Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Abandoning Jars

As our eyes met, I dropped the luggage weighing me down, and ran into open arms, leaving behind all my personal possessions. Suddenly worldly goods lost their value. They meant nothing compared to the love and acceptance of a friend.

In John Chapter 4, we read of a Samaritan woman who encounters the Savior at Jacob's well. Their eyes meet for the first time, and verse 28 says, “Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town...” In essence, she dropped her 'suitcase' and ran into arms of love.

She had come to the well with a jar and a plan, she left with a joy and a purpose. A thirst was quenched and a jug was forgotten. No hesitation. No clinging to the object. What motivated such complete abandon? An encounter with Christ.

Letting go of our 'jars' isn't always easy. Yet we don't see the Samaritan woman weighing the odds or debating a decision. Unlike the rich young ruler who struggled with letting go of his wealth, this woman didn't even have to think twice.

We all come to Christ with jars. They come in various shapes and sizes. We fill them with people, possessions, property and plans. We hold on to them with a death grip. They give us purpose. We often allow them to define us. Our 'jars' are who we are. Yet, when the Samaritan woman met Christ, her jar was left behind.

We can't embrace Christ fully if our hands are full.

The Samaritan woman's jar was her familiar and her comfort, but it represented her pain and her past. She had to let it go. Her past was not her future. We too must learn to let go. Clinging only paralyzes us. When we cling too long our hearts become diseased by the deterioration of the things we refuse to surrender. Our unwillingness to release things keeps us in bondage, unable to move on, and get on with our lives.

Today God desires to meet you at the well of His grace and love. He is concerned about you and the 'jars' you carry. “Jars” of bitterness, jealousy, grief, guilt, envy, pride, unforgiveness, fear, and insecurity. "We curse ourselves by hanging on to the past and bring disease to our own spirits by refusing to let go of old, unhealthy habits."

Our 'jars' could also represent a relationship or a dream. The Lord does give us dear friends and He also places desires in our hearts. "He delights in doing so, but never with the intention that they should become the center of our existence, our oxygen or our lifeblood. We need to release the jars that keep us rooted to the spot where we now stand. Don't cling too tightly. God will not be relegated to second place in our lives."

The framework and foundation of our identity can be shattered if we build our entire world around our 'jar', whether it be a person, thing or dream. The line between the love of our 'jar' and idolatry is a thin one. If you can't bear the thought of leaving your 'jar' behind and living without it, it has become too dear.

The woman left her jar at the feet of Jesus. She came to the end of herself and let go. When we finally do this, He surprises us with things better than our eyes have ever seen, our ears have ever heard or our hearts have ever imagined. He knows what we want and need better than we do. When we least expect it, He comes bearing an unbelievable new 'jar' filled with all our heartfelt desires and dreams come true.

After the woman left her 'jar', she went back to the town. Today we will live, work, and travel in our 'towns'. We need to discard what we do not need for the journey ahead. Ask yourself, what do I need to leave behind to move forward with Jesus today?

Philippians 3:8 says, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

We have to say goodbye in order to embrace a new hello. It take faith to say goodbye..and faith to say hello.

In her Bible study “No Other Gods”, Kelly Minter writes, “The real travesty is going through all the pain of a goodbye but never enjoying the fulfillment of a new hello." Every follower of Christ will have to take that walk to the well - it is the bridge between the old and the new. A 'jar' will have to be placed at the feet of Jesus, and that takes faith. "There is a finality that must be faced. Yet there are some surrenders that are purely necessary for life to blossom. Certain things - and I won't name them, because you already know them in your soul - choke us, wound us, and bind us in ways that keep us from moving forward. They deserve a farewell. Still we cling because the painful familiar is often more comfortable than the foreign amazing."

I believe God is watching us release 'jars' today that we have been clutching to our hearts and He is cheering saying, 'Now I can do amazing things. I'm ready to take you to the other side.' The question often is, will we let go and follow?

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