The “check engine” light came on Friday evening of course, while driving home in rush hour traffic. Yes, I panicked. Yes, I shook my head in disgust. Ugh, really? Yes, I jumped on the phone for security. No I didn’t dial Jesus or AAA. I don’t have the latter. It made me feel better to tell someone I ‘knew’, I might just be stranded on the “Bishop Ford” during rush hour. Disgust.
I was still a good 20 minutes from home. I didn’t see or smell any smoke. Good sign, right? Everything appeared normal with no crazy sounds, so I continued my drive, frequently visiting the glaring yellow warning signal, “check engine”. My heart was racing a bit. Can I make it home? Please God! When I was about five minutes from the house, I was a little calmer, when all of a sudden, the “check engine” light started flashing non-stop, the car started doing weird things, and I wasn’t sure if “she” Betsy–my car would make it to the house. Real nice God. Really cool. Ahh…I did make it home. Thank you God.
What I did know in the midst of my experience, is if my car “died” I would be able to make it home from the McDonalds. I could walk. I might run into someone I know from the neighborhood or some kind and random stranger would certainly be willing to help a single mother, with four daughters, stranded on the side of the road in a 1996 Nissan Quest. Right?! After all it had been a long and busy day at work, not to mention week, and certainly I looked tired.
Fast forward Monday morning. I took my car in to my trusted mechanic of many years, Al. He’s been working on “Betsy” a very long time. Never laughing at her condition or my limited capital. Al has always been honest and fair. When I entered the shop about 8:30am, there were already two women ahead of me who had been there awhile.
I found it strange the three of us there. I am not certain why I found it strange, perplexing or sad in that moment, but I did. Three women. Alone. One with the cutest baby girl ever wrapped in her pink coat and still strapped in her carrier for safety. Understandably so, as Al’s garage is a true garage complete with oil, lots dirt, dampness, big tools, and loud noises. This was not a luxury service area. The other woman was on the phone talking with who appeared to be her sibling discussing their mother who is ill and needing to get to the hospital. Her call was interrupted by her employer. which seemed to disturb her a bit. Yes, I could hear everything, but honestly it was not intentional. Neither was she speaking to loud nor was I eavesdropping. I was just in tune. The woman on the phone hesitated and said, “Awe…this is my boss calling. I don’t know if I want to answer.” But she did, and she, “sighed.” I felt for her in that moment. Huh you know…come to think of it, many of Al’s clients are women.
Apparently this was a Holy Spirit teaching kind of moment for me, which I didn’t recognize immediately; however, He certainly kept this event in my heart the entire day. I had not forgotten the two women with me in that garage.
It was a strange moment. I was still, and I was saddened. I wondered where are all of our men were? Why weren’t our men dropping off the cars and talking to the mechanic? Why wasn’t there a man to help this woman get to her mother, and why was this young daughter “my daughter” “our daughter” dropping off her car to the mechanic at 7:00am with her infant in tow? Where were our men? I hear a sister-friend saying, ‘Who needs a man to do this job? I am more than capable. I got this.’ I hear you, and I do understand. But I am not feeling you. I am just saying.
My mind wondered off. Maybe our men are at work? They do have jobs and it is ‘that time’, and maybe he gave us mechanic detail. Maybe our men were still sleeping, because they just got off work and they were simply too tired to get us there this morning. We certainly understand. Maybe our men made the appointment ahead of time and had already spoken with Al? Or maybe we didn’t have any men? How about that? Maybe there were no fathers, brothers, husbands, or significant others? Hell, maybe there were too many men, and we simply couldn’t choose? Maybe we were solo and doing things for ourselves? I get it.
Don’t get me wrong. I cannot possibly know whether these women were married or single. In good or indifferent relationships with family or friends. There may have been very good reasons why our men were absent this morning. My ‘man’ was at work. Yes, he was at work. Yes, for real. At work.
When I thought about my own life, a divorced mother of four girls for more years than I can remember, visits to the mechanic alone are common place. Not necessarily a good place, however, common and when needed a necessary place.
And so there we sat waiting for the news. How much would it be, and I wondered, if this was it for “Besty”? The baby cooed and laughed, and I studied a little. The other just stared out the window. One by one Al called each of us to the front. ”Here’s what’s wrong with your car“, he’d say with his heavy Spanish accent and great smile. He’s such a pleasant man. ”I am going to fix this tire for you.” He said, to the young mother. ”There’s a nail in your tire. You ran over a nail. I am going to fix it, and I am going to move it on the rear end, because it shouldn’t be on the front of your car. Too much pressure on the front of the vehicle. I am going to plug it, move it and make it safe for you and your baby.” He smiled called her into the garage and showed her the nail, the tire and where he would move the tire. Problem solved. She was happy, and relieved. I felt it in her spirit.
That’s how it went this morning. One by one he worked with each of us. Speaking to us directly, as though we were mechanics. This is the caliper, this is the bracket, the axel is broken, the muffler needs work, the noc is reading this report, the struts, the rotors, and on and on he went. He showed us the parts he would fix, where they would go, what was broken, rusted, and worn. Class was in session. Ultimately, he told us he could help us, and this morning we were at his mercy. Well, sort of.
John 4: 4-15 (NIV) The Samaritan Woman Meets Her Messiah
Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,“Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “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.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 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.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
We’ve heard it preached on many a Sunday morning–”The Woman at the Well”. This is who God put on my heart after my mechanic experience this morning. And this account happens to be one of my favorite passages of scripture. It may actually be my favorite. I can so relate to her–this Samaritan woman, who was so “insignificant” the gospel writer doesn’t even bother to mention her name. She was a woman, a Samaritan and not a Jew oh my three strikes against this woman, and three women in that garage. Jesus was determined he would have a conversation with the Samaritan woman, and he was determined to have a heart to heart with me.
Do you know the conversation with this nameless Samaritan woman is the longest recorded conversation with Jesus in the Bible? That is rather significant in my book! Especially for someone with three strikes and who goes nameless. Indeed, we don’t know her name, but we do know he had need to meet with her. There were three ‘nameless’ women in that garage this morning. ”Yes, three women with three stories.” God, yes, three women who indeed needed a mechanic this morning. ”Oh, but so much more than a mechanic!”
There were three women who needed healing. My God did I miss it? There were three women who needed answers. Not just about our cars. There were three women who needed a man in that moment God. No, not another man. You all have men.
You see the woman at the well, had known several men and yet she was still alone at the well, in spirit and at home. Between the three of us we knew several men for sure, but they were not the answer this morning. Certainly, if we had scrolled through our phones there were enough men! But we didn’t call them. Surely, there was a man we could count on? Clearly, there was a man who cared, ‘we were in a nasty, dirty, smelly garage, with an infant. There was a man somewhere who would be checking on us now, today or later? Right?!
But no man had the answer for me this morning. No man had the answer for us this morning. There were no men. And Al, though he was the man we came to see he was not the man our spirit desired. He was our well, but the water was not living.
No man we knew could feel the stillness in that garage. No man would come to our rescue this morning. In all of my head discussion and self talk — In all of my questioning where are our men, God had spoken to my heart, 10 Jesus answered her, “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.” My focus was all wrong. I was speaking from my limited potential. The woman I once knew. Momentarily, I was trapped in my feelings and senses. I had forgotten who I’d become. For a moment, I felt abandoned, and not only for myself, but for two other women, but I didn’t bother to pray. I felt like the Samaritan woman. I felt nameless, insignificant, a woman of many men but no husband. I felt it for my sister in that garage. I felt it for sisters everywhere. I felt the tiredness of Jesus, and I too needed a drink. I could have gone for a glass of wine at 9:00am, but that wasn’t the drink that would quench my thirst.
I needed living water! I needed freedom, and I wanted the Messiah’s living water. The fact is whether I am driving a 2012 or a 1996 vehicle, I will need a mechanic again, BUT if I come to know a “man” — Jesus, the Messiah the truth is I will live free and abundantly. 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
My spirit opened up. I realized I wasn’t crying for our men not in that moment — though my cry for them is real. In this experience I was crying for me, for you sister-friend, because only the Messiah can remove our feelings of insignificance. Only the Messiah will heal our broken places. Only the Messiah takes the focus off of others and reflects His light on self.
For as much as I and we needed a mechanic this morning and for as much as I questioned where are our men–The deeper question is, Christ will you give me this living water that I will never thirst again?