From an Outlander to an Insider

In the movie Crocodile Dundee, Sue Charlton flies from New York City to the Outback of Australia in search of her big story. She hopes to interview Mick Dundee, a legendary bushman who lost his leg fighting off a hungry crocodile. Mick won and apparently crawled for miles before reaching safety.

When Sue and Mick meet face to face, she realizes this will not be her breaking story because Mick stands before her two-legged. She’s done with this backwoods place until Mick snidely concludes she’d never survive the Australian Outback. In predictable 80’s movie fashion, the high-maintenance, city-slicker Sue is irritated when this nitwit dictates what she can or can’t do. She grabs a gun and heads into the Outback. Of course she’s attacked by a crocodile and rescued by Mick in the nick of time. You spend the rest of the movie laughing at how out-of-place Sue is in the Outback, hoping all the while that Mick will save the day.

Why am I telling you about Mick and Sue? Because even though Sue’s lot is humorous in a movie, it can be frustrating in real life. I’ve been Sue. I’ve felt like an outsider who doesn’t belong. I’ve felt helpless, lonely and out-of-place. I’ve put up defenses and acted confident to make myself feel better, but it only isolated me even more. My pretense may have fooled the people around me, but inside I simply felt like an outsider who wanted to be on the inside. I was  a lonely person who craved belonging and acceptance. Are you with me?

Jesus has a conversation with a woman in John 4 who is just like me. She comes to the well alone in the afternoon because she’s sick and tired of the village women shunning and snubbing her on the morning well trips. No one is at the well when she arrives except a Jewish man who wouldn’t be caught dead talking to a woman, much less “Samaritan trash” like her. Perhaps her aloneness keeps her safe from ridicule, but it doesn’t give her a sense of belonging.

Thankfully, Jesus is no ordinary Jew. He sees her holding her head low and has the compassion and power to lift it up. He will make this outcast an insider.

He is speaking to her. Fear rises in her heart because he’s breaking the rules. Why would he ask for water, and then tell her he has an unlimited supply? Where is this water? How can he draw water with no bucket? She wants to ignore him, but if he could show a place where water flows freely, she might be able to avoid this shameful journey every day, so she asks “Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

But just as hope enters her heart, he starts asking her personal, hurtful, painful questions which bring her shame to the surface. “You have had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband.” (John 4:18).  

“Why did I open up to him?” she thinks. “I should have stayed in my Outback. How does this man know my secrets? Will I ever escape my mistakes or will I forever feel ostracized, lonely and unloved?”  

She’s lost in her misery when the word "salvation" trickles from his lips. This Jew, this man who seems to be a prophet, is claiming to be the Messiah. Has he come to rescue her; to make her an insider? Could this be true? She runs to tell “her” people, the ones who made her an outsider. She thinks, "If they believe him, I’ll no longer be an outsider. Maybe he can make me an insider again.”

And John tells us the end of her story, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’” (John 4:39-42)

The cry of the Samaritan woman is similar to each of ours. Haven’t we all had an Outback experience; one where we come away feeling rejected, lonely or isolated? Don’t we all want to trade our Outback to be an Insider?

Jesus is waiting at the well for you. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection brought harmony to a bunch of outsiders who didn’t feel at home anywhere. And I’m convinced one way he wants to deliver us from our Outback is by sending us to rescue someone from their barren land. When we leave our loneliness behind to offer a broken person life, we become an insider in their life. Your kindness will not go unnoticed by your Heavenly Father!  

Luke 6:38- Give, and it will be given to you; a good measure- pressed down, shaken together and running over- will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

© 2016 by Sharie King.  All rights reserved.