Joshua’s brown eyes scanned the dilapidated neighborhood, sadness pooled in his eyes. He watched as a half-dressed man with no shoes rummaged through the large garbage bin in the alley behind a rib joint. A tap of his finger activated the automatic window. A cacophony of wretched smells assaulted him. He physically reacted to the horrific odor, recoiling deeper into the car’s luxury. A sigh climbed out from the depths of his stomach. His heart ached, as if broken, from the waves of despair and hopelessness washing through the neighborhood.
“Stop!” He yelled.
Peter slammed on the brakes. Squeals of rubbery protest erupted. With practiced skill Peter straightened the fishtailing car.
“What?” Peter growled. He jerked his head around to stare at Joshua. The others in the car frantically searched for the reason the car had slammed to a stop. “What is it? What did you see?” Peter gruffly questioned.
“Don’t you see them? They’re all lost.” Joshua searched his friends’ faces. Confusion furrowed their brows as they peered into the dimly lit darkness. Shaking their heads they returned Joshua’s gaze. Joshua ran a calloused hand through his dark hair. His friends’ blindness could be frustrating at times, but that was why He was here. To reveal what was hidden. Wrapping His fingers around the inside door handle, Joshua gave a quick pull. “Listen guys, I’m wiped out. You all go on to the store, get yourselves some food and drinks. I’ll hang out here and wait for you to get back.”
“Have you lost your mind?” Peter barked. “You don’t want to hang out here – this is the bad part of town!” His lips curled back, announcing Peter’s revulsion for the people wandering through the grungy neighborhood.
Joshua gave Peter a good-natured smack on the back. “I’ll be fine, Peter. You all go get the food. I’ll be sitting right over there.” Joshua pointed to a row of beat up metal stools sitting in front of neon lit building. Pulsing music escaped from the bowels of the building as the front door swung open to admit and release the bar’s stumbling patrons.
The partially burned out neon sign sizzled its invitation to those passing by on the garbage infested street. “The Well” was the establishment’s name. “Come in parched. Leave refreshed” was the tag line on the bubbling decals stuck haphazardly on the bar’s windows.
Joshua sunk His body into the far right rusted metal stool. He waved Peter and His friends on. “Go on! I’ll be hanging out here until you come back.” Peter’s body tensed in protest. “Peter, I’ll be fine.” Joshua assured His protective friend.
Peter’s foot eased off the brake, sliding over to push the accelerator towards the car’s floor. His eyes remained glued to the rearview mirror until he could no longer see Joshua’s reflection.
A quick look at His watch told Him that it was 12 o’clock – midnight. He was tired and thirsty.
Lustful catcalls and whistles filled the air. Cheap perfume tickled Joshua’s nose as a young woman sashayed past Him. Her short lipstick red mini-skirt barely covered her. A skin-tight indigo tube top left little to the imagination for the prying eyes. And there was no shortage of prying eyes outside The Well. Every male eye was glued to the scantily dressed woman. Stumbling, she righted herself kicking the beer can culprit with her three-inch spiked scarlet pumps. Using both hands she tugged her skirt back down to its absurdly indecent full length.
“Excuse me.” Joshua called out. “While you are in there, will you please get me a drink of water?”
The young woman almost fell over as she spun around on her spiked heel. She looked around to make sure that Joshua was speaking to her. It had been a long time since someone had spoken politely to her. She ran her eyes over Joshua’s neat suit and tie. “What’s an uptown guy like you doing talking to the likes of me? And asking me to get you a drink of water from The Well.” She looked around once more, checking to see if He was really talking to her. “Guys like you, don’t talk to girls like me.”
“Well, this Guy is talking to you.” Joshua confirmed. “Don’t you know that you don’t have to live like you’re living? What’s your name?” He gently inquired.
Self-consciously she tried to stretch the material of her mini-skirt to cover more of her legs. “It’s…Samari.” She muttered.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you Samari.” Joshua extended His hand towards the young woman.
She simply looked at His extended hand in confusion. “Now you shake it.” Joshua instructed.
“Is this some kind of a trick?” She questioned.
“No.” Joshua contradicted as she prepared to run inside. “No, Samari – I wanted you to shake my hand, that’s all.” He rose from the metal stool and stuck out his hand once again. I’m Joshua…Joshua Lord and it’s very nice to meet you…”
His formality forced a giggle from her lips. She gingerly stuck out her hand, placing it in Joshua’s hand. “I’m Samari…Samari Tan.” She imitated.
“Come with me Samari Tan.” Joshua offered. “I can help you change your life so that you never have to come back to The Well again. Let me give you what you need to change for real this time.”
“Change my life! That sounds awesome! Are you serious?” Samari’s voice rose excitedly. “Tell me what I have to do. I don’t want to have to come back to The Well ever again.” Disbelieving eyes searched Joshua’s compassion laden countenance for signs betrayal.
“Go call your husband and then come back.” Joshua instructed.
Samari’s makeup burdened eyes dropped to the broken concrete. “I don’t have a husband.”
“That’s the truth.” Joshua agreed. “You’ve married and divorced five times already. And now you’re living with this guy who isn’t your husband. You spoke the truth there.”
“What are you some kind of psychic?” Samari spat out. “So, I suppose I ain’t good enough for you to change my life now, huh?” Agitation reared its head in her tapping foot. “I’m just a stupid woman who doesn’t deserve a second chance, right?”
“You’ve got it all wrong Samari Tan.” Joshua countered. “You are exactly who I’ve come to change. Come hang out with Me. You’ll never be the same again. I’ll teach you to live differently. Nobody will call you names anymore. When they look at you they will see hope. The hope that they can be changed too!”
Samari believed His words. She didn’t know why she believed. She just did. “Are you the One?” She whispered. “They say that One is coming. When He arrives everything will be explained. The whole story is what we’ll get.”
“I Am.” Joshua replied. “No more waiting. I’m here.”
Car doors slammed. Footsteps approached. Shocked expressions were mirrored on the faces of Joshua’s friends. Reflections of disbelief, that their friend would be speaking publicly to that kind of woman. No one said a word. No one uttered their thoughts out loud, but their faces revealed their distaste.
Samari took one look at their faces and ran away as fast as her spiked heels would let her.
Her boyfriend was outside in the driveway of their pitiful hovel – that they called a house- tinkering with the engine of an old convertible. Quite a few of their neighbors were leaning against the car listening to a boom box. “Ya’ll have got to come back with me to The Well. There is a guy there who knows all the dirt on me. I didn’t tell him anything – He just knew everything from my past – all my dirty secrets. Do you think He could be the One?” Before Samari had finished talking the crowded drive was void of occupants. They had all headed for The Well to check out this guy for themselves.
Many of Samari Tan’s neighbors believed that Joshua was the One. They came to Him, believed in Him, and asked Him to change their lives. They believed in Him simply because of Samari’s words, “There is a guy there who knows all the dirt on me. I didn’t tell Him anything – He just knew everything from my past – all my dirty secrets.” Even more of her neighbors believed that he was the One after they spent some time with Him. These believers told Samari “We’re no longer taking your word for it. We’ve talked with Joshua ourselves. We know without a doubt that He is the One. He is the Savior of the world!”
Inspired by John 4:6-30, 39-42 (MSG).
Until next time blessings and healing