Last Sunday, as my wife and I were returning home from church and having lunch with friends, I did something I seldom do on a Sunday afternoon. I set my GPS to lead us home. We were on the east side the city, and we live on the northwest side. Sometimes interstates can get backed up on Sundays, with summer travelers either heading out for their week of vacation, or going back home. So, I thought Siri would make sure I detoured any standstill traffic and get us home more quickly. About an hour and fifteen minutes later, we were finally arriving at our front door...a trip that typically takes about thirty minutes. The kicker was, there were no traffic jams or heavy-traffic slow-downs. Apparently, I had accidentally set the maps app to avoid highways. I think we explored every back road and country avenue there was between Old Hickory and Ashland City. We saw countryside we had never seen before. What should have been about a thirty-minute trip, ended up being 1 1/2 times longer. A GPS navigation device can be a helpful tool...as a matter of fact, I have become accustomed to using them extensively in my day-to-day work as well as any road trip we take. I follow the directions without much thought, unlike the days when I had to read a paper roadmap. As you can see, sometimes that can be a problem. As a matter of fact, it could be dangerous, if one doesn't remain alert. On at least two occasions, while traveling, I have had the GPS navigation device tell me to go the wrong way on a one-way street. As much as we rely upon navigation technology, we need to be intentional and alert in order to stay on the right path...the one that gets us to where we need to be.
In life, our journey takes us many places. Sometimes, those routes and destinations are nothing out of the ordinary, sometimes they can be a surprise. They may be planned, or come at you without warning...like a ride through the countryside that more than doubles your road time. In that case, our ultimate destination was the same, but the route was quite a different matter. We saw some beautiful scenic landscapes. Was the cost of time worth the view? The jury is still out on that.
On one occasion, Jesus took a journey that involved an intentional detour. We find the account in the Gospel of John, chapter 4. In the account that the Apostle John wrote, we find that Jesus was leaving Judea and heading back to His home area of Galilee. However, on this journey, John gave a small note that could easily be overlooked.
Now he had to go through Samaria.
This simple statement says volumes. Here's the backstory. You see, the most direct route from Judea to Galilee would normally take the traveler through the region of Samaria. Judea was to the south and Galilee was to the north. Samaria was bordered on the west by the Mediterranean Sea and on the east, by the Jordan River. Here's the catch, however. Most Jews avoided traveling through Samaria because of their opinion of the Samaritans. Samaritans were the decedents of Jews who had intermarried with people of other nationalities, making them "half-breeds," thus diluting the Jewish nation with gentile blood lines and intermingling the Jewish culture and traditions with those of pagan nations. These people were so despised by the Jews that they would travel out of their way...crossing the Jordan River and traveling north, past Samaria, before crossing back to the region of Galilee.
So, for Jesus to say/think that He "had to go through Samaria," says a great deal about His heart...His intentions. He knew the needs of the people of Samaria, so he had a plan.
On this intentional journey that Jesus and His disciples made across the region of Samaria, they came to a town called Sychar, and He sat down by the Well of Jacob. It was around noon, and His disciples went into town to buy some food for them to eat. While Jesus was sitting there, a Samaritan woman came out to draw water. Now this was unusual, because, the typical time for women to come to the well was early in the morning. This tells us that this particular woman was probably wanting to avoid the women of the city. As we will find, she may have desired to avoid the public scrutiny and scorn of the other women. However, she had no idea that this particular day, she would have her life changed forever.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”...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.) 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.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.”
John 4:7, 9-14
Jesus readily engaged this woman as an individual...a person who is valuable...a person who has a past, who has made bad choices, who has been scorned by the public, who feels shame, who believes she isn't worthy of the care and concern of someone considered to have it all together. But, Jesus knows that this woman needs the very thing He has to offer...forgiveness and eternal life. This began a conversation that would wade through putting on a good face, deflecting from the true need, and religious controversy. But, then Jesus shares a truth with her that is the central reason for his detour.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
This was the very reason Jesus had taken the intentional "non-detour" detour through Samaria...to tell this woman about eternal life and to offer Himself as her Savior. He was determined that the would not be deterred from this mission. The result was that this Samaritan woman, an outcast of society, met the Messiah who had come to be her Redeemer. This was all because Jesus being on a mission and refusing to be sidetracked by cultural prejudice, religious controversy or inconvenience.
The Lesson for Our Purposed Life
We have talked about intentional living in a previous post. God gives us an example of what it means to be intentional in our living. Jesus, His Son, follows suit in modeling intentional living as well.
So, we see Jesus modeling the life of purpose lived out in a "non-detour" detour so that a woman, who was scorned by her community, could come to receive eternal life. When you live your life intentionally and are willing to go out of your way, you may see God doing some amazing, life-changing things in the lives of those you encounter.
In part 2, we will see the ripple effect and how it teaches us the power of story. This is part 1 of 2, in the series "Mapping Our Journey." You can read part 2 here.
What gets in the way of living life intentionally? How have you seen God work in and through you, when you have been intentional? We would love for you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Please consider liking and sharing this post on social media, to help expand the community.
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With over forty years of ministry experience, Randy Kinnick continues to live a life of pursuing the purpose for which he was created. Whether teaching God's Word to adults, coaching youth and young adults in finding their purpose, or caring for the hurting and abused in Southeast Asia, the adventure has taken him around the world in ways he could have never dreamed. The adventure continues!