Article Written by: Titi Funto O.
~ It was a very hot day. Pretty much like any other. The dusty sand-filled streets were practically empty. Yet here she was, under the sun, a bucket in one hand. She must be out of her mind, she thought. Fetching water at noon? Under this scorching sun? She sighed, wiping the sweat off her brow. She would rather be out in the heat at this time than wait till sundown when the other women came out to fetch water from the well as well. She couldn’t stand their gossip. The way they looked at her, judging. The things they said to her. No, she couldn’t take any more of that. The burning sun was nothing compared to the things the other women said about her. She shut her eyes as if wishing away the words that had hunted her for years now, the loneliness, the wrong choices she had made. She opened her eyes to see a man sitting beside the well. She could tell he was a Jew. She stiffened and hesitated. Sucking in some air, she approached the well, staring curiously at the stranger…readying herself to be ignored and shunned. ~
There’s this thing called grace that I will probably never understand. And then there’s mercy. We hear about grace all the time. And we are told countless times how God is merciful. I recently attended a spring retreat where I learnt that grace was receiving something nice you didn’t deserve. And mercy was not receiving something nasty that you did deserve. I love the distinction. But very often no matter how many times I am told about grace or mercy, I have a hard time getting my head around either. I think, if I don’t read my bible, pray, volunteer to help the needy, serve in church, and have some quiet time with God – amongst other things - then I am not good enough. It’s crazy right? But you know you’ve been there. I used to lead praise and worship in church and there were certain Sundays where I felt “unworthy” to do so because I hadn’t spent enough time with God during the week. Now, doesn’t that fall into the mindset of working to “earn” something?
Now, let me tell you this, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you did last year or two hours ago. It doesn’t change the way God sees you. You are not “better” in His eyes because you do certain things. No, you’re already pretty awesome. In our last student Bible study, someone described it like this: when you have infinity, it doesn’t matter whether you add 1 or 2 or 5000 to it. It remains infinity. God’s love is already there. You are already accepted by Him so you can’t “do” things in order to add to that love or to that acceptance. That, my friends, is grace.
And do you want to know the mind-blowing part? When I mess up, He doesn’t leave me in my mistake. No, He goes out of His way to reach out to me. And He’s been doing so with the human race since the very beginning. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and hid from him (how many times have we done that?) He came looking for Adam and asked “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). He didn’t wait for Adam to come to Him. The same way, when Cain did not offer up an acceptable sacrifice, God was the one to initiate the conversation when he asked “why are you angry?” (Genesis 4: 6). But not only did God go looking for Adam and Eve after their sin, He even clothed them and covered them up. God covers up our sin and clothes us with grace. Isn’t that beautiful? How He doesn’t shun us despite of our faults? That, my dear friends, is mercy.
But another story in which grace and mercy are demonstrated is that of the Samaritan woman at the well. The Bible tells us that while on his way to Galilee from Judea, Jesus decided to stop by a Samaritan town called Sychar and then He sat down beside a well (John 4). The Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus spoke to her. At first glance, nothing seems odd about that. But when we put on the glasses of those times, we realize there are lots of things wrong with that picture. Firstly, I once read that Jesus could have taken a much shorter route to get to Galilee. Instead, he chose to not only pass by Sychar, but he decided to stop by. Secondly, in those days, men didn’t just publicly speak to women they did not know. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this particular woman was a Samaritan for goodness sake! A Samaritan! Jews and Samaritans weren’t known for friendly conversation back then. Even the woman herself said “how come you, a jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Are you getting the picture? And to top it all off, this was a woman with a very bad record. And that record seemed to be pretty obvious – like stamped on her forehead kind of obvious.
“Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it” John 4:27 MSG.
She was that kind of a woman. Stigmatized and judged. Shunned by society because of the choices she’d made in life. But Jesus went out of His way to meet with her that day. He went out of His way just for her. That blows my mind. In the same way, He goes out of His way to reach out to you and I despite of what we may have done. He seeks to establish a dialogue just like He did with Adam and Eve and with Cain.
The Woman answered “I have no husband”. Jesus said to her, “you are right to say you have no husband. Really you have had five husbands, and the man you live with now is not your husband. You told the truth”. John 4: 17-18 NCV.
The Samaritan woman came clean before Jesus. She didn’t try to hide. You see, her issues might not be my own, but still, just like her I tend to turn to other things instead of going to my Maker. Just like she did, I am encouraged to bring my own issues before God. Bring them out into the open. Dealing with pride? Anger? Feel like you’re too busy to ‘put God first’? That’s OK. But take those issues to Him and bring it to the foot of the cross. He’s waiting.
The Samaritan woman at the well was never the same again after that day. In a brief conversation, Jesus revealed a number of things to her. One of which was His identity as the Messiah. What a privilege! And you know what? The Samaritan woman didn’t have to “do” anything to “deserve” Jesus’ attention nor his revelation. In fact, she pretty much disqualified. But after her encounter with Jesus, she went from being that kind of woman to being the one God used to draw the Samaritans in that town to Himself (John 4: 39-42). That day, the Samaritan woman received grace and mercy. While she deserved to be shunned, Jesus gave her all His attention and while she didn’t deserve a clean slate, He covered up her past (- like God clothed Adam and Eve -) and gave her just that.
And He’s sitting by the well, waiting to meet with us too. Constantly pursuing us. If only we would stop hiding from our flaws or sins, come clean and accept His grace and mercy which were fully demonstrated on the Cross. I’m going to have that conversation with God. How about you?
-Titi Funto O.
Titi Funto Ogunlade is a 22 year old law student and aspiring writer who loves all things literary. She enjoys serving in the music and children’s ministries, appreciates every opportunity spent with family and friends and enjoys watching animations or playing Nintendo with her big sister while laughing till it hurts. She speaks French, Spanish, a bit of German and currently pretends to speak Dutch. Her number one desire is to know God and her passion is to live a life that glories Him. You may visit Titi's blog at Tell The World. You may also catch her on Facebook.