“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” John 4:17-18
Which are my favorite books of the Bible? The short ones. What, you were expecting some deep theological answer? Nope. With my busy schedule I treasure brevity and the slim Bible books are just my speed. Minor prophets? Hooray for wisdom in a nutshell. The epistles? Halleluiah for practical love lessons.
But ‘short’ on words can mean ‘long’ on wisdom.
One of my favorite short books is the Story of Esther. Set during the Babylonian exile, when the Jews lived under the thumb of the foreign rulers, the story tells of a young Jewish woman who was chosen for her beauty to be the wife of the powerful Persian king Xeres.
But before you start playing Disney music in the background, understand that King Xeres is historically known as a conceited playboy with a merciless army at his beck and call. Esther was technically his queen, but he had a zillion concubines and slaves. Oh, and one more thing. He put out an order to kill all the Jews.
No one knew that Esther was Hebrew. Even before the kill order, Jews were considered low class. Esther’s family knew she’d never be picked as queen if her heritage were known. So Esther lived in a foreign court, cut off from her friends and relatives, keeping a secret that could get her tortured and killed at any moment. She lived this way for many years.
And this got me thinking. How many of us, I wonder, have spent years living with a secret that we cannot tell to anyone? Not to our spouses. Not to our friends. Certainly not to our church. And maybe not even to God.
Fast forward a few hundred years, to a desert where an unnamed Samaritan woman is drawing water from Jacob’s well (okay, John’s Gospel is technically a long book but the story in Chapter Four is short). This woman has made hugely bad sexual decisions, including several ‘husbands’ and a current live-in boyfriend. These mistakes have warped her life, but she certainly can’t reveal it to anyone for fear of condemnation. She has lived this way for many years.
When Jesus sits down and talks to her, it’s obvious that she plans to keep her secrets from Him as well. But she doesn’t have to, because He reveals every one of her buried secrets. She didn’t have to tell Him because He already knew. And that’s the thing. God already knows the most buried of our buried secrets. And he never condemns us for them. Not even a little.
Unlike Xeres, God will never put out a ‘kill order’ on you. He knows your secrets and loves you as you are. And if you need a human ear to listen without condemnation, please call one of our trained prayer ministers at the Glennon House. Do not spend another moment letting a secret weigh down your soul.