The woman trudged through the field, walking the path worn by ancient feet and cemented by the townswomen’s continued daily pilgrimage for water. She squinted in the sun and flapped her arms a bit to force air toward her armpits.

Someone was sitting by the well. She slowed her pace, hoping he would move on before she arrived, but he seemed to be looking at her, waiting for her. With twenty feet still between them, she could tell he was a Jew. Her back stiffened; her jaw clenched. She was not only a woman but also a Samaritan: already two strikes against her in the eyes of this self-righteous Jewish man.

John 4:4-14.

I’m working on a mini Bible study about the woman at the well (John 4), but I couldn’t wait to share this with you all! Yes, I know I already have four posts on this story, starting *here*, but there’s always more to learn in God’s Word.

Can you see her there, having already judged Jesus, certain he had judged her as well? What did she do?

  • Did she hang her head and avoid eye contact, hoping she could just get her water and go?
  • Did she stop when she reached the well, back straight, and glare at him, daring him to speak first?
  • Did she roll her eyes, thinking she knew what he wanted, and mentally construct a sarcastic response?

Knowing her background, what would you have done?

Jesus speaks first. “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)

She acts insulted, like Jesus is an idiot, and everyone knows better than to do what he’s doing (speak to her), to ask what he’s asking (share with him).

This woman is not looking for
the Messiah. She’s just trying
to get her chores done.

This woman is not looking for the Messiah. She’s just trying to get her chores done. And when he says he can give her some kind of eternal, “living water,” she looks around for a pail he can use to carry it. Her mind is entirely on the practical.

Right here—right in this moment—is what I want you to see today.

We work so hard and search about for the best tools to help us make it through life, but we get a temporary fix at best, like this woman, who came for water every day. She couldn’t move past her sensible, practical need. She couldn’t imagine a different kind of water—one that didn’t require a container. She was so caught up in “doing life” that she couldn’t recognize the Provider standing right in front of her.

We’re the same way. We have an idea of what things should work and how, and we immerse ourselves in that common-sense practicality.

Is there an area of your life in which you lean heavily on the practical? On having and using the proper tools? On making the regular effort?

Jesus is in the ordinary
routines of everyday life.

We’re so busy “doing life” that we wonder, “Where is Jesus in all this?” All the time, He’s right here, waiting for us to recognize Him in the ordinary routines of everyday life. That’s where He lives, too.

Living water: Are you looking for a pail or looking to the Provider? My #everydaylife is #NotAboutMe via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)

This post is shorter than my usual. It’s been a busy week, but I wanted to give you a little something to think about. Where is Jesus in your everyday routines? Is there some aspect in which you’ve been focusing on the pail rather than the provider? The comments are not a confessional, but I’d love to hear from you if this post has caused you to stop and think.

17 thoughts on “She Was Looking for a Pail, Not a Provider

  1. I’m an ex-engineer so the practical and most efficient are my focus. God often takes me on impractical detours that teach me about Him and about myself. Too often, I want to learn about Him by my formula. He likes to teach me that no formula can define Him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I confess, I’m in the busy “doing life” mode. And another yes, I’m stuck in the practical. Love the way you remind us that Jesus is RIGHT THERE. I just need to look, listen, and feel. Sometimes I’m as dense and slow as the Samaritan woman, but at least she figured it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your stuff! This is so pertinent to my life right now. I had a sense of how this whole writing thing would unfold. God is at work… slowly. But it’s not happening the way I’d planned or anticipated AT ALL. And I’m beginning to see His way is bigger and better than mine, despite some initial disappointments. When will I learn?

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  4. Carole, I love how you painted us a picture of the bored woman just doing her chores on a hot day. Your writing takes me to the scene. I have never noticed until today that she looked for his pail, but she had to! She commented on the fact he didn’t have anything to draw water with! Great insight. I love seeing new details. The word of God is so fresh and new, every time. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

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