Who They Were: Lifted By The Lord


“How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Jews and Samaritans had deep historic, cultural, and religious enmity. At Jacob’s well in Samaria, Jews were rarely seen. More surprising than His presence was His reply: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” He knew what would happen between them; she did not.

As with this unlikely pairing, understanding has and continues to develop as Christ has reached out to persons where they were and gently, lovingly helped them recognize and rise to what they could become.

Miracle at the Well

Suspicion to Conversion

The Savior knew the Samaritan woman’s lifestyle, serious sins, weaknesses, and worldliness; He also recognized her potential and knew how to lift her.

Water was something she understood. He began with  “living water,” and she reminded Him that He had no container to draw water. He replied, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The daily well trips were not the woman’s favorite activity. “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” She was beginning to accept that there might be a supernatural water, a miracle at this well dug by her ancestor Jacob.

When she learned that He knew she had had 5+ husbands, she realized that more than the water was miraculous. “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” Knowing Samaritan religious teachings, He led her gently and tactfully toward the truth and the role she would assume.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am He. (See John 4)

The woman did not waste any time. Neglecting her waterpot, she went quickly to the city, telling the men, ”Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
Attracted by her testimony, they went immediately to Him. Many believed and brought others who also believed  As with the woman, He would have taken them where they were and brought them to eternal truth. They pleaded, and He remained with them two days.

In his book Blessed Are Ye, Brad called attention to how the woman’s progress in trust and conversion can be followed in the ways she addressed the Savior. First was the suspicious and likely scornful “Jew,” then the more respectful “sir,” eventually the highly religious “prophet,” and finally the recognition “Messiah.”  Brad concluded, “Each new title showed a closer relationship. The woman finally found the self-esteem, validation, respect and love she had looked for . . . She was renewed," as are all He has lifted from where they were to the potential they reached.

Uncertainty to Understanding

The legacy of the woman at the well continues today. Susan Porter, one of Brad’s friends, had questions many 7-Day Christians can understand. When, after trauma and loss, she wondered where she should move with her life, Susan saw a picture portraying this Samaritan woman. She explained,

Despite her life’s difficulties, one of the Savior’s first public declarations that He was the Messiah was to her . . . She became a powerful witness . . . And many of the Samaritans of [her] city believed on Him for the saying of the woman . . . Her past and present circumstances did not determine her future. Like her, we can choose to turn to the Savior today for the strength and healing that will enable us to fulfill all that we were sent here to do.

With this life-changing/life-affirming confirmation, Susan is now president of a very large international network of Christian organizations devoted to teaching and improving the lives of children worldwide. She is one of those taken from where they were to place her hand in the Lord’s.

Called and Lifted

The Savior understands our circumstances and our individuality. During His time on earth and always before and after, He has taught, protected,  and perfected each—beginning with who and where they were and guiding them toward who and what they could become.

He knew what was ahead for them. International Christian leader Dieter F. Uchtdormf noted, “Perhaps we are not wise or mighty. But when God works through us, no one and nothing can stand against us.”

Out of Fishing Boats

Peter, James, John, and Andrew were fishermen. When Christ called these four, he started where they were—with fish. Peter and Andrew had struggled all night long and caught nothing, and the Savior told them to let their nets down on the other side of the boat. So many fish were in those nets that they began to break. Fish filled Peter and Andrew’s boat and James and John’s.

Jesus offered to make them “fishers of men” (Matthew 4). His Spirit was powerful; all came. The father of James and John was left alone in his boat to deal with the fish.

The Savior lovingly prepared Peter, who would need to lead the Church when He left this earth. Some say Peter had to try walking on water. He needed to bear his testimony to his fellow apostles, responding to “whom say ye that I am?” with a strong affirmation: “Thou art the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15 ff).

Christ continued to guide: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Peter had passed a critical point. The Savior was ready to declare that Peter would succeed Him in leading the Church, that he would receive the keys for the kingdom and its ordinances.

At the transfiguration keys would be given; Peter, James, and John would see the Savior in His glory talking with Moses and Elias; and they would hear the Father bear testimony of  His love and approval for His Son. As Christ’s Atonement approached and was fulfilled, these soul fishers would be sorely tried, but they, and the other apostles, would be lifted to their callings.

Up From Anger

Paul needed to be picked up off the ground, though he had been in deeper places. Christ’s appearance along with temporary blindless helped the humility problem. As Saul of Tarsus, he had been an angry person, determined to harm Christianity and Christians.

When the Lord told his Damascus disciple Ananias that Saul was being brought in, Ananias was frightened, but the Lord calmed him: “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”  Other disciples in Damascus helped raise Saul.

Saul was changed in more than his name. He became a fearless then-world-wide defender of the faith—one of the most productive and admired of all missionaries for the Christianity he had sought to destroy.

“Ordinary” 7-Day Christians

As we move uncomfortably through the 2020s, we too can be among those lifted by Christ from where they were to what he wants them to become. We don’t have to be a sinner at a well, a worldwide advocate for children, or a mainstay in the history of Christianity.

God lifts and guides 7-Day Christians to what He knows they can do. And He asks them to help others reach their own potential. We would like to share just a few of very many we have known and loved.

Years before today’s understanding of disabilities and reading instruction, an elementary school teacher was determined that no child would leave her classroom unable to read. No child did. During her 30 years of teaching (Grades 1-6), she found a way to reach every child’s needs, learning patterns, and strengths/capabilities. Her natural sensitivity and her love for each child individually have impacted more lives than even those who loved her could ever imagine.

A police detective was able to see strengths and potential in even the most challenging young people and to help them see what he saw. When colleagues were asked how he worked so effectively with gang members and other violent lawbreakers, they said only, “That’s just how he is.” He was incredibly brave and an incredibly strong upright Christian. A fellow detective understood, “They see in him what they might become.” This life-changing officer knew and said often that God wanted him to do this and brought him where he was needed.

A medical professional spent a month in the home of a family whose elementary-age son suffered serious depression with suicide attempts. Personal experience and divine guidance taught her that children need to be taken from where they are to understand their worth and recognize love surrounding them. Daily encouraging the boy to talk about whatever he chose, she listened and continually assured him how important he was to her and to others. He made heart-warming progress.

International Christian advocate Henry B. Eyring instructed leaders,

See gifts God sees in those you lead...you will be blessed to lift their sights to the service they can perform...With your guidance,...[they] will be able to see, want, and believe they can achieve their full potential.

As Christ so often did, you can begin by starting where they are.

4/27/2023 4:24:38 PM
  • featured writer
  • Brad Wilcox
    About Brad Wilcox
    Brad Wilcox has lived in Ethiopia, Chile, New Zealand, and Spain; he and his family now make their home amid the Rocky Mountains in the United States. Brad taught sixth grade before obtaining his PhD in education. His contributions as an author and teacher have been honored by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and his work has appeared in Guideposts magazine and Reader's Digest. He once served as a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America and has addressed thousands of youth and adults across the globe. He and his wife Debi have four children and nine grandchildren.