Water in the Desert

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 23 March 2014 (Third Sunday of Lent)

Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 95:1-2, 6-9; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42 (Find the readings here).

The journey with God into the unknown is a frightening one. What if we reach a point, like the People of God in the Exodus reading, where we are in the desert and there is no water? In our thirst will we panic, or grumble and complain? Will we blame our dryness on our circumstances, on our leaders, on this crazy journey? Will we question whether God is even with us? Or will we remember to do what the people forget – call out to God and trust God to provide?

The woman that Jesus meets has a bucket and a well from which to draw water, but he recognises in her a different kind of thirst. In this unsolicited encounter across religious and social divides, she receives the gift she didn’t even know to ask for: living water bubbling up from her depths and overflowing in joyous testimony to others. She experiences Jesus as the one who sees her in her depths, her shame and her beauty, her hopes, dreams and regrets, her shadow as well as her light: “Come and see a man who told be everything I have done.” There must have been incredible love and acceptance in Jesus’ eyes for her to experience being so thoroughly seen as something transformative and life-giving.

That unconditional divine love is ours too, even before we know to ask for it. We don’t earn it; it is God’s gift. God’s Spirit awakens our spirits to newness and to life. Would such a gracious, loving God ever lead us into the desert only to abandon us? Our God causes living water to gush forth from the rock, even when that rock is our defensive, untrusting, unhopeful hearts.

Petra’s song – ‘Don’t let your heart be hardened’ – is a beautiful response to Psalm 95.  Take a listen here.

Words and music by Bob Hartman
Based on Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:13

Don’t let your heart be hardened – don’t let your love grow cold
May it always stay so childlike – may it never grow too old
Don’t let your heart be hardened – may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure.

May it always feel compassion – may it beat as one with God’s
May it never be contrary – may it never be at odds
May it always be forgiving – may it never know conceit
May it always be encouraged – may it never know defeat

Don’t let your heart be hardened – don’t let your love grow cold
May it always stay so childlike – may it never grow too old
Don’t let your heart be hardened – may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure

May your heart be always open – never satisfied with right
May your heat be filled with courage and strengthened with all might
Don’t let your heart be hardened – may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure

Let His love rain down upon you
Breaking up your fallow ground
Let it loosen all the binding
Till only tenderness is found

Don’t let your heart be hardened – don’t let your love grow cold
May it always stay so childlike – may it never grow too old
Don’t let your heart be hardened – may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure.

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About Jessie Rogers

I'm a Scripture scholar and Godly Play practitioner living in Ireland.
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