The Power of PERSONAL Experience!

*An excerpt from Adult Coloring Bible Study: Faith Sprinkles

Focus Verses 
John 4: 39-42 NKJV 39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.  42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” 

This chapter of John is providing us with details about the early ministry of Jesus. Jesus is traveling in and around Jerusalem preaching the message of the kingdom. In this chapter, Jesus is traveling through Samaria. At this point, the Samaritans are considered outsiders to all other Jewish people. Most Jewish travelers would not even step foot in the land of Samaria, but Jesus did.  He not only stepped foot there, but he also conversed with the Samarians.  
One of these conversations is documented for us in our focus verses for today. In these verses, a Samaritan woman comes to draw water from a well. Jesus is resting at this well. Upon seeing her approach, Jesus acknowledges her and asks her for a drink of water. Even though this is the first time that Jesus has ever met this Samaritan woman, because he is Christ - he miraculously knows everything about her!   
Because of this, the woman’s eyes are opened in faith and she instantly believes in Jesus.  She leaves the well and begins to share the good news of Christ.  Upon hearing this woman’s testimony, many Samaritans came to believe in Jesus.  More still come to believe after they come and meet Christ Jesus for themselves. 

 Focus Words: 
Believed - to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ) 
Heard - I hear, listen, comprehend by hearing; pass: is heard, reported. 
Know - I know, remember.  Appreciate
Connection to Us
Notice the last part of our scripture for today, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”” 
These words really hit home.  For me (and many of us) I needed to experience the love and forgiveness of Jesus for myself before I truly believed in him.  I grew up in the church.  I listened and watched others in my church family speak about grace, but until I personally hit rock bottom and approached Jesus for myself, I did not truly understand. 
My personal experience with Christ reminded me of my personal experience (or lack thereof) with exercise.  Bear with me as I make a light-hearted, yet hopefully meaningful, connection between a personal encounter with Jesus and a personal engagement with exercise.  
The point I hope to make through this connection is this - Neither Jesus nor exercise will change us in any way unless we actually have a personal experience!  
Let me explain through a personal narrative: 
On a side note:  I know that am NOT alone in my failed “fitness quest” states: 
“Americans spend between 40 and 50 billion dollars annually on weight loss.”  
Leslie and Her Never-ending Exercise Plans
This is the beginning of yet another summer vacation for me.  I have been an elementary school teacher for the past 18 years and I absolutely LOVE the summertime!  I enter each new summer break with BIG plans and BIG goals.  Those goals are normally centered around my health.   
I tend to spend lots of my time THINKING about working out.  I come up with exercise game plans, I buy cute new work-out outfits, and I search Google looking for the PERFECT muscle-building regime!!!  I somehow FEEL healthier simply by doing the PLANNING!!!!  
By watching the snippets of the exercise DVDs and READING about how OTHERS found success USING these programs I momentarily FEEL like I have achieved something!!!! 
What happens next probably won't surprise many of you.  After all the planning and preparing, I typically don’t follow-through with the actual EXERCISING part of the plan.  
Because of this I sadly do not ever EXPERIENCE any CHANGE! Even though I FELT healthier momentarily by THINKING about getting active, I did not actually GET any healthier!!!!  At the end of each summer I am usually still EXACTLY the SAME.   
I usually have some cool new work-out items, but I am typically not one bit healthier! UUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!! 
This summer WILL BE the SUMMER!!!!  I WILL DO THIS!!!!!  As a first step, I ordered an exercise DVD from Amazon today.  I plan this week to get me a cute new exercise outfit. GAME ON SUMMERTIME!!!!  This time I will finish VICTORIOUS! ;) 
As I ordered my DVD I had a realization....... 
Just as we HAVE to PERSONALLY EXPERIENCE the act of EXERCISING for it to actually CHANGE us, we have to ALSO PERSONALLY EXPERIENCE God's LOVE and FORGIVENESS for IT to CHANGE US!!!!! 
Experiencing IT for OURSELVES is VITAL!!!! 
Think about it for a moment:  I WAS NOT changed by WATCHING other people exercise on the DVD snippets, 
in the same way, we are not CHANGED by simply WATCHING others experience God's love. 
We HAVE TO MAKE HIS LOVE OUR OWN.  We must encounter GOD PERSONALLY for Him to actually CHANGE US!!!!!! 
I am also going to CONNECT this with parenting..... 
Recently I have heard many worried parents of teenagers and young adults discuss the fact that their children seem to be "drifting" from God.  This is scary for a parent.  We ALL want the best for our children!  We WANT them to have DEEP meaningful relationships with God!  We LOVE THEM!!!  We worry about them!  We don't want them to EVER hurt or stumble. 
The more I reflect on this the more I realize that sometimes our children may need to stumble and hurt......... 
My reason comes from this thought: 
For our children’s faith to be GENUINE, they may need to "test" it occasionally.  Their relationship with God cannot be based on our faith or experiences with God.  Our sons and daughters MUST personally EXPERIENCE God for themselves!  This PERSONAL EXPERIENCE is needed. Remember, we CAN'T get HEALTHIER just by WATCHING exercises DVDs, and our children CAN'T grow STRONGER in faith just from drawing from OUR FAITH! 
Think about YOUR personal relationship with God.  How did it DEVELOP? How did it GROW STRONGER?  If you are like me, you may have had to LOOK in all the WRONG places before you REALIZED how much you PERSONALLY NEEDED GOD! 
It took my various stumbles and pain for me to REALIZE just how desperately I NEEDED GOD.  I had to finally admit that I did need My Heavenly Father to CHANGE ME!   I had seen the faith of my mom and others, and I appreciated it, BUT, their faith did not CHANGE me! 
I had to EXPERIENCE God's LOVE for me myself before I was genuinely CHANGED!!! KEEP LOVING YOUR CHILD!  KEEP PRAYING!!!!  This season may be difficult, BUT it is just a SEASON!!!! 
Our children may just leave this season STRONGER, HEALTHIER, and EVEN CLOSER to God than ever before.

What are your thoughts?

Here is an art page for you to color as you sit and reflect on today's scripture: