The title of our current sermon series is Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. It is, for many, about looking for love in all the wrong places, and how we don’t really have to look in all those places because God is looking for us. I struggled a little to figure out how this related to me. Then I remembered when I learned this truth for myself.
I was in college. I went there believing I was called to be a pastor, and I was, by any measure, a good girl. I had great grades, good friends, and I was never in trouble. That was the trouble. Everything about me was so good. I wasn’t even looking for what I was looking for. I thought I already had earned it.
Today, as I reread John’s gospel passage about Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:3-29), I laughed out loud. Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give him a drink, and she asked how he, a Jewish man, could ask her for a drink. The passage goes on:
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
— John 4:10-11
You might not find that particularly funny. I laughed, though, because I so related to her. Jesus was offering her something she desperately needed — living water, real life, forgiveness and love. Her response to him demonstrated that she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. It’s like they were conversing in two different languages. They kind of were.
The Samaritan woman was speaking the language of the world — of physical need and our own activities aimed at getting what we need. Jesus was speaking the language of the Father — the language of grace, unmerited favor, the language of real life. It's what he offered her then, and it's what he offers us now.
My real abundant life started the day that my mentor asked me if I knew why I was valuable. As I listed off my accomplishments, he gently smiled and said, “No, it’s just because you are.” I wasn’t looking for God, for his love, for his grace, because I thought I had already earned them. (And I never ceased frantically trying to keep them; it was exhausting.)
That day, I realized that God had sought me, just as I was, scared and feeling I’d be inadequate without my accomplishments. He sought me. I didn’t need to keep trying to convince him that I deserved his love. I didn’t deserve it. That’s the whole point. He loves because he is love. Period.
If you are trying to be good enough for God, stop working so hard. He loves you just because you are. Because he made you. He is seeking you as you are, and wants to give you love and rest and life.