Summary: From lostness to spiritual awakening on a leap of faith.
September 15, 2002
The depression took the fun out of 1932. It was no time to go into business. But Ted and Dorothy Husted bought the little drug store in their town. Grasshoppers had eaten all the crops in the region. This, in turn was followed by a dust bowl, a long drought, temperatures for ten days at a time of over 100 degrees. So the drugstore seemed about to fold.
Ted and Dorothy asked themselves: How can we get people into the drugstore?" They decided on the billboard marketing strategy...so, they went 25 miles in each direction and put up signs that read,
FREE ICE WATER AT THE WALL DRUG STORE, Wall, S.D.
They put up signs at 10 miles; and at 5 miles the sign read:
HOLD ON! IT’S ONLY 5 MILES TO THE WALL DRUG STORE AND FREE ICE WATER.
Now there are signs all over the country telling you just how far it is to free ice water at the Wall, S.D. drugstore. Today more than 15,000 people crowd the drugstore on a busy day in a town of 800 people. It remains the most spectacularly, successful drugstore in the entire industry. Druggists had been handing out free ice water for generations. But Ted & Dorothy were the first people who ever thought of advertising it.
Actually, somebody else came up with an advertisement for free water -- living water! The first 19 verses of John 4 describe the encounter of Jesus with the woman of Samaria, at a well dug in ancient times by Jacob. Jacob was even buried nearby.
The Samaritans and Jews had a centuries-old feud that centered on religious judgment. 700 years before Jesus, Jewish Samaria had been conquered by the Assyrians. Most of the people had been carried off in captivity. Those who remained in the land committed (in the opinion of the Jews) the unforgivable act of inter-marrying with the foreigners who moved in. This made the Samaritan descendants half-breed Jews -- totally unacceptable to the racially pure Jews of Galilee.
It was this half-breed race that Jesus encountered at the well. They met from two different worlds -- They shared a moment of conversation. It led to a drink of living water for the woman and a lesson for us about how to minister to people in need in 2002.
Notice the transition of this woman at the well, as her spiritual condition goes from death to life, because Jesus met her need...
WHEN JESUS MET HER -- DARKNESS
THE LOSTNESS OF SEPARATION FROM GOD
When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? John 4.1-12
If there is a phrase to describe our age, it is spiritual darkness. How odd, in an age of The Dawning of Aquarius, supposedly the spiritually enlightened time of harmony and understanding, that there is so little of either. Spiritual darkness covers our land.
A little boy from a poverty-stricken home once heard his Sunday School teacher say Jesus was the light of the world. He took her remark quite literally. After class, the boy said to his teacher, If Jesus really is the light of the world, I wish He’d come hang out in my alley. It’s awful dark where I live.
To live in spiritual darkness is to be alienated from God. This Samaritan woman was blinded from being able to see that she was in darkness. That has been my experience when talking to lost people -- rich, poor, old, young, and all colors -- When people are away from God, they are in such darkness they don’t even suspect how far away from Him they are!