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The Woman At the Well: Mayla's Story

Woman at the well     How many times had she walked to the well carrying this heavy burden, not the daily burden of fetching water, but the burden of thoughts about her life that had lost purpose?  Mayla’s dreams of a life like all young girls, of a home, husband and children, had long ago eluded her.  Now she had become a wanton woman, shunned by those she had once hoped to become.

     Even this day, the man she was living with had taken his hand to her and called her names that burned within her.  She was past humiliation.  She pretended it had not hurt, but her spirit was wounded to the point where she had come to the end of herself.  What was she to do?  Where could she go?  To whom could she turn?  She had sold her body for so long she knew no other way.  She was beyond weary; her whole being felt empty.

     As Mayla neared the well, the women there scurried away as they wanted nothing to do with her.  Her heart was heavy, but she tossed her head as though it mattered not that they shunned her.   How she needed a kind word to be spoken to her.  She wanted to weep, but knew she dare not.  They would only mock her, and possibly spit on her.  She could not take the ridicule in her present state of mind.  All she wanted was for someone to care enough to hold her and speak a few kind words to her.

     When she got to the well, she found a man sitting there whom she had not seen before.  Had it been another time, Mayla would have flaunted herself before Him.  However, today her thoughts were bitter, and she began to feel a shame she had never felt before.  The way she lived had been bothering her for some time.  She hungered to change, but didn’t know how.

     Mayla looked at the man and saw something in his eyes that caused her to know he was different than any she had ever known.  There was a true love and compassion that flowed from him that overwhelmed her.  As she let her jug down to draw water for herself, he spoke to her.  “Will you give me a drink,” he asked?  She was stunned, for she knew Him to be a Jew, whereas she was a Samaritan.  Everyone knew that the Jews would not speak or associate with Samaritans.

      ”How can you ask me for a drink?” Mayla asked. 

     He replied, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.  Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

     Mayla thought to herself that if she drank the water he offered, she would not need to return to the well again.  She knew what he offered was impossible, but what a pleasant thought that was.  Her curiosity got the best of her, she could not keep herself from asking, “Where can I find this water you speak of?” 

     Much to Mayla’s surprise he asked her to go get her husband. For the first time in such a long time she actually felt embarrassed, but she tried to hide it as she indigently replied, “I have no husband.”  His answer shocked her.  “All too true,” he said, “For you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you are living with now.”

     Suddenly Mayla realized, “This man must be a prophet, a holy man,” and this caused her to feel even dirtier and more ashamed.  She would love to run away, but she was drawn to him and could not seem to leave his presence.  However, because of the shame she felt, Mayla tried to change the subject.  She began to ask questions about where is the proper place to worship.  The man told her that it doesn’t really matter, “For a time is coming, and has come, when the true worshiper will worship the Father in spirit and truth.  These are the worshipers the Father is looking for,” he said.

     “I know the Messiah is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

     Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”  With these words, her understanding was opened and she realized this man was indeed the Messiah.  In utter humility, she fell to her knees and cried out in shame, expressing her desire to change. 

     Jesus saw the sincerity of the woman’s heart for repentance.  He extended His hand to her and said “Arise, for your sins have been forgiven.”  She lifted her eyes and looked into his.  What she saw was unconditional love.  She rose and kissed his outstretched hands and bowed before Him.

     Immediately, Mayla left, running back to town a changed woman; a woman who no longer felt the shame she had just the previous hour.  She stopped everyone in her path and told them about this man, Jesus, who told her everything about herself.

     Many jeered, and spoke unkind things to her, but she could not be angry.  All Mayla could do was say, “You are right in what you say, but he, the Messiah, has forgiven me.  I am changed; I am not the same.  Go, see for yourself.”  With that she came to her own home.  Approaching the man whom she had been living with, “Come Josiah, you must see the man I met at the well,” she cried.

     “You want me to meet another one of your prizes?”  He growled. 

     “No! No!” she cries again.  “It is the Messiah.  He has come!  He is here.  Come see for yourself.”

     The man, bleary eyed with too much wine, stopped to take another look at Mayla.  What he saw was not the same woman who left him just an hour ago.  This woman has a sense of peace about her; a beauty he had never seen in her before.  “Could this be true?”  He asked himself.  “I must go see for myself.”

     As Josiah left the house, he saw the entire village making their way to the well.   He staggered along in a drunken stupor.  His entire being was in utter rebellion. “There he is,” thought Josiah, “This man that Mayla told me about.”  He wondered what is so special about him that would change this wanton woman he had been living with. 

     When he arrived, the villagers were listening with rapt attention, many were weeping, some have fallen on their knees before the man sitting at the well.  Josiah growled, lifting his fist ready to strike Jesus, but at that moment, Jesus turned toward Josiah and their eyes met.  Josiah froze; immediately his heart melted within him and he fell on his knees weeping.  Jesus laid his hand upon Josiah’s head and said, “Your sins are forgiven you.”

     The change in both Mayla and Josiah was complete.  They could not contain the joy that flooded their souls.  They parted as lovers and joined those whose lives had been changed that day in bringing the message of truth to the villages beyond their own.  Many who knew these two before saw how their lives had changed.  Because of the good they did daily to help the poor and needy, others came to believe also.

     Mayla and Josiah were among those that stood at the cross weeping as their Savior was crucified.  Later they were among those in the upper room praying when the Holy Spirit came and they were endued with power from on high.  Mayla and Josiah continued their work and brought many to the Kingdom.  Later, they were captured and imprisoned because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They were brought before the judges and accused of heresy.  They died a martyr's death with a smile on their face and joy in their heart.\


Photo taken by Gavin Harper of Lydia DeLeon in Tuscany, Italy.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Sylvia Hensel

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