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.
Jesus entered Samaria and encountered a woman drawing water in the heat of the day. Even though he was the one asking for some water, she would be the one in for a surprise. Engaging in the work of the kingdom of Christ can be tricky. We frequently are sent into places and situations without a full awareness of our role. The assumption quite often, especially if you are coming from a place of privilege, is that you are the one who is going to give. After all, we are the ones with the resources; whether money, degrees, or time. Those being served have little to nothing, so it is reasonable and understandable, to us, that we are there to give.
We should be asking questions like, "Where can God best use me?" and, "What would God have me to do?" But it never ceases to catch my attention when folks return from a service project or mission trip with the words, "we received far more than we gave." We arrive at most places just like the Samaritan woman--hot, parched, empty, and in search of water.
Thankfully, Jesus shows up to quench our thirst. And the good news for us is that Jesus spoke very clearly about the kinds of places where we will find Him. He tells us that when we visit the hospital, we will see His face in the face of the sick; that when we feed those who are hungry, we will see His face in the face of the poor; and that when we visit criminals in their incarceration, we will see His face in the face of the prisoner. Sometimes Jesus is discussed as the homeless man receiving Sunday morning breakfast at the shelter or the child with the ill-fitting clothes in our classroom who chooses to share a portion of his lunch with someone else. If we get stuck on outward appearance, we can miss the gift of God standing right in front of us, or sitting on the lip of the well beside us. If we get distracted by what He's asking for, we can miss the wealth of what He came to give.
We often are like the Samaritan woman standing before Jesus. In His presence, we spout off claims of our historical ownership of the well and the water pot. We stand with pride in our knowledge of the local customs while Jesus stands before us, hands empty yet overflowing with living water, bringing us new life. If we adjust our eyes to look past the disheveled or downcast, we might be surprised to see Christ.