My friend, Alice, whom you met in another post, and I were meandering through the town where my former church sits yesterday.  It was the height of their yearly spring festival and the streets were packed with people.  Surprisingly, I had only seen one person from the church over a period of several hours until we got to the corner of the square.

The woman we met – I’ll call her Sharon – averted her eyes and I thought, “Oh, boy. She’s been warned to stay away from me.”  I’m convinced that people have been told to keep their distance since no one except Alice has made any attempt to stay in touch with me.  When I attended a small, local conference a few weeks ago, the people who were there from my former church – a couple whom I had considered friends and several others who were acquaintances – also averted their eyes and would not return my smiles or waves.  Now, here stood Sharon, turning her head away and barely responding to our greeting or our comments.

After a couple of minutes, though, she warmed up to us and even after her family (her grown children and small grandchild) caught up with her, they continued on down the street and Sharon continued to chat with us for several minutes.  It was good to enjoy a few minutes with her.

Later, when Alice and I left the festival, she commented that Sharon was no longer participating in a ministry in the church in which she had a very prominent position.  “I didn’t know that,” I said.

“Oh, yeah,” Alice responded. “She had to quit because she and her husband separated.  When that happened she had to stop.”

Now, I didn’t press Alice for details.  I have no idea the whys and wherefores of Sharon’s situation.  But what I realized was that Sharon hadn’t been averting her gaze because she was supposed to shun me.  She was averting her gaze because she expected us to shun her!  And it was only after we treated her with acceptance and showed joy in seeing her that she was able to relax and enjoy our company for a few minutes.

So, I’m gazing at my picture of Jesus that sits on the shelf above my computer and I’m hearing him say, “Sharon, I am here to offer you living water.”  And I am realizing that yesterday, Alice and I were that living water – the Jesus in us offered Sharon his living water and she accepted it gratefully, drank deeply, and walked away with life more abundant.

Oh, Lord God, please continue to put people in my path who so need to have a drink of you.  Out of my mouth, please bring streams of living water.

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