My husband teases me that he is writing a song called, “That’s Not a Question.” I have a terrible habit of asking for what I want instead of stating it directly. Maybe you will recognize this pattern in a friend or family member. Instead of telling my children when and how they can be helpful, I ask them, “Do you want to carry Grandma’s suitcase?” or “Would you like to clean up the kitchen before I get home?” And then I get angry when they say, “No,” because, even though I phrased it as a question, it wasn’t meant as a question.
There are times when I feel like I cannot state a want or need directly, so I offer it in the form of a question. Or I project my desire onto someone else in the form of a question, hoping they will hear my need. Recently I asked my husband, “Jeff, would you like to go to the beach for spring break?” But it’s not an honest question.
I appreciate the conversation in today’s reading between Jesus and the woman at the well because they speak directly. They ask for what they need: water. Living water. They respect each other enough to be honest, despite cultural barriers and gender expectations. They speak truthfully without feeling the need to make a moral judgment or offer a self-righteous defense.
Their interaction is refreshing and instructive for me because I tend to communicate more like the Israelites and Moses in Exodus 17. I may prompt a quarrel about something insignificant or make a dishonest request to avoid naming the thing I really need or want. I can choose to communicate indirectly and risk forty years of restlessness outside of God’s promises. Or I can find the courage to ask for exactly what I need, receive it, and serve my entire community by sharing my blessings.
God, as we speak and ask questions, grant us the courage to come before you and one another in spirit and truth. Amen.
Three of the passages this week connect water and faith. In Exodus and the psalm, we read about the Israelites grumbling in the desert. Although they have seen God’s mighty deeds in Egypt, they have begun to question God’s provision for them. God provides water through Moses, but the place is remembered (and named) as a site where the faith of the people fails. In John, however, a place to draw water becomes a site of salvation for the Samaritan woman and eventually for the people in her village through her faith. The reading in Romans goes a different direction. Paul emphasizes the importance of faith in the face of trials and the fact that God brings salvation through Christ when fallen humanity has no other hope.
Read Exodus 17:1-7. How do your memories of God’s provision sustain you through tough stages of your spiritual journey?
Read Psalm 95. What object, image, or memory serves for you as a symbol of God’s faithfulness?
Read Romans 5:1-11. How have you found hope in stages of life when God is forming your character through suffering and endurance?
Read John 4:5-42. When has letting go of your expectations or rules allowed God to work freely in your life or in the lives of others around you?
Respond by posting a prayer.