A Cup or a Bucket Revisited: A Drink of Living Water

Renee Ann Smith —  January 14, 2011 — 40 Comments

This was one of the first articles I wrote when I began blogging. I’m reposting it today because it goes along with the theme at the Women of Faith blog. And because it’s a much needed reminder of God’s grace in my life.  I’ve been feeling a bit dry and didn’t even realize I was thirsting for some living water. If you could use some refreshing, spend a moment soaking in an old, old story . . .

I’ve always loved the story of the Woman at the Well.

I first experienced it as a teen, during a summer spent teaching Backyard Bible Clubs. Once a week for ten weeks, I told the woman’s story. Each time, in a different backyard to a different group of children. The kids and I especially appreciated the visuals, in which a sweet-faced Samaritan woman gazed at Christ from eyes filled with questions.

I remember thinking, She looks just as uncertain about letting this Stranger into her life as I was!

During the fall of my junior year in high school, I gave my life to the Lord. I’d been attending a teen Bible study taught by a young Christian man, who won our hearts with his gentle friendliness and clear teaching. Through the influence of our teacher and my older sister, I became a believer.

Soon, I began attending church and spending time with fellow Christians. Though the folks I met at church and study and youth events were always encouraging and kind, I couldn’t help but feel I’d entered a strange new world.

I wonder if that’s how the Samaritan woman felt on the day she encountered Christ.

It began like any other day. Since she was an outcast, she approached the well late in the morning, after the daughters and mothers and grandmothers of the town had returned to their homes. The passage in John 4 lets us know that she’d been divorced or put away by five different men and now lived with a man who was not her husband. Either the man had refused to marry her, or he was already married to someone else. No respectable woman would have wanted anything to do with her.

Most men, too, would have shunned her. In spite of the fact that some of them should have publicly shared her guilt. They took refuge in a culture which under-valued and demeaned women. Little did they know how far they’d strayed from God’s measure of the value of each individual.

Jesus ignored these social mores and did something completely shocking and revolutionary. He approached the woman in public and spoke with her. Not only did He speak with her, He asked her to give Him a drink.

I think it’s interesting that He asked her to serve Him.

Being needed is a powerful motivation within a woman’s heart, but few of us enjoy all the daily chores that come with being caretakers. However, our relationship with the ones we serve transforms performing those household duties into acts of love.

The Bible doesn’t say what events set this woman on her lonely path in life. But however it began, I can imagine she’d gotten to the point where she looked on the homes around her, homes filled with friends and relatives and precious children, with envy. Perhaps she wished she were drawing water for just such a household.

Instead, she was asked to draw water for the Lord, Himself.

Then Jesus used something the woman would understand, thirsting for water, in order to introduce spiritual truths to her. Their initial interaction went like this:

The Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

She said to Him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?”

At first, she related to Him on a concrete level. She couldn’t understand why He’d asked her for a drink if He was hiding some secret stash of fresh water.

As their conversation continued, He threw out what seemed to be a completely irrelevant request, “Go call your husband and come here.”

Now Jesus was stepping into even more controversial territory. The woman responded, “I have no husband.” Not exactly the whole truth, but all she wanted Him to know.

Jesus said, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband.’ For you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband.”

And, surprisingly, she didn’t walk away.

They talked further, and the woman mentioned being told of the Messiah, who would come to explain all things to them. At that time, Jesus fully revealed Himself to her with the statement, “I who speak to you am He.”At those words, the woman ran to get the people she knew best, some men of the city.

And here’s the part I find truly amazing. She said to them, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

Why was it a good thing that Jesus knew everything about her?

Not only the damage six men had done to her heart, but her own sinful thoughts and acts, too.

I’m convinced that somehow—through the look in His eyes or the tenderness in His voice or the respect in His manner—Jesus communicated this thought:

I see all that you are, the good and the bad, and I cherish you anyway.

He doesn’t join the ranks of our critics, who unfairly judge our words and actions. He doesn’t need to create some false image of us as saints who never do anything wrong. He clearly sees the reality of the true us: all that He intended us to be and how we have both fulfilled and fallen short of His vision.

And Jesus loves us anyway. I love that about Him!

The Bible account ends with, “Many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman.”

So she served Him well that day. And I’m sure her life was never the same.

Perhaps she could have echoed the words of this beautiful poem by Nancy Spiegelberg:

I crawled across the barrenness
To You
With my empty cup,
Uncertain in asking
Any small drop of refreshment.
If only I had known You better,
I’d have come running
With a bucket.

Renee Ann Smith

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I teach literature in a Christian high school by day and write inspirational fiction by night. I love to share heart-touching quotes and stories here on my blog. So glad you stopped by!

40 responses to A Cup or a Bucket Revisited: A Drink of Living Water

  1. What a blessed way to start the day, Renee Ann. I think you should write a devotional book – with pictures such as these!

  2. This is beautiful Renee! I love that poem!
    Thank you for all your kind comments and encouragement!

  3. Thank you so much for stopping by today. I am your newest follower. Thank you for reposting this beautiful story.

  4. What a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. 🙂 Have a beautiful blessed weekend.

  5. Thanks for reposting this! I really, really love that poem at the end!

  6. You write the best blogs:) So inspirational I just love it.

  7. How beautiful! Truly inspirational! I’m stopping by from Friendly Friday; Hoping you’ll stop by and follow me back!

    Be sure to check out our giveaway (now through Friday).


  8. Truly inspirational and simply beautiful!!!!! I’m stopping by from Friendly Friday; Hoping you’ll stop by and follow me back!

    Be sure to check out our giveaway (now through Friday).


  9. I was moved to tears. The description of how Jesus looked at her, and how I see him looking at me, and how I have seen myself before Christ redeemed me. I saw myself before as a broken vessel, dirty, unable to hold anything of value, and so far from God even thirst wasn’t an issue. But now, I think I understand exactly how she felt at that moment. And Thirst is exactly what one gets when they find life in Christ, a thirst that comes from the refreshing. That first cold drink of water on a hot day, that makes you go from drinking to gulping, till you nearly have a brain freeze. Thirsting for Christ in my life is like that now. You did such a wonderful job of bringing it to life. God Bless Your Talent.

    • Thanks for sharing your testimony here. It was truly a blessing to read! I’m glad these words were able to stir your heart. I tried to link back to your site and wasn’t able to. I hope you visit again so I can return the favor.

  10. Great post! I love this story!
    By the way, thank you for all of the nice comments you leave my posts. You always have such kind words to say. 🙂

    I’ve decided to give you a stylish blogger award. A post will be up about it sometime today! 🙂

  11. I too love the story of the Woman at the Well. It one that I remember my dad preaching on many times.

  12. Renee, I loved this today. It was just what I needed and so true!

  13. I love this Renee Ann. I am in agreement with Laura. I would love to read a devotional book written by you. You put things so beautifully and I love the pictures you choose to go along with your posts. Are you an ACFW member? And are you writing fiction? I’ve been procrastinating on mine, but its women’s fiction.

    • Thanks, Julia! I am in ACFW (and hoping to attend the conference in September). I wrote a mystery/romantic suspense book and am trying to get it edited into shape just to see if I can write something worth reading. Then I’d like to move on to Biblical historical fiction. It seems like you’ve mentioned your book before in comments at your site. It’s a pretty unique situation, right?

      • Ooohhh…Biblical historical fiction. Something I love reading and I think we need more out there. I would love to go to conference, but I don’t know what the likelihood is at this stage of my life.

        Yes, my book is about a woman escaping a cult, similar to FLDS. I like the genre of women’s fiction, but we’ll see. I’m just doing it for the fun of it.

        • I think the whole writing and editing thing is a great learning process–I learn lots about myself and about the technique of writing. And it’s fun along the way.

          I love a unique idea like yours for a book. God may use what you’ve written in the future if you don’t see it happening now. Or if you hit on a different idea, you’ll already have experience. I’m tempted to say I wish I’d tried writing sooner, but that was a different season in my life. I had no desire to write a story and would not have enjoyed it so much!

  14. I know what you mean. I sometimes wish I would have started when I was working outside the home. But I truly believe God plans even the timing. He must have known that we needed whatever life experiences we have had first.

  15. What a beautiful post!! Thank you for taking to time to stop by and follow me at Jeremiah 29:11…I’m following you, too!!!

  16. It is so obvious that you have meditated over this story! I love so much of what you wrote here, especially the truth that women DO long to be needed. We want to be desired; and saying that a God desires us does sound weird, but it is true!

    No matter our sin or how the world sees us, God wants us to be His! We need to remember that as Christians: God desires His children and we need to do everything possible to make Him real in other people’s lives!

  17. HI Renee Ann!
    This post is so relevant to me at this point in my life. It was a beautiful and inspirational post and I thank you for sharing it and linking it up to our No Ordinary Blog Hop! May God continue to bless you with the gift of writing and blessing others!
    God bless,
    Tracy at “A Slice of Smith Life”

  18. Lavenia Dranivesi September 22, 2011 at 1:29 am

    This is my first time here and I have been so blessed. Indeed knowing that our God desired a relationship and to have fellowship with us is great hope for us mankind.


  19. Lovely devotional, Renee Ann!

  20. Wow, such a beautiful message! Thanks for sharing it again. I love the thought that in the midst of her likely longing for a family of her own to serve and cherish, God cherished her and asked her to serve Him. Wow. What an amazing truth–that God loves every part of us–the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we can rest knowing that we a completely accepted and loved. Bless you, Renee!

  21. I think we can only really learn when we have a teachable spirit and that comes with humility. humility is needed for service – true service, so it’s not surprising that the Lord recognized just how to touch the woman’s heart.

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