I am he, the one who is speaking to you

Today’s gospel is the reason why I named this blog “sitting at the well”. When I was thinking about how I would share my thoughts and writings, I had a vision of sitting at the well with Jesus, just like the Samaritan women did. 

I often think about that moment that they met. I think of all the different emotions that were felt as they spoke. I believe that not only was the woman transformed by their meeting but Jesus also took away learnings about human ways and feelings. There is such a powerful emotional connection to our Lord, he burns with love inside of us because he knows exactly how that feels. He knows the agony of when we are lost and on our knees, and he feels the joy and love that we feel through community and friendship. 

I keep thinking about my meeting with Jesus at the well. He would tell me about my life and I would squirm uncomfortably, but then we would talk in the sunshine. The water would shimmer in the well, the birds would sing from their branches. I think about him taking my hand and twirling me around in dance, I love thinking about him as the “Lord of the dance” how he would share our joy through music and movement. There’s a intimacy about dancing, you have to move together, you have to work together to keep up the flow and movement. This is why I love the idea of dancing with our Lord, because we have to move with his leadership but he also likes to see what we can do with his guidance too. 

Dancing around the well bends the gospel story a bit, but it’s the encounter that changes us, even if we sat there too scared to talk and nothing comes out of mouths, Jesus waits patiently for us waiting to offer him a drink, inviting him into our lives, breaking down the barriers and boundaries around us so we can sit and eat with him in his kingdom one day. 

Of whom I am the worst

I’ve been frozen for a while. Actually since I received my date for BAP I seemed to clam up and be rigid with fear. I would look at the envelope that contained all the information I need about the assessment and tell myself that I would read it another time, I’d look at it another day. In reality I was so worried about it all, I’d stopped listening. I was making my own scenarios in my head, I was bogged down by the jargon and the box ticking. What was I doing it all for? Why on Earth is God bothering to waste his time on me? I am so flawed and sinful, how can I even think of serving God’s people? 

I thought of St Paul who says,

 ” Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:15-16

I’d become frozen in my sin and unworthiness. 

I’d forgotten that my sins, although grievous to me, are a testimony to God’s saving hand, that all my experiences are used by God in his mission. If God can forgive and save me, then I am a testimony to that hope he brings us all. Perhaps I need to restock.

I was hungry for some time with God. 

Last Saturday I attended evensong at the cathedral, where my daughter sang with the choristers. This was a well needed spiritual feed. Spending time surrounded by the beauty of the liturgy, the glorious sound of the singing, and the buzz of God’s word speaking to me, hit a reset button in my heart which melted my frozen self. On Sunday I gave the talk for the afternoon congregation and enjoyed spreading the good news of Jesus, on Monday I led our Lent group which I was particularly nervous about which went well, on Tuesday I did the talk for morning prayer and today I had a meeting with my fellow chaplains at the hospital. 

Oh how much I love doing these things in the name of Jesus! This is why I’m going for assessment, because this is my life, this is who I am, my life is not complete without serving and bringing people to sit with our God at his table. 

I managed all these things because I opened up my heart and my insecurities and let God take them. I prayed to God to help me because I cannot do any of this without him. I cannot do this without his hand in this. 

When I jump into the water he is there offering his hand out to me to walk with him on the sparkling surface.

Yes I am a sinner, of whom I am the worst, but I’ll show you how Jesus can save you, like he has saved me.

Hide me in the shadow of your wings

Last week for Ash Wednesday I walked to church in the dark. Now it’s not normally something I’d do, but I couldn’t use the car because the amount of petrol in it had to last until the end of the week. I wasn’t amazingly happy about this because I hardly drive the car, in fact I drive it once a week on a Sunday morning. For the rest of the week I walk everywhere and get the train to university. Anyway, I left the house in a huff. I had 25 mins to get from one side of Ashton to the other.

Usually I would walk with my headphones in but at night I thought this would not be that wise or safe. So I walked through the eerie quiet of the town centre. It seemed very dark in places and very still. I began to feel a little uneasy. Does church really mean that much to me that I am happy to walk there in the dark, alone? 

As I walked through the light provided by the streetlights, I noticed I had two shadows on the floor. This was probably because of the angles of the different light sources, my GCSE A in science was coming in very useful! However as I left the town the lights became less frequent and it became quite dark. I looked at the floor and I still had two shadows. I started praying in my mind over and over again, Lord please keep me safe.

It became darker still towards the entrance to the park where the church is, but I still had two shadows. I quickly looked over my shoulder but there was no one there. As I reached the church I had an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and relief. I knew Jesus had been walking with me by my side.

I realised that no matter how difficult or scary this journey is, in following Jesus’s call on my life he is there every step of the way. When I’m feeling scared or anxious about leading he is stood there with me holding me up. When I’m on my knees with my face covered he’s there ready to help me up.

This journey to BAP is flexing my already broken bits of me, the cracks that have been filled have started to open again. My brokenness on display, my neediness to rely on the Lord visible to all. If Christ can be seen in me, it will be through my cracks, my ability to keep going with his strength, to keep serving those who I irritate with a smile on my face, to extend a listening ear to those who are also broken too, to spread his good news to those who have none.

No matter what happens, what outcome BAP might bring, I will always have two shadows, and one is from the man who saved me.

Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand

My favourite TV programme at the moment is The Great Pottery Throw Down on BBC2. It’s basically the Great British Bake Off, but with clay. I love watching the clay turn into such amazing and imaginative pots. The people competing have made giant clocks, flower pots, vases, sake sets, so many great things that have been transformed from the lump of dull clay on their wheels.

There are many different stages to make a pot (that I’ve observed) there are long gaps between each stage. Every time I watch the show I am drawn into the creative process, the slight extra pressure in one hand can completely change the shape and formation of the final product. 

I can’t watch the show without thinking about this passage in Jeremiah 18:1-6,

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Come, go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.  Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the Lord. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
I think about us being delicately moulded in God’s hands. I wonder how we twirl around the wheel, do we dance together? I imagine us hand in hand as the wheel turns, times where he sits back and admires his work in us, smiling with joy. But I imagine there are times where we wrestle with him and he wrestles with us. There are times where we try to be the potter and start to take over the wheel and mould ourselves with our own agendas. Moulding ourselves starves us from the intimate dance we have with God, there is no interaction, we twist wildly on the wheel until our fragile form comes undone and we are once again a lump of raw clay.

But clay is very versatile and can be reworked, so our patient Heavenly Father pops us back on the wheel and waits for us to become recentred again. Slowly we begin to dance, changing, whirling, transformed by his love. This process is a lifelong dance, I don’t think we will ever be the finished pot until we are raised at the end. 

I’m spending this lent making sure I’m as centred on the wheel as possible through prayer and making space for quiet times. According to the judges on the The Great Pottery Throw Down, having well centred clay allows the potter to create lots of different forms. 

I want to dance around that wheel with God, to mould and transform me every day that I walk this journey with him. I have faith in him to stop the wheel when I’m trying to take over. I have faith in him that he will listen to me too when we wrestle as we spin.

Our God is faithful and he delights in us. We need to remember that if we try to be the potter, we miss out on that intimate dance with God, but if we come back and stay centred on his wheel, our faithful God turns us, reworks us, and the opportunities for transformation are endless.