Her life was one long slow-motion train wreck. Trouble and heartache seemed to follow her where ever she went. The depths of her inner emptiness dwarfed the Grand Canyon, while the river bed of her soul was a mere trickle compared to the Colorado River.
She had more lovers than Mountain Dew has flavors. Each new relationship brought a fresh glimmer of hope that she might finally find true love and acceptance. As she dragged bag of dirty garments to the laundromat at midnight on a rainy night, her soiled clothes were a fitting metaphor for her grief-stained heart.
As she switched loads, a man walked in the door who had a certain presence about him. Somehow she just knew she was not worthy of his company, yet his kind eyes and gentle smile put her at ease. Then he asked the woman for a strange favor.
“Would you mind sharing your bleach and get this stain out of my shirt for me?” the stranger asked.
The woman, quite shocked at this bold request, said, “You are clearly a man of importance in expensive clothes, and I am just a poor woman from the wrong side of the tracks. Why do you ask me for a favor?” (For such different people often avoided each other in this town.)
The man responded, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for this favor, you would have asked him and he would help you remove your own deeper stain.”
She put another coin in the machine and swallowed hard at his piercing words. A fluorescent bulb flickered in the corner as the man continued to speak with a warmth that lowered her defenses:
“Everyone who comes to this laundromat with soiled clothes will need to keep coming back weekly to wash. But whoever washes themselves with the cleansing water I give them will never be dirty again. They will be spotless and clean, inside and out, forevermore.”
With tears welling up in her eyes, the woman said to him, “Sir, give me this cleansing water so that I won’t feel dirty anymore.”
The man then took his expensive white shirt with the stain that somehow represented the brokenness of every human heart, he poured water into a basin, knelt down and began to wash the woman’s feet.
He said, “I know you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
A damn burst in her wounded heart, and tears cascaded down onto the man below as she said, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Sir, not just my feet!” And he did.
She had heard rumors all her life about the kind of grace and love this man was showing her, but she never felt clean enough to go to the places such cleansing was to be found. Her life was forever changed the night the Living Waters came looking for her in a lonely laundromat on the wrong side of the tracks at midnight in the pouring rain.
This is a modernized retelling of John 4 and John 13. MainStreet’s 2020 Vision is about bringing the healing ministry of Jesus beyond the church walls and out into the everyday places where people are going about their everyday lives. Thank God Jesus didn’t restrict his ministry to synagogue or Temple courts. Let the church go and do likewise.