Beside the Well
“I didn’t get what I wanted,” whined Suzie as she stomped into the room.
“What do you mean?” asked Mother, “You got loads presents, more than
most children ever receive. Why would you think you needed more?”
“Well, I got loads of stuff, Mom, but I had asked Santa for a Cinderella dress, and I only got a Belle and Sophia one.
“And you aren’t thankful for those, Suzie?”
“Well, yeah, sorta, but they aren’t really what I wanted.” Suzie blurted as she left the room crying.
My story pales compared to what I want to share today, but hopefully, you will get the idea. I will start at Hebrews 5:7 with the Lord Jesus in floods of crying and tears as He pours out His request to God the Father. We know the words from the Gospels, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” This was His prayer.
My attention had previously been called to verse 8 where it says, “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” I have often meditated on what it meant that the Lord Jesus – fully man and fully God – had to learn to obey. With all creation is under his sway and power, He “humbled himself and became obedient to the cross.” He learned to obey His Father. That still baffles me!
But today, verse seven popped out loudly. Jesus was begging the Father for a different course, a different will, and a different outcome. He wailed before God at the plight before Him. “when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” God could change things. He heard Jesus’ prayer, but even his Sonship could not change God’s will—so Jesus obediently submitted. In so doing, verse nine says, “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey.” He is our example in obedience.
That lands us in Hebrews 12:2, doesn’t it? “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame.” There is always a reward on the other side of obedience.
Read on. Hebrews 12:3, 4 have been two verses God has used many times in my life when I have been bewailing my plight. “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood…” My plight is minuscule compared to Jesus’. When I find myself in floods of crying and tears because I am unhappy with what God has given or not given me, I am reminded I have not yet shed blood over the situation. Crucifixion is not my calling. I am called to obedience. That can really sting!
Hebrews 12 then moves on to a discourse about the chastening or correction of God and a warning about bitterness in verse 15. Then, in verse 17 we come back to Jesus’ prayer request, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” Do you see it? Jesus’ request was rejected, though he cried and cried.
Accepting God’s will may sometimes bring us to tears; but the issue is not the path, it is the obedience. Hebrews 12 finishes with “…whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (v. 28) Jesus learned how to submit and was rewarded. We, too, need to learn the lesson and blessing of obedience instead of being pouting princesses.
Most of us have heard the story of the young couple that sold their most valuable possession to get a Christmas gift for the other. The young man sold his gold watch to buy combs for his wife’s hair and the young wife sold her beautiful hair to purchase a chain for her husband’s watch. On Christmas morning they each knew the value of the precious gifts they had been given.
This is the heart of Christmas giving. For a gift to be truly precious, everything else must pale by comparison.
The characters in the Nativity recognized the gift of God’s promised Messiah placing it above all they valued on earth. No cost was too high.
Joseph risked his reputation by taking Mary as his wife.
Mary risked rejection and possible death in revealing to Joseph the results of her visit from the angel.
Joseph and Mary risked it all to travel to Bethlehem so close to the due date of the Savior’s birth and humbled themselves to the accommodation of a manger bed.
The Shepherds left their livelihood to discover the angel’s announcement.
The Wise Men left the comfort of their riches and traveled at great personal expense to follow the Star and find the babe.
Anna waited many years at the Temple to receive the promise. The man Simeon did as well!
These are from the Christmas story, but through the centuries men have agreed with Paul. “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus ….that I might know him.” Philippians 3:8, 10
Spurgeon said, “Nothing teaches us the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we discover the emptiness of everything else.” Thanks be to God for His unspeakable Gift!
May your Christmas be filled with His presence and everything else pale in comparison.
I have a habit of copying out quotes from devotions as I read. I gain from going back to re-read them and remember what the Lord has taught me. They are also a resource for sharing in my blogs.
At Pastor’s Wives Retreat this year I was given a little devotional book called The Valley Dweller’s Manual by Debra Smith. She has studied many of the valleys mentioned throughout the Bible and written some brilliant devotions that would make great teaching lessons or sermons.
The first quote I copied from her book comes from the devotion called, The Valley of Fruit. I’m going to bold the sentence that caught my attention, and then give you the next few sentences she wrote so you can draw from her thoughts.
“The more I try to make myself happy, the less happy I become.”
“The reason this formula is true lies in the fact that the more I feed my desires, the more I desire. I could never gain enough possessions or gratify enough of my fleshly cravings to satisfy my need. None of us could. (She uses Hollywood as an example.) We need to take our eyes off ourselves with our perceived needs and desires and keep them firmly on the Lord. If He becomes our desire, then we shall be satisfied.”
The Christmas season can reveal extreme examples of our desire to make ourselves happy. Think with me: How many Christmas gifts will it take to make me happy? What would be the actual cost? Does going into debt create happiness? Where am I seeking my happiness? Do I get grumpy or resentful if I don’t get the gifts I think I deserve? If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy? Am I demanding or expecting others to make me happy?
The Bible is right when it says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6) The Greek word for gain, according to Strong’s Concordance means, “to cause a thing to get on well, to carry forward, to convey, to acquire” (www.blueletterbible.org). Though the word has the idea of gaining things or funds, I see it as also gaining happiness, peace, and real contentment. The things we gain from allowing contentment to be our guiding principle is not limited to the physical, it has intangible personal and eternal benefits as well.
The opposite of contentment is greed. Greed is never satisfied. Oh, we might not see ourselves as greedy for things, but we might be greedy for recognition, appreciation, or for someone to make us happy or to please us. Truth is, if we are not happy in and of ourselves, very little around us will make us happy, and the harder we try to create our own happiness, the less happy we become.
This Christmas, why not set your heart, before even a gift is given, that you will make yourself content in the Lord. Be thankful for what you already have. Be appreciative of those around you and ready to create happiness for others above yourself. Then, you will have a Happy Christmas!
I chose my blog title based on the Woman at the Well. Beside the well she found the water of life—the sustaining power. And, I loved the imagery of coming to the well daily to draw from that source.
Today, however, I found another picture that captured my imagination. It was Spurgeon saying, “The Lord has His own appointed ways. Sit by the wayside, and you will be ready when He passes by.” (p 622)
He was not referring to Blind Bartimaeus in the context of his devotion, but my mind linked the two. Spurgeon was admonishing us to not languish in our beds believing we can do nothing about our situations. Rather, we ought see our vulnerability and incapacity as goads that drive us to earnest prayer for God’s work in our lives—for a renewed spirit within us.
The word wayside creates the image of a dusty road lined by shallow ditches and bustling with travelers and pack animals. There, Spurgeon is telling us to sit. Sit in whatever condition we find ourselves. Sit by the wayside where things are taking place, where dust and muck may be thrown upon us, and where we are seen by those passing by.
That is not a pretty picture. I’m not too keen on the prospects! But think with me a moment. Had Bartimaeus been out wandering around, he would not have known Jesus was passing by. Had he not been sitting by the wayside for days prior, He would not have heard the tales of Jesus’ ability to restore sight to the blind. Had he not been by the wayside enduring the dirt and disrespect, he might not have considered his plight desperate enough to cry out for mercy.
When life gets tough, we want to hide. We shrivel up in our faith and go away from the wayside. Away from the dust, dirt and disrespect. Away from the jeers of those mocking us for our faith. Away from hearing testimonies of Jesus’ work in the lives of others. And, away from the potential of being ready when He passes by.
The miracle for Bartimaeus, and the miracle in our lives, is when the Creator of the universe stops and looks on a blind and lowly sinner beaten down by life on the wayside with the offer, “What wilt thou have me to do?”
Oh, Lord, help me to not look so much at the difficulties of the wayside, but to allow them to drive my heart to earnest prayer and expectation of your intervention.
The past couple of weeks have been full of excitement. I was able to spend ten days with family in America for Thanksgiving, and my new children’s book, Messy Hair Game, was officially launched.
It’s a story about two little girls who decide messing up their hair would be a fun game to play while waiting for Grandma to be ready to go to town. I will be reading the story to Birches First School on Thursday and signing some books for the children. In preparation for that, I created a couple of teaching papers, including one with questions for discussion.
In the story, Reba gets frightened when she realizes she has upset Grandma by her disobedience. Instead of admitting her guilt, she chooses to run from Grandma. You’ll have to check it out to find out the end of the story.
As I was reading my devotions, Spurgeon was discussing Job. He made note that Job did not ask for the return of his lost children or possessions. He asked to see God. Job 23:3.
And then Spurgeon wrote: “God’s children run home when the storm comes on. A hypocrite, when afflicted by God, resents the infliction and, like a slave, wants to run from the Master who has scourged him.”
My mind immediately thought of Reba running from the chastisement she deserved from Grandma. She ran away instead of into the forgiving arms of her grandmother.
How many times do we do the same with God? We know we have done wrong, but instead of confessing and asking forgiveness, we run. We try to hide. We must think God can’t see us—how silly! We cannot run away from His presence. There is nothing hid from the eyes of God. And, there is no sin He will not forgive. We can trust His forgiving arms.
My mind then remembered another of my favorite verses. Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
Oh, Lord, help me to remember that safety and forgiveness are found only in You. When I face the storms of life or I am confronted with my own sin, may I run straight into Your forgiving arms!
Check out Messy Hair Game by Gail Gritts on Amazon. There is also a colouring book to order, and a free audio at www.truestorykeepsake.com