Samantha’s family emigrated to America from Mexico when she was only eight. Her mother fled from her abusive boyfriend, Samantha’s father, finding work in the small taqueria of a distant cousin. Samantha’s mother worked long hours, and the young girl was often left alone. As she grew older, she discovered a way to find the connection she desperately sought. All she had to do was offer her body to the boys. Sexting led to backseat encounters, which led to multiple partners in urban bedrooms. Shunned by the girls her age, Samantha found intimacy through sex alone. She could not have foreseen the dangerous addiction that would develop. As a young woman, she fought to break free of her sexual addiction.
Though she longed to be free, the connection between love and sex had been deeply engraved in her soul.
A Woman with Many Husbands
It’s possible that Samantha and the Samaritan woman of John 4 had similar addictions. Maybe the Samaritan woman had five husbands and lived with one who was not her husband because she too had sought to fill her craving for love through offering her body to men. Maybe the Samaritan woman went to the well at noon, the hottest time of the day, because at that hour, she would not encounter the shaming whispers of the town’s women.
When the strange Rabbi asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, she was surprised…First, why would a Jew ask for a drink from a Samaritan woman (Jews hated Samaritans). And second, why would a man, a Rabbi no less, speak to a woman, a woman like her?
And what was this strange, “living water,” he spoke of? He said whoever drank of it would never be thirsty again. Oh, she knew about thirst. She had thirsted for love, and time after time, man after man, her thirst had remained unquenched. “The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:15). Yes, she longed for this water, water that would moisten her mouth and rinse her dusty soul.
Ah, but there was a catch. This man knew about her husband who was not a husband. Oh, and he also knew about all her past husbands. Surely, he would not give her the water now. Best to change the subject: “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship” (John 4:20).
But this man wasn’t thrown. Instead of condemning her ignorance, he shared something that sounded like truth: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
Wait, was he talking about the Messiah? “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ)” (John 4:25). She never would have predicted the startling revelation he would make to her, a Samaritan woman: “I who speak to you am he” (John 4:26). The Messiah. This man who knew everything she had ever done. It just might be.
A Woman Transformed
Addicts don’t always change in a moment, but once in a while they do. The Samaritan woman, once addicted to men, or possibly to shame, or certainly to sin, drops her water jar, turns and runs…runs back to the people she had earlier avoided, gesturing, shouting, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29). She is changed in a moment, into a woman who worships in spirit and in truth. She no longer shrinks in shame but shouts in praise. What freed her?
It could only be the incomprehensible love of Christ. The Samaritan woman encountered the only man who could satisfy her thirst for the love she desperately craved but didn’t know she needed. This man loved her. He didn’t shame her. He did name her sin. But even as he did, he invited her to drink of his living water, the water of eternal life, the water that would fill her thirst forever. He honored her as no man ever had, engaging her in theological discussion, revealing his true identity as the Messiah. He knew her, he understood her, and he loved her.
Samantha also met this man, the Christ, the Messiah, her Savior. Invited by a friend, she attended a church retreat where she heard the story of the Samaritan woman. She also fell in love with the man Jesus who loved her so much he died for her sins. Over time, with much good counsel, she began to break free from her addiction to sex. Each new day, as she drew on the living water of Christ’s unceasing love and undeserved favor, she discovered that she was not only full, but overflowing with love. Now she speaks to women addicted to sex and invites them to know the man who loved the Samaritan woman.
What a story. What a love. What a Savior.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Turnage is a writer, story coach, and teacher. She founded Living Story to help people learn, live, and love the gospel. She is the author of The Waiting Room: 60 Meditations for Finding Peace & Hope in a Health Crisis and the Living Story Bible Study Series (P & R), Elizabeth offers gospel-centered resources at her blog, www.elizabethturnage.com.
Elizabeth has been married to orthopedic surgeon Kip Turnage for 36 years. They enjoy spending time with their children, Kirby and Amy Anne Turnage, Jackie and Matt Roelofs, Mary Elizabeth and Caleb Blake, and Robert Turnage. When they are not working or visiting their kids, they enjoy doting on their golden doodle, Rosie, the “best-dog-ever”!