Dr. Tonya Lyons drew upon John 4:7-15 for her fresh-look sermon of the woman who meets Jesus at the well. (Photo: Tyrone P. Easley)

Monumental Baptist Church’s weekly “Prayer, Power, Praise” podcast featured a uniquely gifted minister last Saturday (Jan. 30) morning.

Dr. Tonya Lyons is a minister, however, many Memphians will also know her as a dentist and owner of New Image Smiles in the Hickory Hill community.

Posts during the live stream of her 37-minute sermon showed that the message was resonating with many, both men and women.

“I know something about needing Jesus to reach down and pick me up,” said Lyons. “Many people know my story. It’s all in my book. And boy, do I have a story to tell.”

Lyons’ sermon topic, “Holy Hydration,” comes from John 4:7-15, and takes a fresh look of the woman who meets Jesus at the well. Lyon identifies with the woman through her own personal experience.

“This woman has a bad reputation among the townspeople,” said Lyons. “She is morally bankrupt. Jesus meets her at the well. Was it an accidental meeting? I think not.”

Lyons spoke later about how she understands what “this woman” must have been going through.

“In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Lyons said. “I was, at that time, first lady of Solid Rock Christian Church. My last name was Anderson. Well, my husband left me immediately. I lost my husband and my pastor on the same day.”

Lyons said it was a time of great sorrow. She felt alone and abandoned, that she had lost everything that mattered to her.

“And just when things seemed they couldn’t get worse for me, my husband got married 63 days after the divorce became final,” said Lyons. “I suffered through breast cancer and a divorce all at once. So, I understand what it feels like to need the living water that Jesus gives because you’re at your lowest point.”

Like the Biblical character in this passage, Lyons finds that “the real truth” of Jesus is that He will come seeking for those who have lost their way.

“Nicodemus came looking for Jesus to inquire of him in the night,” said Lyons. “He had some questions for Jesus. But in the very next chapter, Jesus comes looking for a woman who had come to the well. It is one of the longest conversations that Jesus has with anyone. He is the Good Shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.”

Lyons contends that the well represents a place where people find temporary fulfillment.

“We all have a well,” said Lyons. “A well is a place where one can find temporary life, but not living water. For some, it may be weed, or sex, or prescription pills. For me, it is chocolate cake. That is my well. Don’t judge me.”

Lyons is an 11-year cancer survivor, and a happy, healthy mother, minister and dentist today.

“It took my ex-husband 11 years to apologize to me,” Lyons said. “Eleven years, but that’s OK. Now, I’m waiting for the man God has for me – my Boaz.”

Boaz is the rich man in Israel, who chose Ruth to be his wife. Her husband had died young, and she refused to leave her mother-in-law, Ruth, to return to her people, the Moabites. She takes care of Naomi by gleaning in the fields of the rich, and God rewards her with Boaz as a new husband because of her faithfulness.

“I have prayed and asked the Lord to please send me the man that He wants me to have,” said Lyons. “I tell my friends, ‘Just wait on God.’ I wouldn’t want to have married just somebody who came along, and then meet a man later who I perceive the Lord had for me. That would be tragic.”

Lyons has been practicing dentistry for 27 years. She is a member of Limit Breaker Church, where the Rev. Donald Walker is pastor.