Most of us know the story of Jack and Jill really well. It’s a kid’s poem that dates back to the 18th century. Many of us learned it as a nursery rhyme when we were little kids. If you’ve never heard the story of Jack and Jill because you live under a rock or in a cave or something, here it is:
“Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.”
Apparently, there’s a young couple named Jack and Jill. They were thirsty and they wanted something to drink so they grabbed a bucket and climbed a hill where there was apparently a well. Now somewhere along the journey, Jack has an accident, falls down the hill, and suffers some type of head injury from the fall. Jill comes tumbling down the same hill; no report on her injuries.
We don’t know much else about Jack and Jill. The story doesn’t explain why Jack fell down the hill, or why Jill was caught up in the chain reaction. We don’t know. Jack could have tripped; we all do from time to time. There could have been a root on the trail and his foot caught it and he fell. Or maybe he just wasn’t paying attention and wandered off the edge of the cliff and Jill was caught in the wake of Jack’s mistake. Maybe Jill wanted out of the marriage and pushed Jack over the cliff for insurance money. Make up your own details.
What we do know is this: Jack and Jill were looking for something to satisfy their thirst, they climbed a hill to find something to satisfy that thirst, and on the quest to have their thirst satisfied an accident takes place and the result leaves them both lying at the bottom of a hill injured, bruised, and I assume, still thirsty.
Sound familiar? To many of us, we could replace their names with ours and this could be our story. “I was thirsty, I went in search of something to satisfy my thirst. I made a mistake or someone else made a mistake and along the way I got hurt, and I’m still thirsty.” We’re thirsty, we go in search of something to satisfy our thirst, to fill a void in our life, to make us feel complete and give us purpose. But what happened to Jack and Jill happens to us.
There’s a story in the Bible* about a woman who was thirsty. So she took her bucket and went to the well (for the purposes of this blog, let’s assume the well is on a hill…just humor me). But on her journey, she encountered Jesus. Jesus asked the woman for a drink, and she was surprised. Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan: mortal enemies. If a Jew saw a Samaritan walking down the street, he would either beat the Samaritan up, or at the very least cross over and walk by on the other side. So the woman is startled and shocked that Jesus would ask her for a drink.
So she asks him, “Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied (I’m paraphrasing), “Lady, if you only knew who I am, you’d be asking me for a drink of a whole different kind of water…”
We go on to learn that this woman has been married a few times. Five to be exact. And now, Jesus reveals, she’s living with a man she isn’t married to. She keeps repeating the same mistakes over and over with the same results, which is the definition of insanity. Because of her mistakes and her past, she ends up with a really hard life.
She’s injured, beat up, rejected, and feeling broken. She’s thirsty, but has no idea where to find the water that will satisfy her thirst. We know that, as a Samaritan, she would never have been welcomed or allowed to worship at the Jewish temple. She was an outsider, alone and with nowhere to turn.
Ever felt that way? Odds are that whether you’ve never been inside a church building before or even if you’re in a seat in church every weekend, you’ve felt this way at some point. Feeling empty, looking for a way to fill the void in your life. Are you looking in the right direction?
We try to fill these voids with money, possessions, alcohol, drugs or another addiction, relationships, sex….we’re driven by a constant need to feel whole. And here sits Jesus, at the well, right in front of us, saying, “If you only knew…”
Maybe you’ve pursued Jesus, tried going to church and opening yourself up to being a part of that kind of community, but you’ve been burned. It happens to everyone at some point. That’s an unfortunate part of being around people. We hurt each other.
If that’s the case, just know you aren’t alone. Ask God to heal your wounds and give you the strength to forgive the person who has hurt you. They may not even know they hurt you; often times, we wound others without even realizing what we’ve done. I’ve been guilty of that, and you may have too. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It’s the hardest thing to do. But when we release the pain of the grudges that we hold, it’s like stepping out of a hot room into the cool summer breeze and taking a deep breath. You feel liberated and free.
Most importantly, remember to keep your focus on what really matters. Your destination, your goal, your water to satisfy your thirst is Jesus. HE is what you need. You will be hurt along the way. You’ll feel damaged. If you didn’t, you would be lying to yourself. Remember to focus on Him and trust Him for the strength to move beyond the pain of your past.
When you’re thirsty, don’t worry about people, don’t worry about the past, and don’t worry about your problems. Just take a step. Meet Jesus at the well.
*The story of the woman at the well is found in John chapter 4.