I got a complete 16-place setting of Oneida silverware for Christmas this year. I’m sure I will never serve dinner to 16 people at one time, but I was deliriously happy.
I’ve had my eye on a new set for a while now. We have silverware we received as a wedding gift twenty-six years ago, but our dishwasher apparently swallows forks and never gives them back.
The surviving spoons are treacherous to the tongue because they’ve been chewed by the garbage disposal one too many times.
As happy as I am to have smooth, matching silverware, no gift on earth can fill the need in my soul to be loved, satisfied, and fulfilled.
Three Ways to Find Fulfillment This Year
That need is within each of us, yet we all seek to satisfy it in different ways. For the woman at the well, relationships gave her temporary pleasure, but no man could satisfy the longing of her heart.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”John 4:7-9, ESV
Most Jews hated Samaritans and would go out of their way to avoid them, but not Jesus. To the woman at the well, longing to be loved and fulfilled, the words of Jesus set a spark of hope in her heart.
Could this be someone who doesn’t loathe me for who I am?
Jesus’ reply stunned her even more:
“‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’John 4:10
She came to the well with her water jar at the noon hour when no other women would be around, probably to avoid the stares and the gossip. She came with an empty jar reflecting her empty heart, desperate for more than just liquid in a container.
And Jesus offered her Himself.
The first step in finding fulfillment is to realize we will never find it in presents, people, or our own performance.
While each of those can offer temporary pleasure, none of them can ever fill the void in our lives.
Presents grow old and lose their shine; our own achievements will still fall short, and people will eventually disappoint. The only way we can be assured of a peace that passes understanding is to allow Jesus to fill the void.
Oh, I know. I doubted at first, too. How can someone I can’t see or touch offer me anything I need?
“‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?'”John 4:11
I know your well of emptiness and broken promises seems far too deep for hope. But Jesus shared a secret with her that I pray you will get too.
“‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”John 4:13-14
The second step to finding fulfillment in life is to understand what God offers.
He doesn’t just promise to forgive us. What Jesus offered her, and what He offers you and me, is His very presence, filling our lives and making us complete.
The Holy Spirit is the Living Water that will fill our empty souls and satisfy every longing and desire of our hearts. We don’t always recognize what we thirst for. We may seek material things, accomplishments, approval, or relationships to meet our needs. But what we really long for is God.
For our Samaritan friend, relationships with men had been her futile attempt to find love. But Jesus knew that a continual stream of men in her life would never satisfy her thirst.
Only Living Water could do that. And Jesus invited her to drink.
“‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.'”John 4:16-18
In that moment, she knew there was nowhere to hide. He had just read her mail, and she was a sinful Samaritan woman. Surely she wasn’t worthy to worship. But Jesus called her to come just as she was–in the right spirit and acknowledging the truth about her sin.
“‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.'”John 4:23
Yes, you. A despised Samaritan. A lowly woman. A sinful adulterer. The Father is seeking you.
And that, my friend, is why she laid down her jar.
“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?'”John 4:28-29
Oh, yes, I think you know the answer. He is the Christ, and He offers Living Water that will satisfy your soul. He knows all you have done and loves you still.
The ultimate way to find fulfillment is to lay down your empty jar.
Stop trying to fill it with everything but the real thing. Come to Jesus, confess your sins, and let Him pour out His Spirit into your life.
As we begin a new year, we can put the past behind us, but only after we deal with it. If you are struggling to fill the emptiness in your soul, Jesus invites you to come.
Life with the Living Water is better than any gift, accomplishment, or relationship you could ever hope or wish for. He will satisfy your deepest longing, and you will never thirst again.
For more on growing a personal, fulfilling relationship with Jesus, check out our latest Bible study, Inside Out and Upside Down: How Intimacy with Jesus Changes Everything.