BECOMING TRUE WORSHIPER

Rev. John Kha Tran, Houston, TX

Nashti, a poor Japanese stonecutter, was dissatisfied with his position in life. One day as he was working with his hammer and chisel upon a huge stone, he heard the crowd gathering along the streets to watch the King go by. Joining the crowd, he gazed in awe as the King, dressed in marvelous clothing, was greeted by his subjects.

"Oh, how I wish I had the power and glory and finery of the King," Nashti thought. "He has the whole world at his command. There is no one more powerful than the King."

His thoughts were heard in the heavens, and immediately, Nashti, the humble stonecutter was transformed into a powerful king. He found himself riding on a great horse, waving at the crowds of people who had flocked to see him. "This is power!" he exulted.

As summer progressed, however, the new king watched the effects of the heat upon his people. Men and animals become weary, and plants withered under the powerful rays of the sun. As he looked at the sky, the new king realized that the sun was far more powerful than he was. He thought, "I wish I were the sun." Immediately his wish was granted.

How the stonecutter relished his new role as the sun! He gloried in the power he felt as he surveyed the kingdoms below him. As he sent his bright rays to the earth, he watched kings and princes hide under his gaze. Even the crops in the field were under his command.

Then one day a tiny cloud moved over the land, shielding the earth from the sun’s bright rays. Seeing that here was something more powerful, he thought, "I want very much to be a cloud." Again, his wish was granted.

Now he blocked the sun’s rays and felt important. He gathered all of his strength, becoming a gigantic cloud, and began to pour down rain on the earth. Rivers formed where previously there were none, and water flooded the streets of the cities and the farmland. Everything – trees, animals, people – seemed to be awed by his power. Everything except a huge rocky mountain that remained untouched. Again he had discovered something more powerful. "There is nothing," he thought, "as powerful as this huge rock. How I wish I were a huge stone!" His wish was granted.

As a stone he remained motionless and powerful, unmoved by either sun or rain or anything that nature could bring. Nashti felt exempt from all the forces that shaped the life and existence of those around him.

Then one day a man approach him, carrying a bag. When he stopped, he pulled out a chisel and a hammer and began to chip away at the rock. Realizing that the man with the tools was more powerful than any rock, he cried out, "Oh, I want to be a stonecutter."

Once again the heavens heard his cry and he became a stonecutter. Once again he lived in a tiny hut and made his living with hammer and chisel (Charles Arcodia. Stories for Sharing, pp. 43-44).

Are you satisfied?

We are living in the United States of America, a free and wealthiest country in the world, but there are signs of dissatisfaction everywhere. People are dissatisfied with the government, the economy, the public educational system, and the health care system. Just name a few. Many married couples are dissatisfied with their marriages. Now and then we hear this or that distinguished couple are seeking divorces based on "irreconcilable differences." Some men and women out there are not satisfied with their genders. Not too long ago, I received a call from a person who told me, "Father, I am so depressed. I am so scared. I am afraid that I will not go to heaven." I asked her, "Why? God is loving and merciful. Why are you worried?" She said, "Father, I am afraid, because thirty years ago, I had a "trans-gender" operation? Now I am afraid that God is going to punish me!" We might not have that anxiety, but for many of us, though we have a place to live, food in the pantry, some money in the bank, investment in the stock market, a few credit cards, and an automobile... but we still feel somewhat not quite satisfied. We still feel as if we do not have enough. We wish that our jobs be more secured. We hope our lives be happier and easier. We wish that our children would do better with their lives. We wish that we were to be promoted to higher position with more power and better pay. We want more and more. There is always a thirst of something. When our thirst is not satisfied, we are not happy. We become cranky. We complain. We protest.

The People of Israel

The people of Israel were suffering in their slavery; they thirsted for freedom. They dreamed that they could live freely and peacefully in their homeland. God wanted to respond to their cry. God chose Moses to be their leader. They knew that God had chosen Moses to lead them out of slavery to the Promised Land. They saw the power of God acting through Moses with different miracles to convince Pharaoh to let them go. God saved them from the Egyptian army right before their eyes. But when they were in the desert, in their thirst for water, they forgot every wonderful thing God had done for them. They almost lost their faith. They grumbled against Moses, "Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?" They became irrational, and they wanted to kill Moses.

The Samaritan Woman

Because of the thirst for water, the Samaritan woman came to the well. Also because of his thirst, Jesus asked the woman to give him something to drink. But there was another kind of thirst in the woman and in Jesus, the thirst of the heart. Jesus was aware of this thirst, but the woman was not. Jesus knew how to satisfy this thirst, but the woman did not. There was unity and wholeness in Jesus, but there was division in the woman’s heart. And Jesus was leading her to the spring of water that could give her satisfaction. He was leading her to the spirit of a true worshiper. As Jesus said, true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth. And he told her that God, the Father, is seeking such people to worship him. How did Jesus lead her to the spirit of true worshiper?

Jesus led the woman to the realization that she had had five husbands, but she was not satisfied. Five men could not satisfy her thirst of the heart. At the time she met Jesus she was living with the sixth man. And in her conversation with Jesus, she realized that she was still thirsty. She was still not satisfied. There was still a deep empty hole in her heart. There was still a division between her and Jesus. When Jesus reached out to her with the request, "Give me a drink, " she challenged, "How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?" And when Jesus told her about the living water he would give, she did not have any idea what He was talking about. Her thinking was still very secular and worldly. She thought that Jesus was not in touch with reality. "Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water?" But actually she was the one who was not in touch with reality. She was not in touch with the source of living water that could satisfy her thirst. The good thing was that she did not dismiss Jesus. She continued to engage in the conversation.

When Jesus told her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst: the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." Jesus continued to engage the woman in the conversation because he thirsted for her faith and her love. He was preparing her for the gift of faith. In his thirst to receive faith he awakened in her heart the fire for God’s love. She came to the realization that neither multiple human relationships nor water could satisfy her thirst, she immediately asked Jesus, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

The Source of Satisfaction

We also have the thirst of our hearts. We are too soon in trying to satisfy our thirst from the water of different wells in the world. But there will be no well, no water, nothing in this world that could satisfy the thirst of our hearts. Can money, sex, power, drug satisfy the thirst of our hearts? It is certainly not. The thirst in our hearts is the thirst for God, the thirst for eternity. Psalm 42 describes, "As a deer longs for a stream of cool water, so I long for you, the living God." Isaiah invites the thirsty souls, "Come, everyone who is thirsty – here is water! ... Why spend money on what does not satisfy? Why spend your wages and still be hungry?... Listen now, my people, and come to me; come to me and you will have life!"(Is 55:1-3).

When the Samaritan woman met Jesus, she realized that nothing in this world could satisfy the thirst of her heart but Jesus alone. The water of the well became less important to her. She left her water jar at the well and went into the town to invite others, "Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly the Christ?" She became a true worshiper. And she testified to others so that they could also believe in Jesus. She understood Jesus’ saying, "True worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him."