Ever since I read the story of the woman at the well this week, I’ve been singing the refrain of that old song from 1980, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places.” Do you remember that one (you can stop reading right here if you were born after 1990)? It’s a country song – the hit single from the movie Urban Cowboy with John Travolta and Debra Winger.
I was looking for love in all the wrong places. Looking for love in too many faces. Searching your eyes, looking for traces. Of what… I’m dreaming of…
Are you singing it yet? Got the tune rolling around in your head? I’m sorry.
Think about it though. This song is about the woman at the well, the woman with five husbands. Hasn’t she been looking for love in all the wrong places? Hasn’t she been looking for love in too many faces? And isn’t this exactly what Jesus tries to tell her when he speaks about the living water?
“Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again,” Jesus explains. “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.” (John 4:13)
Jesus knows all about the woman at the well. He knows she’s had five husbands (her latest a lover, not a spouse) – and he knows she’s been searching for sustenance and fulfillment in all the wrong places and faces. She’s been looking for life everywhere else but the only true place she’ll find it: in Jesus.
That’s why she continues to thirst, Jesus says – because she’s drinking from the wrong source. She’s got the wrong well.
I get it, I do. I may not look to men for fulfillment, but I look elsewhere, just like the woman at the well. My well plunges deep into the desire for recognition, achievement and success.
I often look to the outside world to tell me I matter, and when I do, I come up thirsty and empty every single time.
Sometimes I wonder what happened to the woman at the well after she ran back to the village to proclaim the Messiah’s arrival. Was she cured from that moment on? Did she stop looking for love in all the wrong places? Did she abandon her pursuit of worldly love and fulfillment to drink fully and deeply from the living water?
Somehow I suspect she was a lot like you and me. I suspect, like you and me, she strayed and resorted to her old behaviors from time to time. But I also know that if she did wander, God patiently and faithfully led her back to the living water again and again, just as he does for you and me.
Questions for Reflection:
What well are you drinking from – where are you looking for fulfillment and sustenance? To material pursuits? To a relationship? To status and achievement? To an addictive behavior?
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