About Me

My photo
Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Could you use a drink?

John 4:5-30
James McTyre
Lake Hills Presbyterian Church

Even the nicest people in the world just lose it once in a while.

How many of you have ever pitched a fit because you didn't get what you wanted?

Screamed and cried. Pounded your fists on the floor. Pounded your fists on the computer.

Yelled at your kids. Yelled at your parents.

Mumbled foul things at your husband or wife behind their back.

Saluted another driver in a special way.

Smarted off to a teacher who gave you a bad grade.

Ranted and raved because you didn't get the service you deserve.

Now, I don't want to encourage this behavior. But...

It's kind of an off-the-wall concept: the fit-pitchers of this world are really just frustrated worshipers of God.

Really. Listen to how many times God's name is invoked while pitching a fit.

Fit-pitchers are frustrated worshipers of God who are this close to giving it up and giving it all to God.

But they get bent back onto themselves by their own preconceptions.

If you're a fit-pitcher, I want to tell you there is hope.

You're on the right track, just in the wrong lane.

Jesus Christ is this close to fill you with the waters of everlasting life.

That ought to be some good news for everyone who raised their hand this morning, and for everyone who knew they should but didn't.

The story of Moses and the grumbling Israelites.

Classic fit-pitching of biblical proportions.

The people are pitching a fit at Moses.

"Why did you lead us out here to die?"

Moses is pitching a fit back.

"Why are you yelling at me? It was God's idea."

In final desperation, Moses cries out to God, "What am I going to do with these people?"

In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, the roles are reversed.

Here, it's Jesus who's tired and thirsty, who honestly comes off as pretty grouchy.

And here it's the Samaritan woman, who also is kind of grumpy, hard-headed, who has the water Jesus wants, but doesn't believe she has the right, the power, the ability to give it.

She gets frustrated with Jesus.

"You ain't even got a bucket!"

She speaks what's on her mind.

But here's the thing:

Jesus also knows what's on her mind.

Knows what's on her mind, knows what's in her heart, and in her past, and in her bedroom.

She thinks she's smart enough to tell him a thing or two, but Jesus beats her to the punch – because he already knows everything she could say, knows all about her.

She drops her bucket – and runs off to become the first preacher in the Gospel According to John.

She tells everyone about Jesus.

A frustrated fit-pitcher, who became a worshiper of Christ, after she realized he already knew all her complaints and all her protests.

When we complain – grumble, pitch fits – we do it because we know there's something we want, but for whatever reason we can't get it.

We don't know how to get it, somebody's keeping us from it, there's a big rock between us and the flowing stream.

So we pitch fits.

Grind our teeth, bang our heads, shout, cry, stomp our feet, sulk.

Sometimes pitching fits works – not because it's such a good idea, but because it scares people so much that they'll let us have our way, even if it's not the right thing.

People do get really good at it, too.

There are some expert grumblers – grumble all the time.

Now, someone watching them from a safe distance might think, "Man, is he ever going to be satisfied? Is she ever going to get enough results that she'll quit grumbling?"

And the answer is, probably not.

They go to the well again, and again, and again.

Grumbling works.

Except that the grumbling creates a circle of viciousness that always leads back to the grumbler.

Always, unless – you realize God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, already knows everything you think you need.

God, Christ, already knows all about you – what's on your mind, in your heart, in your past, in your bedroom.

And I say that last part not to shock, but to be clear that even our most secret things are known to God.

God already knows.

Once we understand that, take it into our hearts, our complaining is transformed from just an obnoxious means to get what we want –

into a sign that there is no earthly way we can ever get everything we need.

The only one who can supply our true, basic need is Jesus Christ.

He knows what we need and calls us away from the rocks and dry wells,

calls us to set our eyes, hearts, and minds on him –

which is the meaning of true worship –

calls us to worship in spirit and in truth for the glory of God and the satisfaction of our fit-pitching souls.

I think one of the greatest things that holds us back from true worship of God is that we think our grumpiness is an end unto itself.

We get to be like bulls charging at our own red flags, instead of seeing the red flags not as targets, but as warning signs.

Warning signs that we're in desperate need of someone or something who knows what we need.

The beginning of the greatest psalm, Psalm 23, says that "the Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want."

I don't think that means, as some people have translated it, that God's going to give you whatever you want, or that God will magically take away all your wants and desires.

We'll always have wants and needs that won't be satisfied.

But the truth is, most of the time when we complain about what we want or don't have – most of the time what we really want is just someone to listen to us, someone who will hear us talk about what we want, someone who will hang with us in times of need.

Someone who will know us – inside and out.

The Samaritan woman runs to her village and shouts, "Come and see a man who has told me everything I have ever done!"

She gets it.

She understands that Jesus knows her through and through.

Likewise the real miracle in the wilderness wasn't the water flowing from a rock;

it was that the Israelites came to understand that God heard their grumbling, God knew them, and listened.

Their hearts of stone were turned into rivers of praise, and they worshiped God – not for the water, but for hearing their cries.

Deep down, at the bottom of our wells of complaints is a need to be understood.

Almost every pitched fit can be traced back to the root of understanding.

"My parents don't understand me. My kids don't understand me. My husband or wife or boss or friend – doesn't understand me."

It's why bartenders and Samaritan women will always be popular.

But there's also God.

Praise God in spirit and in truth, for knowing us in spirit and in truth.