The one and only time I heard Billy Graham in person was June 4, 1993 in Pittsburgh, PA. I remember the sweet spirit surrounding that stadium. I remember the scores of people making their way to the altar. I remember only one thing about the message.
His message was based on one obscure verse, John 4:4. Dr. Graham read these words, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” From there, he built his message.
Jesus had to be at that well, at that time, for that woman.
That’s all I remember.
It was enough to impact the rest of my life. Jesus knew where He had to be and He was there. I want to live like that. I want to know where God wants me to be and I want to be there. That’s where wow things happen.
But in order to be obedient, Jesus had to do a few other things:
- Had to go through a town that no one else wanted to visit. Jews would walk miles out of their way to avoid the ‘half-breed’ Samaritans. Jesus knew walking this route would add more ammunition to His enemies. He went anyway.
- Had to get tired. Think about it. God wanted Him to be so tired that He would require rest. Not only that, He had to be obedient to the spiritual call while physically drained. That’s not what I would call an ideal ministry scenario.
- Had to sit and wait. Scripture doesn’t tell us how long He waited but we can suppose it was at the hottest time of the day. There He sat, risking heatstroke, until His divine appointment arrived.
- Had to get rid of his friends and do this alone. I’ve often wondered why Jesus sent His disciples away. Food is John’s reasoning. I’m guessing it might have something to do with them scaring away the desired encounter. Think about it. These Jewish men despised Samaritans. They also were never allowed to speak to a woman in public. Jesus’ mission was to break all their sacred traditions. I can only assume their rejections would have created a wall of resistance to the Spirit’s work.
- Had to have a conversation with a defiled woman and defile Himself even more by drinking from her water jar.
- Had to say some tough things to her face. He had to risk alienating the very one He was sent to give witness.
- Had to reveal himself as the Messiah. His first revelation with His hometown friends resulted in them trying to kill him. He didn’t let a possible second rejection stop Him.
It’s easy to say, “I want to be where God wants me, doing what God wants of me.” It’s harder to live in that reality. Why? Because God will always ask us to leave our comfort zone, exhaust our own strength, wait patiently on Him alone, and then boldly tell a ‘hard-to-love’ person about the Lord who changed our lives.
Given any one of these obstacles and most believers quit. I’m tired of being a quitter.
The secret to living like Jesus is in that one little word ‘had’. Had is past tense of have and the synonyms include: must, need, obligate, require. Try saying it this way:
I must know where God wants me to be.
I need to be doing what God wants me to do.
I’m obligated to my Master and Lord.
I’m required to live out His life in me.