“Sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty
or have to come here to draw water.”
John 4:15 ESV
A couple years back, I pinpointed the most critical difference between my kid-wrangling strategies and my husband’s kid-wrangling strategies. The most critical difference is how we approach a [NON life-threatening] repeat offense.
- Him: Make it stop FOR NOW. The behavior/choice/challenge is getting in the way of this moment’s focus. Get kid to re-focus temporarily and allow the behavior/choice/challenge to reappear in a more appropriate context later. Exa: Little Jimmy is trying to throw a bouncy ball during dinner. Husband tells Little Jimmy to pocket the ball until after dinner.
- Me: Make it stop FOR EVER. The behavior/choice/challenge is tied to a misunderstanding about the greater purpose for the activity. Remove behavior/choice/challenge and educate kid on why their action doesn’t work in this particular context. Offer behavior/choice/challenge back when kid understands proper context for use. Exa: Little Jimmy is trying to throw a bouncy ball during dinner. I take ball and tell Little Jimmy “CAN’T WE JUST HAVE A FEW STINKING MINUTES A DAY WITHOUT BALLS BEING INVOLVED?!?!!! SERIOUSLY. WHERE DO ALL THESE BALLS KEEP COMING FROM?!?!!! I’M COLLECTING AND BURNING ALL THE BALLS.”
Clearly my solution is better.
But seriously. When I see a problem in my life, my immediate reaction is to identify the core cause, understand it, and then eradicate it. I don’t want it clogging up my line of sight. I don’t want to be tempted by it. I want it OUT. One down, 9,999,999+++ to go.
Last week, when I read the famous account of the woman at the well (John 4:1-26), I didn’t make the personal connection right away. Then God showed me she and I are actually very much alike. She was hanging out at the well, getting her regular daily supply of water, when Jesus came along and told her about a different water source.
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Check out what my Bible study notes say about those 20 little words:
“The woman mistakenly believed that if she received the water Jesus offered, she would not have to return to the well each day. She was interested in Jesus’ message because she thought it could make her life easier. But if that were always the case, people would accept Christ’s message for the wrong reasons. Christ did not come to take away challenges, but to change us on the inside and to empower us to deal with problems from God’s perspective.”
Whoa. She wanted the water chore GONE. She wanted to make her life easier. One down, 9,999,999+++ to go. But, who doesn’t want easier/simpler/cleaner?! That’s not a problem in and of itself. The thing is that challenges and pain and problems, when handled together with God’s grace and truth, transform into situations that draws us near to him.
If I could just stop crying “Make it stop! Make it stop! Burn all the balls!” long enough to pray and thank God for being with me in the trial, I might actually accomplish something greater than stress abolition. I might get to know God better. When I get to know God in my day-to-day life, the problems don’t disappear, but they also don’t consume or define me anymore. HE does.
Dear Lord, thank you for showing me what I’m thirsty for. Thank you for letting me see clearly that I thirst for peace and that what I’m doing will only make me more dehydrated. Help me look to you when I’m troubleshooting, thirsty, sad, or stressed AND when I am calm. Give me the strength and courage to smile even while “it” won’t stop. Amen.