Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
I turned on the faucet and noticed that the water was a dark color. I didn’t think too much about it, until I turned on the faucet on the outside of the house. The water ran brown! We contacted the neighbors, with whom we share a well, and asked them to check their water. We discovered that our well was going dry. It was beginning to pump sand. We had to have a well driller come in and sink a new well for us.
There are times in our lives when our well runs dry and we begin to pump sand. That was the case with the Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well. Jesus had sent His disciples into town to get food, while He rested at the well. It was noon. While He was resting, a woman from the town came to draw water.
It is important to note that it would have been unusual for a woman to draw water at noon. The women would come in the morning and in the evening when it was cooler. It would have been a social time, as well as a functional necessity. This woman was intentionally avoiding the other woman, by coming during the heat of the day.
Jesus struck up a conversation with this woman, and soon revealed that she had sunk a number of wells in her life; all of them going dry. With the reality of her dry wells exposed, Jesus offered her water that would truly satisfy her soul. He invited her to sink a well in the one relationship that could sustain her and satisfy her deepest needs.
Most of us don’t identify with the woman at the well. We view this story from a distance. We tend to apply it to those people out there who have not come to faith in Christ. I want to suggest to you that, even as followers of Christ, we can dig dry wells. Here are a few common wells that we dig.
We can sink our well in the popular culture of the day. It is so easy for us to do this, because we are enticed to buy in every day. We can buy into being relevant and cutting edge, with the hope that it will make us effective in ministry. But because popular culture is so fluid, we soon become spiritual chameleons. We find ourselves always just one step behind the latest trends. One day we wake up in flip-flops and ripped jeans, only to find that everyone else is wearing Armani suits. The deeper we sink our well in popular culture, the more we pump sand.
We can sink our well in all of the latest technology. Technology is a great tool, but a brutal task master. Just like popular culture, technology changes at a rapid pace. Often, by the time we have secured all of the latest technology, it is out of date. We are constantly being told that there is a newer and better version that we have to have. Social media can begin to dominate our lives and drain us of energy. The deeper we sink our well into technology, the more sand we pump.
We can sink our well into the approval of others. We are all susceptible to this, to one extent or another. Ministry is all about building relationships, but it is easy to make the approval of others more important than the goal of serving Christ. Seeking to meet everyone’s expectations, so that they will like us, is another dry well that pumps sand.
Even pursuing theology can become a dry well. When I was in seminary, our President warned us that the greatest danger we would face in seminary was that we would become theologians and lose our faith. Good theology is essential to our faith, but when it becomes our primary focus, it dries up. Intense study can morph into a passion to be right and to prove how smart we are. We find ourselves fighting marginal battles, over obscure points of theology, for the right to be king of the theological hill. We are soon sucking sand.
Ministry itself can become a dry well for us. We can create programs and systems to advance the work of the Gospel. These are not bad, but when they become primary, they begin to drain us dry. We can put more and more effort into maintaining “our” ministry. We give all of our energy to keep the ministry afloat, which requires us to sink our well deeper and deeper. Soon, we are sucking sand, again.
After we have sunk a number of dry wells, we find ourselves sitting next to the Samaritan woman, longing for water that will sustain. It is there that Jesus will meet us. There is only one source of living water, and that is Jesus. If we are not sinking our well deeply into our relationship with Him, we will run dry. The means of drawing water from Jesus’ well are not unknown to us, but they are often neglected. There are four basic tools we need to sink our well deep in Christ.
The first is regular, personal study of God’s Word. We don’t study the Bible to gain theological knowledge or to learn interesting Bible facts. We study the Bible to grow closer to Christ. We study, not to speak to others, but to allow Jesus to speak to us. As Colossians 3:16 says, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
The second tool is prayer; both individual and corporate. Prayer is one of the ways that God shapes and molds our hearts. In prayer He makes us aware of the things He wants us to focus upon. In prayer, we learn to depend upon Him and trust Him. Through prayer, God wants to reveal His majesty and glory to us. Prayer is not an Amazon wish list, but a dynamic dialog with God.
The third tool is fellowship. God did not design the Christian life to be a solo journey. Colossians 3:16 goes on the say, as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. Hebrews 10:25 resonates with Paul’s words. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. We can encourage one another through corporate worship, but we also need to interact one-on-one and in small groups throughout the week. We are most vulnerable when we are alone. We are strongest when we stand together.
The fourth tool is service. Jesus made it clear that if we want to tap into His living water, we need to sink our well into service. Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45
Overall, the key to sinking our well in the right place is humility. Our wells go dry because our focus is on us and not Christ. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6