Sharing His Secrets: Intimate Insights from the Women Who Knew Jesusby Vickey Banks
Popular author, Bible study leader, and women's speaker Vickey Banks leads readers on a search for secrets to experiencing life-changing intimacy with God. This thought-provoking, scripturally sound read takes a fresh look at Jesus' face-to-face encounters with women when He walked this earth, asking, "What can their experiences tell us today about walking and talking… See more details below
Popular author, Bible study leader, and women's speaker Vickey Banks leads readers on a search for secrets to experiencing life-changing intimacy with God. This thought-provoking, scripturally sound read takes a fresh look at Jesus' face-to-face encounters with women when He walked this earth, asking, "What can their experiences tell us today about walking and talking with God? Do they know secrets to getting more up close and personal with Him?" In an accurate, yet warm and relational style, Banks reveals what still causes tears to trickle down God's cheeks, moves His heart to compassion, prompts Him to defend and forgive, and makes Him feel loved and enjoyed -- inspiring deeper intimacy with God today.
- The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
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Sharing His Secrets
By Vickey Banks
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2001 Vickey Banks
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRunning on Empty
* * * THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
Eventually he [Jesus] came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the parcel of ground 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." He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, "You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?"
Jesus replied, "If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water."
"But sir, you don't have a rope or a bucket," she said, "and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?"
Jesus replied, "People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life."
"Please, sir," the woman said, "give me some of that water! Then I'll never be thirsty again, and I won't have to come here to haul water."
"Go and get your husband," Jesus told her.
"I don't have a husband," the woman replied.
Jesus said, "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."
"Sir," the woman said, "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?"
Jesus replied, "Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."
The woman said, "I know the Messiah will come-the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
Then Jesus told her, "I am the Messiah!" John 4:5-26, NLT
She was a Samaritan sizzler. A local gal with a rather raunchy reputation. The kind of girl Jesus' mother, Mary, had no doubt warned Him about. She was from the wrong side of the tracks, and she showed up at Jacob's well with an insatiable thirst.
The story of the woman at the well is one of the most popular stories in Scripture. You've probably heard it before and may have felt that you and the woman at the well didn't have much in common (unless, of course, you've been married five times and are sleeping over with somebody new). On closer inspection, however, it becomes apparent that we share with the Samaritan woman a common struggle: finding true fulfillment in life.
The Samaritan woman's conversation with Christ is the longest recorded conversation He had with anyone. They met during one of her everyday errands, and they talked about everything from getting a drink of water to where to worship God. It would be difficult to adequately address everything they talked about in one chapter. But we can study their conversation and learn a great deal about meeting the deepest needs of our souls.
Rebel with a Cause
The conversation between the woman at the well and Jesus never should have happened. As a matter of fact, Jesus had far more reasons not to talk with her than to strike up a conversation with her. The prejudices of the day prohibited public conversations between men and women, between Jews and Samaritans, and especially between strangers. Normally, a Jewish rabbi would rather go thirsty than violate these proprieties. In fact, "A Rabbi might not even speak to his own wife or daughter or sister in public.... For a Rabbi to be seen speaking to a woman in public was the end of his reputation."
But Jesus wasn't your regular Rabbi.
So there they stood-Jesus and the woman at the well. Alone. In broad daylight. In the middle of the road. Chatting away in plain view of anyone who happened by. It was absolutely scandalous. What would His poor mother have said?
Despite the possibility of disgrace, Jesus rebelled against the rabbinic rules. He ignored the shoulds and should nots and chose to continue their conversation. In so doing, He risked His reputation to save her from her own.
But why? Just because they were both looking for some water to drink? I don't think so.
Because when Jesus looked past the obvious things that should have stood between them, He saw straight into her heart. He knew that her thirst went far deeper than what was in the well before them. He knew that no amount of water (or number of husbands) could fill the emptiness inside her.
Jesus knew more about the woman's need than she did. Isn't that the way it is with us? We think we know what we need to be happy, but once we get it ... well, the satisfaction is short-lived. It's nice but somehow not enough. Before we know it, we've added something new to our what-I-need-in-order-to-be-fulfilled list.
Can you think of something you once thought you had to have, only to realize later that it just wasn't enough? Maybe it was a relationship that has long since fizzled. Possibly it was a marriage you walked into with stars in your eyes, only to end up with more hurt in your heart. Or maybe it was long-awaited financial and professional success that left you feeling empty.
Consider my friend Diane. She had everything she'd ever thought she wanted: the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect hair. Perfectly bored is what she was. Convinced that she was missing out on something more exciting, she left the man she had once considered her ideal, to the shock of everyone around her. It wasn't until she found herself in a second marriage that she realized that husband number two wasn't all fun and games either.
Brenda was convinced that all she wanted was a successful law practice. She painstakingly outlined a master plan. She endured years of schooling. She sacrificed time with friends, her own personal health, and a sizeable amount of money to pursue her dream. Once she achieved the respect and success she had long coveted, and a paycheck her gorgeous new home depended on, she was stunned to realize that she was not only unhappy, but also exhausted, depressed, and suffering panic attacks.
At the end of their experiences, both of these women found themselves to be thirstier than they'd ever been before. They were sure they knew just what they needed right up until they got it. Only then did they realize they were wrong.
Commentary writer William Barclay writes:
In every man there is this nameless unsatisfied longing; this vague discontent; this something lacking; this frustration; this longing which sometimes makes a man squirm his shoulders, he does not know why.
We are thirsty for something that all the people, power, positions, and possessions in this world cannot quench. No matter what we fill our lives with, it never satisfies us for long. Like the woman at the well, we are thirsty deep down in our souls.
Fortunately, God knows what we really need, and that is what He offered the woman at the well. Let's take another look at her story and do something we women are famous for: Let's stop and ask for directions.
What is it we really need and where do we go to get it?
Jesus said to the woman, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water" (John 4:10, NASB).
Living water? What kind of gift is that?
Actually, it is a two-part gift. It's the gift of salvation through God's Son, Jesus, and it's the miraculous indwelling of His Spirit-the Holy Spirit-in the everyday lives of all who put their faith in Him, now and forever. Living water is everlasting life with God.
At first, the Samaritan woman had no idea who Jesus was or what He meant by "the gift of God" and "living water." What Jesus meant figuratively, she took literally. He was trying to use her physical need for water to show to her a far greater spiritual need for Him, but she misunderstood. She thought that Jesus meant real water. Spring water. The kind that bubbled up from the ground and flooded the bottom of Jacob's well.
With true tact, our patient Teacher tried to clear up the misunderstanding. "Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again"; He said, "but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14, NASB).
The woman at the well didn't need people, places, or things to find fulfillment. And she didn't need a bigger pitcher of water. She needed more of God. So, my friend, do we all.
But what about those of us who have already accepted God's gift of salvation and still don't feel all that satisfied? Why is it that believers often feel discontented and unfulfilled? Didn't Jesus tell the Samaritan woman that those who drink from His living water would never thirst again? That He would constantly be enough? So why are we still thirsty?
The problem is that we are not fully embracing all that God intended His gift to be. We've accepted the first part-His salvation-but we are not taking full advantage of and enjoying the second part-the indwelling of His Spirit. Jesus referred to this part as the "well of water springing up to eternal life" (John 4:14, NASB). Jesus promises to send His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. He offers not only to forgive and save, but also to dwell within us daily so we may experience life more abundantly until we get to our homes in heaven (see John 10:10).
To be continually satisfied deep down in our souls, we need to draw daily from this inner well. When we overlook His well within us, expecting temporary treats, quick fixes, and mere mortals to meet the deepest needs of our soul, we set ourselves up for disappointment.
Simply put, we need to experience more of God in our everyday lives.
But there is more. Do you know what is almost unbelievable? While we are in desperate need of Him, God is also thirsty for us! He is thirsty for us to keep coming to Him, thirsty to be wholeheartedly enjoyed.
How do we quench our thirst for God and His thirst for us? How do we draw daily from His well within us? How do we get more of God in our everyday lives?
Jesus assured the Samaritan woman that she wouldn't need to go to a temple to find God (John 4:21-24). Once He died on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, an amazing thing happened. His disciples Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us in Scripture that instantly the veil inside the temple was torn in two. This was the very same veil that God had instructed Moses to place in the tabernacle to separate the people from the Holy of Holies (the place where God resided). It was the Do Not Cross line, if you will, between the people and God.
Because of Jesus' death and the forgiveness it brings us, we can now go to God anytime. We no longer have to trek down a long road to a temple and wait our turn to meet with Him. Nor do we have to wait for the men in our lives to tell us what it's like to meet with God in the No Girls Allowed inner temple. Now that we are believers, Christ dwells within us, and He is with us everywhere we go.
To get more of God in our everyday lives, we can take full advantage of His accessibility by talking to Him throughout the day. We shouldn't relegate our prayers only to church services, morning devotions, and mealtimes. If a decision or need arises, we can pray about it instantly-sometimes with our eyes wide open.
When women approach me after I have spoken at a conference, I realize that they are depending on my counsel. But I'm smart enough to know that I'd better be depending on God's counsel. Oftentimes, He hears my cry for help while the person in front of me only sees me nodding my head while I seek to understand her needs.
As a matter of fact, I talk to God while I do lots of other things. While walking, I exercise both my physical and spiritual muscles, praying all along the path. While wrapping gifts at Christmas, I pray for the people whose presents I'm preparing. I pray while I travel, run errands, wait at stoplights, and watch funeral processions pass by me. I try to faithfully comply with the apostle Paul's command that we "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Listening to God can be difficult for a chatty gal like me. If I'm not careful, I can dominate all my "conversations" with God. He might even call them monologues-my monologues (sorry, God).
Aside from getting away from all distractions, investing quality time in contemplative prayer, pouring out my heart to God, and getting quiet long enough to hear His voice, the easiest way for me to hear God is to do what the woman at the well did-to listen to His words.
Check Your Messages
There was no mistaking who the Samaritan woman was chatting with when she heard Him proclaim, "I who speak to you am he" (John 4:26). He was revealing Himself to her as Messiah, allowing her to know Him more fully than He had done with any of His disciples!
Even though we may not hear God speak audibly today, He still wants to reveal Himself to us. And He still uses words. My relationship with my friend Eva has taught me that words don't have to be said out loud to communicate or lead to intimacy.
Eva and I became friends long before we ever met face-to-face or heard each other's regional accents. She lives in Florida and I live in Oklahoma, and we are both inspirational speakers represented by the same speakers' agency, CLASServices, Inc. We met through a weekly on-line chat session that CLASS sponsors to encourage and support speakers and writers in their ministries. Once Eva had my e-mail address, she was forever sending me messages. For me to get to know Eva and what she wanted to tell me, I only had to do one thing: check my messages!
To get to know God better, we have to do something similar; we have to regularly check the messages He has left for us.
Excerpted from Sharing His Secrets by Vickey Banks Copyright © 2001 by Vickey Banks. Excerpted by permission.
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