Excerpt taken from Thad's first book, "Real Identity" (pg 48)
There’s somewhere to go. Something to do.
It was after service. I was preaching on a Sunday morning at a church in new England, still in my late twenties. Standing in the back of the church, a young woman gave me the tiniest glimpse into her life. She wanted me to know, more than anything, that she had met Jesus. That He was everything to her. That her life was different today because of Him.
I asked how it happened.
At first, she made general comments. Her life had been hard. she had lost her way. she got in with the wrong crowd. She did things she shouldn’t have. But as she talked, she went deeper. She’d fallen prey to a man who dominated her—abused her, hooked her on drugs, and then threw her into the world of prostitution where night after night she felt raped and tortured. she said she tried to run twice. Both times he found her and told her he’d kill her.
“I didn’t know,” she said, “if I was dying or if I was already dead.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she talked. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. still, there was a gentleness about her.
“The police busted the guy,” she went on. “I was in prison for a few months. More like detox. When my head cleared, I just wanted to die. I felt like a piece of trash. So dirty and ugly inside. So embarrassed and filled with shame. What was I supposed to do when I got out of prison? Where would I go?”
And then she said something I’ll never forget. It changed something inside of me. It was more than just a word, more than a feeling, need, or craving of the heart. There was something deeper here. “I wanted one thing. Just one thing,” she said. “I wanted to be whole.”
That’s not what I was expecting her to say. I thought she was going to say, “I wanted to be clean.”
Clean. That’s the word. That’s the picture of baptism. That’s what John the Baptist was doing in the Jordan. He was inviting people to come down. Down into the waters of repentance. Down and under—to receive forgiveness of sin.
To wash. Real washing. Washing on the inside.
Like the woman at the well in John 4. She met Jesus. And Jesus met her. She didn’t have to tell Him her story. She didn’t need to reveal the pain in her life. The men. The abuse. The deepest harshest feelings of being ravaged and filthy in soul. Somehow He already knew. He knew it all.
And He talked of living water. This confused her.
It can confuse the reader too. We don’t see it. We only hear about it. If we take it, hold it, and drink it, it becomes in us “a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). Great news, but where is it? Why doesn’t He give it to her?
But He does. We have to have eyes to see it. It’s there. As they’re talking, this moment happens when she asks about the coming of the Messiah and that He, when He comes, will “declare all things to us” (John 4:25).
And that’s it. He hands her the living water. Not with a wooden spoon dipped into the well, but with words. Words bigger than words. Words that speak power to the soul. Power to wash. Power to clean the dirt. The filth. The stains that are so deep inside we think nothing in the world has the power to make it go away.
“I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26).
And the woman drinks.
Then she runs to the city. She tells them all. She’s different inside. She knows it. They know it. They know it enough to believe her. Enough to follow her. And to let her lead them to Jesus.
I’ve always seen this moment as a kind of baptism. Her washing inside. Like the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, “But you were washed . . . in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
Washed clean on the inside. All that dirt of our sin gone. All the filth of what people have done to hurt us, abuse us, shame us—gone.
But it’s more.
The woman I met that day at the back of the church taught me that. She told me she met Jesus. And Jesus met her. She told me how it happened and all the details that surrounded that day. But as she spoke, it was like she was taking me to the well.
Like there was somewhere to go. Something to do.
To take the water. Hold it. Drink it. Go down into it. That there’s power here.
The power of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. Power to forgive our sins. Power to wash the un-washable stains forever from the heart and soul.
“He did all that for me,” she said. “And so much more.”
And then she told me the burden of her heart. So many women just like her. Battered and beaten, day after day, with nowhere to go, nothing they can do. Feeling vulnerable, helpless and trapped.
“I want to find them,” she told me. “I want them to know Jesus. I want them to know what He did for me He will do for them.”
And then she said it simply: “He will make them safe. And then, after that, He will make them whole.”
Questions for reflection
Are there places in you that need to be clean?
Are there places in you that need to be whole?