Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


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The Woman at the Well

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It is too hot to go to the well.

Day after day as I walk my memories haunt me.

I remember happy times when I joined the other women collecting water in the cool of the day.

Now I avoid them, and they avoid me. I see them looking sometimes when I have to go to the market; looking through me, or staring with disdain, and some who want to smile but fear the consequences of mixing with a fallen woman…

The days were happy, my husband a young man not much older than me, well loved by all. Some of those who eye me with disdain now were jealous then. His death was catastrophic, a widow before I was 30, and no hope of re-marrying. I had nothing and no one to help me.

I came from another place and could not go back. The people of Sychar thought that I had brought a curse on my husband; I had given him no son and he had died in the prime of life. To them I was to blame and must be shunned.

I did what I could, I was still young and attractive, I found a lover who gave me enough to keep body and soul together. When he left there were others…… Every day I hate myself for what I have become, but what else could I do?

There is a man at the well, this stops me in my tracks. Why is there a man at Jacob’s well at the 6th hour? As I draw nearer I am even more shocked, he is a stranger, a Jew.

Seeing me there alone in the heat of the day he must know that I am a disgraced woman but he speaks to me:
“Please give me a drink.”
“You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
( I have never heard of a Jew speaking to a Samaritan)

“If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

I am so confused, maybe he has been in the sun for too long, so I ask But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket, and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?

Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.

Either he is mad or a great prophet, I ask “Please, sir, give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water..”
“Go and get your husband.”

For a moment I just stare at him. His eyes seem to look into my soul, I see mixture of judgement and mercy. He cannot be much older than me, but his face tells of experience and wisdom far beyond his years. Quickly dropping my gaze, I noticed his hands, they are not the soft hands of a Rabbi, they are hands that have worked. I am trying to understand what this means. The words “I don’t have a husband Spill out of my mouth and I am lost, damned,  the Jews always stone adulterers…..

He is speaking again You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!

How does he know? And if he knows, why did he even speak to me? Emboldened I say Sir, you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?.”

The prophet continues Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

I am filled with awe, who IS this man? “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

His answer stuns me I Am the Messiah!.”

A group of men are walking towards us, carrying food. They have come from the town – a Jewish prophet who sends his disciples into a Samaritan town? They are a rag tag bunch, most look more like they should be working the land or fishing, rather than following a prophet, but then I think He too was a working man. They are surprised to see him talking to me but none of them questioned me, one or two even smiled.

My water-pot forgotten, not even thinking of what will happen to me I go as quickly as I can to the city. The men are shocked to see me but before they can say a word I tell them, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” Curious they follow me back to the well. When we get there his disciples are urging Him to eat. But he seems to be waiting for us. I hear the disciples speaking amongst themselves, pointing at us as we near the well. They don’t look surprised, one of them is saying that Jesus always draws those who are thirsty for truth.

Jesus and His disciples are being invited to stayed in Sychar. The whole town will hear him and will believe. The men are saying to me, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Saviour of the world”

Walking back to the town behind the men, I am met by the women who used to be my friends; the men do not stop them. They have heard the news, they ply me with questions. These women whom I love and thought I would never speak with again are holding my hands, tears of joy are falling from my eyes as I tell them all that Jesus said to me.

I know that from this time forward my life will be different. I have met the Messiah, my sins have been forgiven, my life renewed.

A story based on John 4:4-42 (quoted text from NLT)

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Reasoning not Ranting

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord , “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18 NASB )

Many people cannot “get their heads round” me being a scientist and a born again Christian. They assume that any religious person must be irrational and foolish. My background includes biochemistry, and cell & developmental biology although I have been teaching in an F.E. college for over 16 years. I have always been particularly interested in the organisation and functioning of cells. During my pregnancy (before I was reborn myself) I remember being in constant state of wonder at the new life that was growing in me. Each day I would look up the stages to see what the baby would look like ( yes, she was a baby to me right from the start). I did not have amniocentesis, as advised due to my age, we both knew that this child was a gift and we loved her ….. Before I had read the Psalms, I knew that she was “fearfully and wonderfully made”.

As I learn more about life and the universe and how all things are intricately woven together, it is more than enough to convince me that there is a Creator. However, I know that for many of my family, friends, colleagues, students etc. believing God is simply not something that they can even start to comprehend. Just this week I had an incredulous student ask if I believed in God. We were talking about DNA and proteins, they are truly mutually dependent molecules giving the classic “chicken and egg ” scenario. I carefully explained that there are no mechanisms known that can explain how these complex molecules arose, and invited him to have coffee with me sometime to talk in more depth….something I always when challenged on my faith….

Because I have often felt inadequate to answer some of these questions the last year or so I have started a journey to educate myself in apologetics. To help me to be “prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks [me] for a reason for the hope that is in [me]; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when [I am] slandered, those who revile [my] good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame“. (1 Peter 3:14-16)

I have read many commentaries and blogs. Some are well thought out and obviously written by a person who is deeply steeped in the Word. Others are less so. And then there are the rants – it’s like being yelled at from the page. The worst offenders, of course, are the trolls ranting in the comments box. The “new atheists” are often particularly vitriolic in their mission to convert all of us foolish believers. However, the “Christians” are often no better. Look at any article that is even a tiny bit atheistic and there are always hell fire and brimstone rants amongst the comments.

It is too tempting to have a rant at some of the verbiage that people spew out. But it has never seemed right to right to me to “yell” back:
“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either”. (Luke 6:29)

As mature Christians it is essential that we engage our brains before opening our mouths or tapping onto our keyboards. As James tells us:
“So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. “(James 3:5-10)

There are so many scripture passages that I could quote but here are another couple which I think are particularly relevant:
“See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone”. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9)

Whilst we should always be ready to answer questions about our faith, we don’t need to defend God.