so badly, so badly, that I was afraid I did.  So, I’ve upturned every stone, shined my analytical flashlight into every corner and sifted through all my works and motives trying to find my peace.  Oh, where did it go because I need it more than ever!

With thoughts of the Spurgeon quote and Jesus in mind, I turn back to my place in John this morning.  The woman at the well. Yep, read that already this week.  On to the next chapter.  But wait.  Read it again, girl.

And there it is.  A Samaritan woman coming to draw water from this well and Jesus is speaking with her about a thirst He can slake so completely she would never thirst again.  She’s had five husbands and the man she’s living with during this well encounter is not even her husband.  I read this and think, Wow she was so thirsty for love.  She was so thirsty for value and worth she just kept drawing water from a well that could never satisfy the soul-deep thirst in her life.  And here Jesus is, a Jewish man speaking with a Samaritan woman with a less than stellar reputation (taboo, but Jesus was so taboo!)  He’s telling her that He can give her water that will not only quench her thirst for good, it will gush out of her life like an endless fountain.  Other people will get wet as she drinks and is forever filled.

Jesus, all by Himself with no additives, is the answer.  When we drink deeply of Him, the water of His Spirit meets our God created and soul-deep need for love and peace will overflow in our lives.  The more we drink in Jesus, the stronger the force of the artesian spring within as it bubbles then gushes and finally spills out onto our marriages and children, our ministries and neighbors, our friends and coworkers.  No longer do we need to search for the dove.  No more do we need to question and crave the peace we fear slipped through our fingers.  We did not capture the dove, after all…the dove captured us.

It really goes against my nature to cease striving.  I’m an earner.  A first-born rule follower who likes to please.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  I’ve been neck-deep in striving for months now.  Once in a while I hear a whisper to my heart, but the frenetic pace and work of recapturing the dove keeps me far too busy to simply rest in His presence.  Here and there I will be still and be quiet and in those times His nearness is so sweet, but a new day comes full of demands and to-do’s and I’m grasping at the dove, at supernatural peace, as I spin.

I’ve been looking for the dove far more than I’ve been gazing at Jesus.  I’ve gone back to drawing water from a well of striving and works, which is absolutely antithetical to grace and peace.  Not once have I found the dove in my bucket.  And yet I keep peering down inside the deep well of earning, calling out, crying out because I’m so thirsty.

Even now, sitting in my husband’s old green recliner, I can see Him sitting there beside me.  He’s perched on the side of the well, with one foot on the ground supporting his weight.  He’s watching me as I keep drawing bucket after bucket looking for the dove in the waters of my trying.  He’s patient.  He’s not angry or frustrated with me.  Every now and then He speaks to me in a gentle whisper. He says, Daughter, I’m right here.  Look at me.

Through unshed tears I do.  Jesus is my peace.

 

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