The power of listening

Feb 10, 2008 by: Sam Hestorff| Series: Storyline | Category: Storyline
Scripture: John 4:4–4:42

There is something powerful about a story because they have a way of penetrating the soul and challenging us in ways that we never thought imaginable because stories have the ability to bring things to life.  They help us experience the aha! 

And in Scripture, stories are used to help us further understand the nature of God.  Who is God and how does he relate to people?  They are designed not just to tell the story of an ancient people but to help us connect to the God who is still writing his narrative.

And this morning, I want to tell you a story that may be familiar to you but I want you to hear it from a different perspective. 

I always preferred Jacob's well, the one that had been giving water to our people from ancient times. I'd already been to the town fountain - I spilled some of that water - and was beaten for it. So, I needed the walk to the well, even at the noon hour.

Who would have thought I would meet a Jewish rabbi there!

He was dusty and thirsty under that noonday sun. He told me he had just walked hours and hours through high hills and low mountains, coming from Judea. He told me to give him a drink and I answered him. Actually I argued with him. I was kind of annoyed. Who was he to speak me?

He asked a simple request, draw me some water, but I did not want to do as he asked.

In fact, I was a bit uncomfortable with this Rabbi. He was sort of pushy. I wanted to leave, but somehow, I couldn't.

He used a word that didn't mean well water. It caught my attention. He offered fresh running water, the kind from a spring or river, life-giving water, vigorous, abundant water that filled one's being. I didn't understand, but when he talked, I believed him. And I wanted what he offered.

Then he told me about my life but He did not scold me or condemn me. Yes, I carry my scars, who doesn't.? I've been widowed, divorced, childless, abandoned, now kept as servant and somehow Jesus knew all of it.

This man of God saw my poverty, my rejection. The love in his eyes and the concern in his voice made me bold. Against my will I cried out once more for acceptance and care. I said: "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw."

But Jesus gave me -- himself.

I had been to the well often -- Jesus noted that I had been five times to the marriage well -- and I was still thirsty for a fulfilling life, a refreshing fellowship.

I kind of got an odd feeling about this time in our conversation. You see, in the Torah, there are many stories when a Jewish boy and a foreign girl meet at a well, a marriage follows. Moses met his eventual wife at a well. Jacob, the heir of Isaac (Abraham's son), also met his wife Rachel, an Aramean, at a well. And Jacob's father Isaac had his eventual marriage to Rebekah arranged by a meeting at a well between one of his father Abraham's servants and Rebekah.

So I had to wonder, was Jesus courting me?

I quickly realized that wasn't the case.  He just wanted to know me - he cared about my story, he cared about who I was.  He wanted to penetrate my soul.

So, I quickly changed the subject. I asked "Why is it that we Samaritans worship on Mt. Gerizim there while you Jews worship in Jerusalem?"

I figured that if I focus on a religious "hot topic" than we wouldn't have to keep talking about my spiritual depravity.  It is amazing how often religious issues are used to avoid spiritual matters.  Isn't it?

But somehow Jesus turned it back to a spiritual question. He told me, "The hour is coming when neither in this place nor in Jerusalem will you worship God, for the hour is coming and in fact is already here when true worshippers can worship God in spirit and in truth wherever they are, for God seeks that kind of worship. God is Spirit, and those who worship must worship in Spirit and in Truth."

There go all the divisions that have separated human beings one from another.

Jesus was suggesting that the divisions of Samaritan and Jew are all artificial and make-believe, and the hour is coming when true worshippers recognize that God is Spirit and looks for worship that has discovered that.

The form of worship, the place of worship, the type of worship are all important but only as means to the end that we worship God in spirit and truth.

Wow, after this, I could not sit still. I had to rushed back into townand exclaim, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" In an hour, I had experienced grace, the grace of God, and knew it. The others came, and they sensed something important too. Jesus stayed with us for two days and taught us and loved us.

Remember what I said about expecting a wedding? Maybe there was a sort of marriage. I changed. The relationship with Jesus changed me, and I felt yoked to him, part of him.

And you know that Christ speaks to you, just as he did to me.

 

There is nothing more unique or powerful than a story because stories have a way of penetrating our souls.  They are pathways to creating faith.

You can argue doctrine and program all day long but you can't take away someone's story.  Because a story isn't something they believe, it's who they are.

And like the woman at the well, when we invite Jesus Christ into our lives, he gives to us a new storyline and with that storyline you can tap into the most powerful force of faith. . .  the ability to connect people to Jesus by sharing your story.

And so this morning, we have invited two people from our community to share their stories so that we may be challenged in Christ, the way the Samaritan woman was challenged.

 

original monologue can be found at

http://noevalleyministry.org/sermons/2006/030506.html 

 

 

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