Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What Are You Thirsting For?

What are you thirsting for?

What unfulfilled dreams drive you? What unrealized goals motivate your actions? What is the “something more” that exceeds your grasp and pushes you to try harder?

All of us in the pit of our being live with an unmet need. At times we experience it as anxiety or restlessness. It can be the lingering feeling of disappointment when we reach a milestone that does not seem to satisfy us the way we expected. We know that we are made for great things, for that “something more”. However, no matter how hard we look, it manages to elude us.

In today’s gospel, Jesus meets a woman who was thirsting for that “something more”. Her drive for love and intimacy took her through five marriages. As if that were not enough, she was living with a man who was not her husband. There is no doubt that she was restless and unsatisfied.

What did her life-long search for love and belonging get her? Much heartbreak. With each of those failed marriages she must have felt devastating rejection and numbing shame. She had become an outcast in her village. That is why she sets out at the hottest hour of the day in the desert to draw water from the well. She hoped that she would not bump into the other women of her town. She hoped to avoid their condescending stares and mocking whispers.

All her life, she thirsted for love and belonging, but found herself heartbroken and alone.

And so, in the middle of the desert, underneath the blazing midday sun, whom does she find waiting for her at the well? Jesus.

She is amazed that he would even speak to her. Not only does he speak with her, it turns out that he already knows her. Though he knows her soul and reads its secrets, he does not ridicule or blame her. Rather he wants to be her friend. He makes it clear that he alone can provide her with the water she so desperately needs. He alone can quench the thirst she has been suffering with for so many years. She believes and runs back to the village leaving her water jug behind. She has found the love she was craving and wants to tell everyone about it.

Has your thirst for love and belonging taken you to places you should not have gone? Have you looked for friendship from people who could only take from you and who left you with less than you started with? Has your shame weighed so heavily upon you that you are convinced you do not deserve to be treated any better?

Have you finally had enough? Are you ready to let your thirst lead you to the one who has the power to really satisfy you?

God placed that emptiness within each one of us so that we would search for him. He is the only one who can fill it. Just as we thirst for him, Jesus thirsts for us. He longs for us to come home to him. We can be confident that he will not condemn us or heap more shame on us. Rather, he will heal our broken hearts and fill them with joy. He will restore our dignity, our freedom and our sense of meaning. We will no longer be groping in the dark for that “something more” that has eluded us. Rather we will have a personal relationship with the one for whom our hearts were made.

On the cross, Jesus cried out, “I thirst”. Blood and water flowed out from his pierced heart so that our thirst could be satisfied. Turn to Jesus, then. Be fed by him. Know the peace that he alone can give. And go from this place in joy to tell others so that they can receive the living water that only he can give.

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