A few years ago, I was speaking at a women’s conference and a priest preached about the story of the Samaritan woman. Perhaps you have heard this story many times before, or maybe you’re not very familiar with it. Either way, I encourage you open your Bible now to John 4:1–42, and take the time to read this passage slowly.

The priest talked about the three-pronged approach all of us need to take when it comes to our relationship with God. I like to refer to this approach as the “three M’s of faith”: Meeting, Mercy, and Mission.



When we encounter or meet God, if we are truly open as the Samaritan woman was, Jesus shows us how much he loves us by showing us mercy. It’s not about condemnation. It’s about love and reconciliation. Once we receive that love and mercy, we are grateful for the opportunity to begin again, and we set out on a new mission of faith.

The Samaritan woman was an outcast because she was living with a man who was not her husband. She also had had five husbands in her past. In order to avoid the snubs and glares from the townspeople, she would go to the well to fetch water at about noon. In that part of the world, noon is the hottest part of the day, and most people do not go outside at that time, if they can avoid it. This meant that she would, for the most part, be alone. She could get her water and head back home, hopefully without being noticed. Except this time, when she arrived at the well, someone was waiting for her. And that someone just happened to be God himself.

Her meeting, or initial encounter, with Christ, was the beginning of a new life for this woman. Jesus told her about her own life and how she was selling herself short. He didn’t condemn her. Instead, he showed her how her daily trips to the well weren’t ever going to satisfy her. She would be forever going back to that same well without her thirst being quenched. “Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again,” he told her.

Yet he doesn’t leave it there — he has something better to offer: “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:13–15).

Isn’t that sense of being constantly thirsty for something, even if we don’t know what it is, a feeling we all know too well? How many times have we accomplished a goal or obtained something that we thought would definitely make a major difference in our level of happiness, only to feel empty or parched a short time later? Then we start searching for something else, and the cycle begins all over again. Maybe we feel ashamed because of the things we did to get what we thought we wanted.

I can relate, believe me. For years, I bought into the lie that the way to true happiness was self-fulfillment. No matter how well I did in my work, or how many awards I won, there was always something missing and I felt empty.

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