When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:7, 9-10
DETOUR AHEAD. Perhaps no sign can so quickly put a damper on a family road trip. All of a sudden we are slowed down, inconvenienced, and made to go into unexpected territory. But what if we experience God more intimately as a result of being taken where we don’t want to go?
In John 4, Jesus decided to return to Galilee from Judea. Although the most direct route passed through Samaria, most Jews at the time chose to avoid the land of their bitter racial enemies, and instead lengthened their journey by traveling around Samaria.Jesus, however, intentionally went through Samaria, but not to save time. While there, he defied two more cultural norms by speaking in public to a Samaritan woman. The self-righteous judgment and downright hatred of the Jews toward Samaritans had been hardening over a period of 500 years by the time of Jesus’ public ministry.
The woman he befriended was so burdened by the shame of her sin, she chose the hottest time of the day to go to the town well so she could avoid contact with those who were sure to remind her of her failings. She was probably surprised by the Jewish man who, despite knowing “everything she ever did,” treated her with dignity while also lovingly calling her to repent. Later in their conversation, Jesus revealed himself as Messiah. Her joyful acceptance of Jesus as Savior resulted in more glory for God, when many of those from her town (who formerly heaped scorn upon her) responded to her testimony by also believing in Jesus as their Savior. None of this would have occurred had Jesus not intentionally detoured into Samaria and ignored the human traditions that kept Jews and Samaritans separate.
PONDER: Who are the Samaritans in your life? What intentional detours toward them is God calling you to take in order to more fully reveal himself to you?
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Ingrid is a passionate follower of Jesus Christ who has a joyful, overflowing spirit. Her love for God is obvious to everyone she meets. “From the moment you meet her, you fall in love with her,” remarked Ashley Thomas, assistant executive director at Hope Street Ministry in Milwaukee. “She’s so kind.”
Ashley met Ingrid at Hope Street, which is a “greenhouse” for people recovering from addictions. Ingrid returned there in 2014 to defeat her lifelong battle with drugs and alcohol. Within that safe and protected environment, full of God’s grace, Ingrid began to thrive in her relationship with Jesus. After decades of easing her emotional pain with substances and concealing the hurt underneath, Ingrid experienced healing.
Her substance abuse had started around the age of 16, in response to the trauma and violence she had endured at home. Her parents divorced when she was five years old; and by the time she had reached the age of ten, she had been verbally and sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend. She was regularly exposed to drugs and gambling. “I was enslaved by lifestyles. And that’s the violence that I endured,” she says.
A high school dropout and teen mom, Ingrid turned to life on the streets, where she entered into a vicious cycle of destructive behaviors that were perpetuated by even more violence and poverty. She survived by conning people, dealing drugs, stripping in clubs, and becoming a prostitute. Her life was a downward spiral.
She had just lost custody of her eighth child when she returned to Hope Street, resolved to let God change her. She knew “everything was going to be on the table.” She let her guard down and God worked within her, healing her and giving her the power of Christ.
“I am not ashamed anymore!” she declared in a public testimony. “I am not ashamed to be happy and free—not hopeless and not helpless. I am not afraid to tell people about what happened.”
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