Wednesday, February 4, 2015

First, there is a Samaria in all our lives.

So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (John 4:5-8)

Verse 4 says, And He had to pass through Samaria.  But did he have to?  He could have gone another way.  In fact, most Jews did.  The land of Palestine is about 120 miles long from north to south.  At the time of Jesus, within that 120 miles, there were three definite divisions of territory. Galilee lay in the extreme north, Judea was in the south, and in between was Samaria.
The journey from Judea to Galilee could be done in three days if you went straight up through Samaria.  The alternate route was to cross the Jordan River down in Judea, go up the eastern side of the river not passing through Samaria, then recross the Jordan north of Samaria and enter Galilee there.  Jews would take the longer route because they hated the Samaritans and felt themselves defiled to even be in their presence.

But it wasn’t because of the map, distance, or the convenience; it was because of God’s map for His life.  You see, there is a Samaria on your map and my map -- our maps of personal experience and our life journey.  At one time or another, there is a Samaria in each of our lives.

You see, Samaria is not a place -- it’s an experience.  It may involve an encounter along the path of our life which is fully directed by God.  Someone God needs us to talk to.  For some it may be the experience of illness -- a malignancy that the doctors say will continue its pernicious onslaught against the body.  You still have to pass through it.  For others it is a rebellious child or children.  It is a heart-breaking Samaria in which parents sometimes have to live.

But not all Samarias are in our lives are negative or difficult events.  A wedding is stressful and truly a place many will be led to go through; but it is also joyful.  Birth of children, new jobs, changing churches...these can all be Samarias in our lives.  What is a Samaria?  Anywhere you feel God is leading you that seems a bit outside of the normal path of life; a place where God can use you if it is even for a moment.

The disciples we discover later would never have gone there; they would never have spoken to the woman at the well.  Too many traditions and cultural signs pointed in the other directions.  Jesus, however, felt a calling to change the normal path a Jew would take.  Not only that, He felt the need to do what others would not do when He got there.

How much of your life runs on tracks?  That is, how many times are we going down the same road to the same places for the same reason with the same people?  Our journey through life is often one that can be charted by almost anyone who knows us well.  They know the tracks we run on.

It is interesting that when we get off of the track and turn into some new places we find ourselves confronted with challenges and people who make us a bit uncomfortable.  That’s probably why we stick to the course and vary only when it is required by some life issue or circumstance.

Are we really open to God’s leading us into and through a Samaria?  Sooner or later, most of us will have to pass through one.  Maybe we should look around and see if God doesn’t already have us in Samaria and now we need to see what He wants to do with us.  We’ll talk about that tomorrow.

Scripture to Claim: "And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.”  Matthew 10:7-8

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