Thankful: God seeks me

So (Jesus) left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”

– John 4:3-7

Today I am thankful that God seeks me.

On Jesus’s travels from Judea to Galilee, Scripture says “He had to go through Samaria on the way.” Most Jews would have gone the long way to avoid the Samaritan people, who they found contemptible. Instead, Jesus was filled with compassion, and set out to meet a woman who desperately needed love and freedom only God could give her.

Jesus came a long way to meet this woman. He made sure He and the disciples arrived at a well at just the right time. Scripture says Jesus was tired and weary, but He was ready to transform lives. Jesus intentionally sought this particular woman out, a woman who was suffering under the weight of the town’s rejection and gossip, beneath the burden of her many sins. He asked her for a drink, even though He intended to give her living water.

God had it all arranged. From before time, God had pictured this moment, set in motion every detail, and loved this forsaken Samaritan and all those the story of her experience with Jesus would impact.

God seeks us, too. He places circumstances in our path that will ultimately lead us to encounter His grace. He wants to meet with us, talk with us, and change us.

So often, we think that WE are the ones coming to God or returning to Him, when HE has been seeking us and pursuing us all along. It was God who created us. Jesus stepped out of Heaven and set aside His glory for us.

As Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” His cross demonstrates the lengths God went to do just that.

Underestimated

Scripture Crumbs from John 4:1-42. Read the full account of Jesus’ encounter with a Samaritan woman.

Then the woman left her water jar, went into town, and told the men, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” They left the town and made their way to Him.

– John 4:28-30

Every one of us is underestimated. There will be people who look into our lives and see the mess instead of the promise. They underestimate our value, our skill sets, our character, our knowledge and our ability to make a difference. No matter how hard we try to escape or struggle against the false judgment, it is there and it becomes easy to believe.

Every one of us underestimates others. Even without mean-spirited intention, we made assumptions without facts, we look down on others choices and we often expect the worst instead of giving people the opportunity to rise to the occasion. In this world of underestimaters, we are often the worst, especially when it comes to underestimating ourselves.

John chapter 4 records a story of a woman who was underestimated and who underestimated herself and God. It reveals the disciples underestimation, and it showcases how Jesus loved them all just as they were and transformed an underestimated pocket of people yearning for significance.

As I read this familiar story again (have you read this story yet today? Go do it!), here are four lessons God teaches about underestimation.

1. Jesus loves those we have underestimated and written off.

As this chapter opens, Jesus is beginning to develop a following. In fact, more people are coming to be baptized by Jesus’ disciples than by John the Baptist. Instead of capitalizing on his growing notoriety, Jesus leaves. He goes to the one place no self-respecting Jew would go: Samaria. And, all of his groupies, save the disciples He chose, suddenly disappeared. Scriptures say that Jesus “had to” travel through Samaria to get to His destination. Though almost every Jew would have taken the long route around this despised area, Jesus had someone to meet. There was a woman who would be coming by Jacob’s well near Sychar around noon, whose life was a disaster zone. She knew that by coming in the heat of the day, she would avoid all the drama, condemning whispers and glares of judgment. On this particular day, she achieved her goal. She met Jesus.

The person you and I have written off is the person Jesus bucked the system for and put His reputation in danger to save. She is the one He left heaven for to meet and transform. He is who Jesus desires to rescue. Jesus never underestimates us. We were worth His death on the cross.

2. We often underestimate Jesus, but He knows our avoidance games and will speak directly to us.

Why do we play games with God? Do we really think we can throw God off or redirect the conversation to avoid the conviction hot seat? Just like this Samaritan woman, we’d rather shift the focus to another dicey issue than have the attention focused on our sin. Jesus is truth, and we can count on Him to be honest with us, even if we are avoiding the message. Jesus outright told the Samaritan woman that He knew the man she was currently with wasn’t her husband and that she’d actually had five husbands. No matter the avoidance technique, Jesus continued to reveal His identity and purpose to her. Finally, He told her directly that He was the Messiah. She could no longer hide. She believed.

We can not build a wall too thick around our hearts that Jesus cannot kick down. He wants all of us, not just what is on the surface or what is convenient. He is not interested in only small talk, He wants to pour out His love and forgiveness in our hidden and deeply buried places. No matter how we duck and cover, Jesus’ grace will find us out.

3. Never underestimate your faith story.

When the Samaritan woman realized her need and believed in Jesus, the reason she came to the well no longer mattered. She dropped her water jug and ran back into town. Instead of hiding from the drama of her soiled reputation, she began to draw attention as she confronted all the men in town with what had just happened and who she had just met. Her testimony was simple: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?” She had no fancy words, no five-step evangelism training. She had simply met Jesus. And, she invited people to come meet Him, too.

Do you underestimate your salvation story? My experience wasn’t flashy. I don’t have a jaw-dropping, heart-rending story to tell. In fact, there have been times where I’ve felt my decision to follow Jesus seemed rather conventional. I was a kid. I realized I needed Jesus. I prayed and asked Him to come into my heart. I wasn’t delivered from drugs or addiction. Jesus didn’t appear to me in a dream or vision. I didn’t have a near-death experience and embrace God.

When my husband and I first started serving in full-time ministry, I met a teen who felt that same way. Her story of coming to Jesus was, in her words, just ordinary and nothing special. But one particular night, I had her share that “run-of-the-mill” story anyway to the small group. Right there in our circle, two other girls realized their need for Jesus. We all prayed together, and as they received Jesus as their Savior, the student who shared her story realized how extraordinary her salvation was.

Jesus taught me that night that each time that God draws a person to Himself and they believe in His sacrifice and salvation, it is an absolute, astounding miracle.

4. Don’t underestimate an opportunity to share the Gospel. It is ALWAYS worth it!

The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus was talking to a woman at the well when they returned from buying food in town. And when Jesus refused to eat anything they brought back with them, they were even more confused. They didn’t know why in the world Jesus would make them come there.

Jesus explained to them: “Don’t you say, ‘There are still four more months, then comes the harvest’? Listen to what I’m telling you: Open your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ready for harvest.”

Sure enough, as the disciples turned around, they saw person after person streaming out of the town they had just been in, wanting to see and experience Jesus for themselves. Because the people of the town asked, Jesus and His disciples stayed there for two more days, and many believed because of the Samaritan woman’s testimony and invitation.

And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”

It all makes sense, then – why Jesus had to go through Samaria, why He sent his disciples into town to buy food, why Jesus sought out this Samaritan woman of all people.

Jesus doesn’t underestimate you or me. He sees us just as we are, and chooses to love us. He reveals His identity to us, and when we believe in Him, He will transform us.

May we who are underestimated share our stories without shame, and watch as Jesus reaps a harvest around us!