While reading John Calvin (1509-1564) on John 4:10, I found some thoughts that resonate not only with the text he was talking about, but also with some of the basics of what we know as 12 Step recovery.
Calvin says of the Help we all need, “We cannot aspire to Him in earnest until we have begun to be displeased with ourselves. For what man is not disposed to rest in himself? Who, in fact, does not thus rest, so long as he is unknown to himself; that is, so long as he is contented with his own endowments, and unconscious or unmindful of his misery? Every person, therefore, on coming to the knowledge of himself is not only urged to seek God, but is led as by the hand to find him.”
Calvin was reflecting on what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman he met at Jacob’s well, at about noon, under the heat of the middle east sun. “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).
In commenting on this verse, Calvin anticipates what got the woman’s attention. Jesus unnerved her by indicating that he knew that she had been married 5 times and was now living with a 6th (17, 18, 29).
Am thinking that together these ideas are mirrored in the emerging awareness of the first two steps of recovery thinking:
1. We admitted we were powerless over _____—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The woman who encountered Jesus becomes not only one of the first of the Samaritans to come into the Family, but also becomes one of the first “missionaries of the good news”. She runs back to her community with news that she met a man who knew “everything she had ever done”.
Calvin’s words (above) come as he reflects on how real change occurs somewhere between the awareness of our own mess… and the presence of the One who alone has the goodness and power to help us…
Seems to me that, in any day or language, this is about the worst and best moments of our lives…