Have you ever gotten behind an oversized load with one of those accompanying pickup trucks that block the lane so you can’t pass on the bridges or narrow areas on the road? Sitting on the tractor trailer is a huge dark building swaying ominously and you are afraid to try to get past it.
How are we to get past the pandemic, the chaos in the world, the pain in our lives, loss, anger, and fear? All we need is love, right?
We seek and need love, and frequently we equate love with physical pleasure, with sex. Think about how advertisers use sex to sell products. Cars + sexy women + strong handsome men. What does that say? Viagara with the two old people in tubs looking smugly out to sea? Sex = love, we are told, and if we have that, we will be satisfied.
This is a common human misunderstanding. In the Bible in the gospel of John, there is a deep and remarkable story about a Samaritan Woman. She has lived with several guys, but her promiscuity has not quenched her deeper yearnings. Instead, she’s gotten herself off track from her family and her community. They won’t talk to her and they avoid her.
Respectable Jewish people never went to her country, the land of Samaria. In fact, good Jews would rather go a thousand miles out of their way to avoid this area that they viewed as tainted.
But Jesus, this very Jewish man, does not go around Samaria. Instead, he intentionally walks through it and stops for a drink of water.
The Samaritan woman is at the well. Normally, women would be chatting with one another, talking about their kids, what they were going to cook for dinner, the latest gossip. But not this woman. She’s all alone.
When Jesus, this Jewish guy, asks her for a drink, she becomes aggressive. She has deep emotional wounds. Her people don’t hang out with her, and now this Jewish guy, who according to all she’s ever heard about Jews, thinks he’s better than her, is telling her about living water. She is very angry not because she lacks water, but because her life is dry and lonesome.
Jesus engages her in a conversation. She is probably surprised and shocked that any man is willing to talk to her, and listen to her, that is to say: any man who isn’t after something from her.
Jesus reaches her right where she lives: in her abandonment, in her loneliness, and in her anger, and he successfully becomes living water for her. His inclusion, his willingness to be with her without judging her quenches her thirst. She is alive again. She has hope.
Jesus always fills us with what we need. He comes into our lives to relieve suffering, and to give us the means to become whole, healed, free, and restored to our communities.
In my novel, Naomi and Ruth: Loyalty Among Women, you will read about the love of Ruth for Naomi. love that is unconditional just as Jesus' love is for all people and includes those of us suffering and those of us who are lost. Ruth leaves everything to follow Naomi but in the end her life becomes fruitful with the birth of a son who is an ancestor of King David.
Truly, All We Need is Love, but we must choose our love wisely.