I love stories. There is something about the way the words combine and speak to the deepest part of my being. My favorite storyteller is Jesus — the master storyteller. He speaks and I am mesmerized.
I’m going to share a story from John 4 — The Woman at the Well. In a society where external holiness was of the utmost importance and anything less would get you stoned, she was an outcast. Each marriage she thinks, “This one will be different.” Each time she wants desperately to be loved. Each time she is left wanting. One…Two…Three…Four…Five. With no hope left, she gives herself to one who is not committed to her. She is now the invisible one.
Jesus meets her at the well. He a Jew, one of Abba’s holy people, speaks to her. I can imagine her surprise. A man. A Jewish man. He speaks to me? A woman? A woman with five husbands? A woman who lives with a man who is not her husband? HOW CAN THIS BE?
He asks her for a drink of water. She responds, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for water from me, a woman of Shomron?”. I know how she feels. Surprised. Scared. Unsure. What do I say? How do I respond? What does he want? Is he just another man looking to use me?
Jesus gives a simple, humble response that will challenge her thinking. “ If you knew God’s gift, that is, who it is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink of water,’ then you would have asked him; and he would have given you living water.” Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know that I know who you are?
As I’m reading this interaction my mind wanders to another story. The story from the beginning. Adam, the first man, was given one command: “Thou shalt not eat the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden.” Abba gave him a helper, perfectly suited for him. Adam called her Eve. In the middle of this story is the line that has always intrigued me.
They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:25 CJB)
As a girl I would giggle when they read these verses. When my thinking skills developed I started asking what it meant. Did it just mean that they were physically naked? If God made us that way, then why would it be shameful to be naked? My questions would make people uncomfortable and I’d be told to ask my parents. I learned that you just didn’t talk about being naked. And you certainly didn’t want to be naked. Naked, was a shameful thing.
Eventually I would be told of the nakedness of a man and a woman and the resulting sin. For a girl who had endured silent years of her naked body being used, the teaching was devastating. The original sin. The one that separated humanity from their god. Was nakedness. And nakedness was the proper way to say sex. I had sinned against God. Like Adam, I would die. You just cannot recover from that type of mental twisting without some serious intervention.
As I began to realize that what happened to me was not my fault, I began to think that perhaps the story in Genesis was not about a physical body and a physical interaction between two people. I began to wonder if it was much deeper than that.
Adam. Eve. The woman at the well. They all have one thing in common: they hide and try to cover their nakedness. In both stories, God shows up. He’s not ashamed. He’s not judging. He’s not afraid to touch them. He is there, asking a question. Where are you? Do you know who I am? Do you know who you are?
Adam had a choice. He could stand before God. In his nakedness. His sin revealed. He could have made the choice to be bare before a God who made him and loved him. He chose to hide. To blame Eve. The Serpent. God himself. Ultimately, he chose to die. The woman at the well. She had a choice too. She stood before Jesus, unaware of who he was. She could choose to walk away. Instead, she chose to talk with this man.
The woman wanted the living water Jesus offered. But then, he told her to get her husband. Can you imagine the shame she must have felt at that very moment? Think about what she must have felt. I know I would want to hide. She responds, “I don’t have a husband.” WOW! In that moment, she was willing to lay herself bare. Her sin was known, and she was not afraid. She did not hide.
Jesus response, floors me. He revealed to her just who he was. Her life changed in one moment. Because she was naked. And she was not ashamed. It’s a very, very different story than the one I was told growing up.
I often wonder why he didn’t ask her what her name was. Why do we not know who she is? There’s a reason. The woman at the well. It’s me. It’s you. It’s every woman who has believed every lie about themselves from the moment they were born. That we are property to be used and discarded at the whim of a man. That we are weak. That our bodies are shameful. That we are the reason sin is in this world. Jesus told this story to tell women, “You are loved. You do not need to be ashamed.”
I challenge you. Plead with you. Beg you. Stand before God. Be bare. Be Naked. Let him see who you are. See who are and refuse to be ashamed. He doesn’t need us to tell him who we are. WE need to tell ourselves who we are. He’s not ashamed. We should no longer be ashamed. When you’re that honest. When you don’t have one more excuse, justification or explanation for who you are and what you do. He covers you with love and gives you life.
Being naked has absolutely NOTHING to do with my body or whether it’s attractive or whether my husband likes it. Being naked is about my soul. My soul has been touched by the only one who can give it life. It makes me want to tell everyone, “Come and meet the one who knows me.”
May you meet the one who loves your naked soul.