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The God Who Reveals

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“The Father loves the Son and shows Him all He does.” (John 5:20a)

Why do we worry?  Often, it’s because we can’t see what God is doing, or even if he’s doing anything.

But in today’s red letter verse, Jesus said that God showed him all that he was doing.

And we think, “Man, that must have been nice.  Jesus was in the know.  He didn’t have to get all tied in knots, like we do.”

But what was it that Jesus saw God doing?  Did God literally show Jesus everything, so he knew exactly what God was doing at each point of time?

If we look Jesus’s life, we get the picture of someone who, by and large, was unaware of what might happen minute to minute.  One great example of this is when he was amazed at the faith of the centurion.  (Matt. 8:10)  He wasn’t expecting that.  He also didn’t seem to expect a crippled man to be lowered through the roof, or a woman to touch him in the crowd and be healed.

There were times when Jesus could see exactly how God was going to work.  When Lazarus was sick, Jesus knew that he would die and come back to life.  (John 11:4) Other times, though, I think that it wasn’t that Jesus saw with a clarity of what would happen, but that he saw with a clarity that God was present and engaged.  So Jesus could sleep in a boat during a storm, or face impossible situations like feeding 5,000 in a wasteland.  He could pray, and know he would receive what he needed, and thus live righteously and powerfully, and endure the trials of the cross.

So all of this brings us to the question, “Can we see like Jesus saw? How much is God showing us?”

The answer is super exciting, because our God is not remote, as are the gods others worship.  Our God wants us to know him.  He makes himself known.  He walked with Adam and Eve.  He interacted with Abraham.  He met Moses on the mountain, and gave him his will to pass on to his people. He showed himself to Elijah. He sent prophets who spoke his very words.

He gave us Jesus. That was the ultimate reveal.  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:18)  Jesus said, “Everything I have learned from My Father I have made known to you.”  (John 15:15b)

Isn’t this totally encouraging?  God shows us so much through his son.  And all we have to do is read the stories of Jesus to see how God operates.

Here are some other ways that God reveals himself:

  1. The scripture.  “The word of God is living and active.”  (Heb. 4:12) God gave us this incredible collection of scriptures that cause light bulbs to go off in our heads.  Whatever we’re struggling with, we can read or hear just the just the right verse, and it clicks.  It’s exactly what we need to hear.  The world makes a little more sense.  Everything doesn’t become clear all at once, but God definitely gives us glimpses that bring us peace and reassurance.
  2.  God’s works on earth.  “The Holy Spirit descended on [Jesus] in a bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.'” (Luke 3:22)  This verse is just one example of how Jesus saw God working. It wasn’t simply that it was Jesus’s nature to be faith filled.  He saw with spiritual eyes, and had a catalogue of ways God had acted that bolstered his faith.  Some of the ways occurred in the Old Testament.  But some, like the Holy Spirit coming on him and God’s voice being heard when he was baptized, happened during his lifetime.  We also can see with spiritual eyes, list times we’ve seen the supernatural at work in our lives, or around us, and this list can bolster our faith.
  3. The Spirit.But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”( John 16:13)  Jesus had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and as Christians, we have it as well.  In our prayers, we can be quiet and listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  We can listen for the voice of love, joy and peace, rather than the voice of fear and worry.  (See also I Cor. 2:12)
  4. In answer to prayer.  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.” (Eph 1:18a)   God can open our eyes so we can see him more clearly.

And do you know what’s really cool?  We can see God in ways that those in the past weren’t able to.  Paul wrote, “This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.”  (Col 1:26)   (See also Ephesians 3:3-6)

God has made so much of himself known.  So the next time you are tempted to worry, look for how God wants to show you all that he does.  Try at least one of the following:

  1. Read the Bible until something clicks.
  2. Write down something from the life of Jesus that can inspire you in your situation.
  3. List ways you have seen God work in the past.
  4. Pray, and make quiet space to listen to the Spirit. (If you’re hearing nothing, try writing down what you think God would write to you in a letter.)
  5. Pray for God to open your eyes to see better.

Remember that you may not be able to see exactly what God is doing, but you can have a clarity that God is with you, supporting and empowering you.

Take a deep breath and exhale.

God will help you see enough to walk with certainty through the things you can’t see.

(Photo Credit: DarkWorkX.)

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The Peace of Staying on Track

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Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing. . . ” John 5:19a

I love this passage!  I tend to run around, full of my own plans, trying to achieve all kinds of things.  At some point I feel like I’m spinning my wheels.  It takes a while, but I finally get it through my head that it’s only going to work if I’m in sync with God, doing his will.

So this verse means a lot to me, because it says that Jesus stayed in sync with God.  To use an analogy, instead of taking his own train, Jesus looked for God’s train, got on board and remained there.  Even if life changed tracks, or took him to another “station,” he kept his eye out for God’s car.

To be like Jesus, we need to keep our eye out for God.   For the last few months, I’ve been keeping a journal of what I see God doing.  I note when someone comes across my path, or visits church, or starts studying the Bible.  I note people who are going through significant transitions.  I write down the names of those who are experiencing challenges or illnesses.  It’s not that I think that God wants them to suffer.  But these can be opportunities for him to work, and shape character.

It really helps me to write these things down, because when I see what God is doing, I see how I can plan my time around that.  I reach out to those who are seeking him.  I visit the sick.  I schedule times with those who need support.  I pray for those in challenging circumstances.

If I don’t keep my eye out for God, I feel off.  I know there are needs around me, but I can’t get away from my agenda.

“He can only do what he sees his Father doing.”  It’s a great challenge for us to be more like Jesus in this.  And it helps us feel “on,” instead of off, when we do so.

But this verse has deeper applications.  How could Jesus stick to doing what he saw the Father doing?  What kept him from doing his own thing?

I really think Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing because he completely trusted who God was and what God did.

Jesus was the answer to the failings of man in the Garden of Eden.  In the story, God had just made the whole universe and it was good, reflecting the innate goodness of the Creator.  But man didn’t trust God’s goodness.  He felt like God was holding out on him.  And so, sin was born.

Jesus was the opposite of this.  He never sinned.  He never stepped outside of what God prescribed, even when he was being put to death, because he trusted in God’s goodness.

Can we do the same?  It’s hard for me to trust when things are going “wrong,” according to my perception.  I’m just so sure I know how it’s supposed to go. I get discouraged.

Reading “Healing of the Wounded Idealist” by Justin and Irene Renton shakes me loose of my faithless funks.  This book helps me to see that I need to be less of an idealist, who, “sets hope on a specific outcome,” and more of a faithful realist, who, “trusts that God knows better than you and that your plans, as visionary as they may be, might not be best.”  The faithful realist realizes, “There may be a better way.”

God always works towards the better way — his “good, pleasing and perfect will.”  (Romans 12:2)  He works towards a better way even when, maybe especially when, life takes us to the bleak places.

Jesus knew this, and that knowledge kept him on track.  I was given a wonderful example today of someone who lived this out, as I read Jeannie Shaw’s just published blog on the recent death of her husband, Wyndham, due to Multiple System Atrophy.

“As much as I hate this disease, God has walked with us through it all, and He has been enough,” she wrote.  “For this I am grateful.  It does me no good to ask why, though truthfully I often have. If I could understand all of God’s ways and how He sees beyond and works for good despite the evil in our fallen world he would not be God, for God is beyond the dimension of human understanding. There is nothing I can do about that except to surrender and trust. He is God and I am not. He remains a good, good God, with a perspective that is beyond my reach.”

Amen.  How could I say more?

Let’s trust more completely in the goodness of God.  Let’s take a deep breath, stop running around like crazy, and, instead, watch for God.  And when we see what he’s doing, let’s hop on board!

Sure, it’s scary.  Sure, it’s not what we thought.

But we can have a peaceful confidence, knowing that we’re on the right track.

(Photo credit Vladislav Vasnetsov )

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Finding the Rewards and Motivation

Already the reaper draws his wages and gathers a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together.  John 4:36

Here’s my mash up translation of this verse: Even now, the one who is doing the harvesting is receiving his paycheck, and what he’s harvesting is people brought to eternal life, so that the one who plants the seed and the one who harvests the crop can rejoice together.

It’s a pretty cool passage when you break it down.  Jesus speaks of a harvest that’s already taking place. Wait, when did this happen?  We were just reading about Nicodemus.  Now suddenly, we realize that Jesus has brought souls to eternal life!  And what a surprise, they’re Samaritan souls!  The woman at the well believed in Jesus, and spread the good news to her whole town.  They came to believe as well.

“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” . . . And many more believed because of His message. They said to the woman, “We now believe not only because of your words; we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man truly is the Savior of the world.” John 4:39, 41

Jesus also says that the one who does the harvesting is receiving a wage.  We know he’s referring to his disciples as the harvesters, because later in the passage he tells them, “I sent you to reap.”  But what is this compensation he’s talking about?

We can look at some other places in the Bible to give us clues.  In Matthew 10:10, when Jesus sent out his disciples to spread the good news, he told them to not take money to buy food, because “those who work deserve to be fed.”  God would make sure that their needs were provided for by the people they ministered to. So it could be that Jesus was saying that the harvester would be sustained by the providence of God as he did the work, and that would be his reward.

The “pay” also could be an intrensic reward.  It could be the satisfaction of doing the will of God.  This certainly was true for Jesus, as he said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

It could be the joy of bringing souls to eternal life. The verse goes on to say that the sower and reaper will rejoice together.  This is backed up when we look in Luke 10 at how the 72 disciples were sent out to minister. They returned with joy in their hearts.  Jesus told them, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Two initial takeaways from today’s reading.

What can we take away from today’s red letter passage?  First, will we be harvesters?  Jesus didn’t do much to set this harvest in motion.  He just cared about a woman. He just had a conversation.  We can do that too.

Second, will we see the harvesting process as rewarding?  There’s a reward we can experience now, because Jesus promises that those who seek the kingdom first will have their physical needs met.  (Matt. 6:33)  We can’t take it for granted if we have a place to live, clothes to wear, and food in our bellies!  These are perks we have because God is taking care of us.

But there’s also the reward of having a deep peace and satisfaction that comes from doing God’s will.  And there’s the reward of the joy we experience as our hearts burst in celebration when someone makes a decision for Christ.  Each new soul becomes dear to us, and we take the treasure of them into eternity.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy.  I Thes 2:20

Having the motivation to put this into practice.

How motivating are these rewards?  In life coaching, when someone wants to change a behavior, they have to have a proper incentive.  They can’t just say, “I’m think I’m going to start waking up early every day and exercizing.”  If they do, they’ll find themselves sleeping in!  Instead, they have to tell themselves, and believe that, “It’s so important to me to get into shape, that I will give up sleep for it.”

Sharing our faith has to become so important to us that we will push through and do it.  The rewards have to be a powerful incentive.  And for me, I admit, they haven’t been. I’m focused on too many other things that seem important to me.  And I don’t realize the magnitude of the reward.

I did a coaching workshop a few days ago, and I asked the participants, “At the end of your life, what would you regret not doing or spending more time on?”  When I asked myself that question, it was sobering.  One of the main things I would regret is not sharing the gospel with more people. That makes me realize that it truly is of top importance to me.  I just get distracted by day to day life.  Or I give into my fear of what people will think, or my love for comfort.

Just as I am trying to open my own eyes, I think that Jesus was trying to open his disciples’ eyes to the enormity of what they were doing.  After centuries of sowing, it was finally time to reap! God was bringing eternal life to souls, and the disciples were part of the process.  They needed to see that the labor of harvest was the best use of their time.  Everything else would fade away, but the work done in God’s field would last forever.

The real motivation and reward goes much deeper.

As I’ve thought of this over several days, I think that the real reward for being a harvester is much more than what I’ve written.  The real reward is that, as a follower of Christ, the harvesters were now living their new identity.

You know, if you don’t live out your identity, you feel unsettled.   You can pretend to be someone else, but sooner or later, you’re miserable.  But when you get your life in line with who you are, and what you value, you’re in the sweet spot.

So I think that living the life they were called to live was the greatest reward of the disciples.   Harvesting was their new groove, and they would feel most alive when they participated in it.  They had an exciting knowledge that was bubbling inside, waiting to be shared with others.  They had a light that was meant to shine, not be hidden under a basket. (Matt. 5:16) And shining for God would feel like the best thing ever.

It will feel like the best thing ever for us as well, if we can push through and live out our identity.  Let’s open our eyes to what’s really important to us.   Let’s realize and be motivated by the amazing rewards that are ours when we do the work.

And one day, we will have the greatest reward of all.  We will have treasures in heaven.  (Matt. 6:19-21) We will rejoice with the sowers over each soul from the field in which we labored.  It will be utterly sweet.

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and to lose his soul? (Mark 8:36)  

Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life.  John 6:27b

 

 

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When We’re “Running Out”

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why does this concern us?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  (John 2:1-4)

I can relate to this wedding dilemna! For my son’s rehearsal dinner, we put a lot of effort into making it really nice.  We held it at an upscale restaurant.  There were special decorations.  I created a video.  We planned activities.

The price of catering included wine for a certain period of time.  As the event went overtime, the maitre d’ came to my husband and whispered that if anyone wanted another drink, it would incur an extra charge.  It was a moment of counting the cost, because we were already spending a good deal of money.  But my husband was feeling joyful and magnanimous.  He said, “Sure, let them have more if they would like.”  It turned out that everyone had had enough, so it all worked out.

But the point is that we wanted the rehearsal dinner to be super special.  I’m sure the people in charge of the wedding at Cana felt the same.  For them, running out of wine in the middle of the celebration would have been a huge downer.

So it’s no wonder that Jesus’s mom stepped in to try and alleviate the situation.  She knew and cared about the young couple and their families.  She didn’t want them to experience this discouraging failure at the time that should be the biggest celebration of their life.

Mary didn’t think twice about going to Jesus and asking him for help.  And Jesus let her know that this request was uncool.  It was putting him out. It wasn’t his time to do miracles yet.

Yet, if we continue to read the story, we see that Jesus didn’t hold back.  He honored his mother’s request.  He used his powers and saved the day.

This story really helps my heart.   Sometimes I feel like I’m asking Jesus for something that is inappropriate.  I mean, he’s the Son of God.  My request is surely small next to the needs of the world.  It isn’t a salvation issue.  I’m not asking him to alleviate something grave like world hunger.   How can I bother Jesus with my little matter?  He has to have more important things on his agenda.

But this passage reminds me that Jesus cares about the day-to-day things going on in my life.  His heart was moved to help his mother.  I’m loved by him, and his heart can be moved to help me as well.

And in the story, Jesus didn’t just tell them how much he cared, or help in a token way.  He helped in a huge way.  He totally fixed it.

He performed a miracle. I’ve heard it so many times, that I forget how utterly amazing it is that Jesus changed water to wine.    I have a Brita pitcher of water on my kitchen counter right now.  If someone waved their hand over it and then poured me a cup of Burgundy, I would be astounded.  My heart would be racing.

That’s the kind of Savior we go to with our concerns.  We pray to God in his name.  He cares, and he has the power to fix them, no matter how impossible they seem.

So what are you running out of?  Okay, maybe it’s not wine.  But it could be money, or a another resource.  It could be time.   I confess that, lately, I’ve been running out of hope.

Several months ago, I put a situation on my prayer list that had been stuck for years.  For awhile, it got even more stuck.  But then one event occurred that was exactly what was needed to shake things up.  This led to more actions that really got the situation turned around. It has been amazing. The changes are still in progress, but, I’m telling you, it’s a true miracle!

Don’t think twice about taking your depleted situation to Jesus.  He loves you deeply!  You can ask, and his heart will be moved.  You won’t be inconveniencing him.  It’s not too small a request.  And if it’s in the scheme of God’s good will, Jesus won’t hold back. He’ll totally fix it.

Last night at our midweek house church, we ate fresh peach cobbler with ice cream, made from peaches I picked from my tree.  We didn’t study the Bible this time.  We just sat, and were close  and shared our lives with one another.  I felt such an atmosphere of love.

And I knew that this was a thumbnail of the warmth that Jesus has towards us — such a deep, encompassing, nurturing love.

When I think of it like that, I’m like, this is how we’re walking around in life.  We’re cushioned by love.  It’s natural to share our heart and requests with Jesus, and know that they will resonate with him and be honored.

Mary knew that was her reality.  Let’s remember that it’s ours as well.

 

 

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Seeing the Glory

“Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus said to him, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” Then He declared, “Truly, truly, I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  John 1:49-51

It seems like I’ve been praying like never before this week.  So many of my friends are going through really tough challenges — marriage difficulties, the death of a family member, a crisis regarding a loved one, impossible situations at work.

I have a little prayer box, and I keep putting more things in it.

Today’s passage speaks to this.  It describes how Nathanael reacted when Jesus told him that he was a true Israelite.   Nathanael could see the divine power behind this statement, and he declared that he believed that Jesus was the Son of God.

What’s really encouraging about this is Jesus’s response.  He told Nathanael that he would see heaven open and the angels going up and coming down.

Well, before we go on, we have to look at this mystifying image of the angels.  What did Jesus mean?  We don’t know.  We don’t have any record of Nathanael actually seeing this in the future.

But we do know that it’s probably a reference to Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28.

He (Jacob) had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and east and north and south. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” (Genesis 28:12)

The outcome of this story of Jacob was that God was going to bless everyone on earth through Jacob’s descendants.  This is a continuation of the promise God gave to Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham.  I believe that this promise is being fulfilled today as the gospel is being made known throughout the world.  Galatians 3 says, “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” (Galatians 3:7-8)  

Thus, it very well could be that Jesus was telling Nathanael that he would see the miracle of the gospel being spread to all nations.

It could also be a reference to Nathanael’s entrance to heaven when he died.  When Stephen was stoned in Acts 7 and about to perish, he said, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:56)  Jesus could be telling Nathanael that, as one of the first to have faith in the Son of God, he would have a similar vision when he passed away.

We don’t know.  But we do know that Jesus said that Nathanael would see something great and wonderful.  And I think the principle here is that because Nathanael was able to have faith in a small situation, he was going to see the glory of Christ.

And that is something that can encourage us.  If we can just have faith in the small things, we will be able to see glorious things.

It may be that we will see this glory as we see the gospel being spread in miraculous ways.  We will certainly see it when we get to heaven.

But maybe we will see the glory because faith allows us to live a glorious life.  Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  (John 14:12) I John 5:4 says, “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.”  And I love this verse, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.”  (II Cor 2:14)

Just being able to have faith in the small things makes such a difference. It helps us learn to have faith in the big things. And then God works in big ways.  And we see the world in a different way, that we’re not perpetually defeated, but, instead, part of something dynamic and thrilling and hopeful.

Earlier this week, a friend called me to unload about a difficult situation.   After we discussed it, we decided, rather than try and figure out a solution to the problem, to surrender it to God in prayer.  I put it in my “prayer box.”

The next day, she texted me and said that the situation had worked out.  It was a small miracle.

A day later, I heard about something that totally discouraged me.  I got a lump in my throat that was like a huge ugly ball, too big to swallow, too big to fit in my prayer box.

And I had to tell myself, “I believe Jesus is the Son of God.  This belief is my very core.  So I must surrender the unsurrenderable to him.”  And I’m trying to do that.

You know, as I reflect on this now, I realize that God works when we give things to him.  But we expect him to work while we’re still holding onto our concerns!  We have to have the faith to hand it over.

Nathanael took a step of faith. And Jesus said that he would see glory.

We need to take that step of faith, and then the next, and the next, even though they seem huge.  When we do, we will live a glorious life.

As I look over my gratitude journal this week, I see how true this is.  God did some wonderful things this week!  One friend had an amazing breakthrough.  I started studying the Bible with another friend, and it went so well!  God taught me truths that I was able to pass on to others to help them.  I could go on and on.

Jesus is the Son of God.  Our belief in that makes such a difference.

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The One Who Sees Us

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is no deceit.”

“How do You know me?” Nathanael asked.

Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  (John 1:47-48)

What moves my heart about this passage is how Jesus truly saw Nathanael.  He didn’t just check out his appearance.  He saw straight through to the inside of who Nathanael really was.

Jesus saw that Nathanael was a man of integrity, someone with a mindset to do the right thing, no matter what.

When Jesus expressed this, it was a goosebumps moment for Nathanael.  The future apostle realized that Jesus knew his core, the thing that motivated him and made him tick.

There are other instances in the Bible where Jesus was the one who saw.  In the story of the woman at the well, Jesus saw that the woman had gone through multiple marriages.  When Jesus went to the town of Nain, he saw how deep the loss of a son was to a widow, and was moved to help her.  When Jesus was at the Pool of Bethesda, he saw a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years and asked the insightful question, “Do you want to get well?”

Isn’t this what our heart longs for today?  One of my life coach instructors teaches that people are always asking, “Do you see me?”  We all so much want someone to “get” us.  I know when I talk to someone and they lean into me with their listening, it feels like an itch is finally being scratched.

Because sometimes I feel with others like we’re not speaking the same language.  I want to make a connection, but I don’t know the words.  I want to matter, but my efforts fall flat.

We probably all feel that way at times.  That’s why we need Jesus.  He’s the one who can understand our language.  He’s the one who sees straight through to the core of who we really are — what drives us, what we need, what makes our heart sing.  It’s a rare and wonderful thing.

We can realize that we’re not alone.  We’re never an island.

And we can know that because Jesus sees, his heart is moved, and he acts on our behalf.

When we go through inner pain and turmoil, he leans into us, and weeps with us.  There’s a communion that takes place.

I really like what Jeanie Shaw wrote about this in her blog today: “I am learning, in my relationship with God, that there is special sacredness in suffering and intimacy in infirmity.”

There can be intimacy, a closeness, in the midst of that thing that makes us feel most isolated.

Because Jesus is the one who sees.

You know, there’s so much in my life now that’s a testament to Jesus being the one who’s seen me, so many times when I’ve been given exactly what I needed.  Marrying my husband is exactly what I needed, as was joining my church, and having the jobs I’ve had.  Our move to Auburn ten years ago was exactly what I needed.  My recent study of life coaching is exactly what I need.

The question is, what is my response to this?

Here’s what Nathanael’s response was to Jesus: “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

Jesus sees us.  His heart is moved.  He acts.  This happens innumerably more times that we perceive.

But maybe, sometimes, we will get goosebumps, like Nathanael, and respond with faith, “You are the son of God.  Only the divine could do this.”

 

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The One Who Finds Us

The next day Jesus decided to set out for Galilee. Finding Philip, He told him, “Follow Me.” (John 1:43)

The cool thing about this passage is that Jesus found Philip.  He didn’t just come across him.  He actively looked for him until he located him.

Isn’t it amazing that we serve a Savior who searches for us?  It’s like we’re living out the story of the shepherd who left the ninety-nine sheep on the hill and went after the one who was lost.  (Matt 18:12-14)  I can look back and see how Jesus sought me; how he set up situations so I would encounter him.  One of my favorite verses has been, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”  (John 15:8a)

Does he still look for me?  Does he come to me in my whirlwind of “to-dos” and struggles and side roads, and say to me, “You’re getting off track. Come on. Remember. Follow me.”

I need to stop, and look into his eyes and hear his earnest call again, “I believe in you.  I have a purpose for you.  This is the way.”

Yes!  This is the way.  This is it!  That must be what Philip thought when Jesus called him.  Philip went right away and told his brother, Nathanael, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law, the One the prophets foretold.” (John 1:45)

Philip had the heart to recognize the call, and how momentous it was.  Can we say the same?

This past week the 50 members of our little church gave $14,000 in a special contribution that will enable our ministry to continue.  We were tremendously encouraged.  It is astounding that we were able to give that much.  It says something about the hearts of the members.  They believe in what we’re doing.  It resonates deeply with them.  What they gave was, in a sense, a response to the call of Jesus they heard.

“Follow me.”  When we get it, and do it, it feels glorious!

But many times, we don’t recognize the call.  Many times, we follow imperfectly.

You know, I think the reason Philip responded to the call was because he could see what Jesus was, instead of what Jesus wasn’t.  We know what Nathanael saw at first.  He asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  All Nathanael could think about was how Nazareth was so sketchy.

And we can be the same way.  We’re supposed to look at who Jesus is, but instead we look at all the things that are sketchy — “My marriage is struggling.  I lost my job.  I don’t have the money to pay my bills.  This didn’t turn out like I expected. That person upset me.”

And we feel muddled.  Sigh.  As I think about it, I know the good news is that Jesus still comes to find us.

I can see the evidence of Jesus’s search for me like a breadcrumb trail through this past week.   My friend, Kenonia, and I got together and prayed, and within a minute, the prayer was answered.  Our friends, the Johnsons, sent an email detailing their plans to come and encourage our church in a couple of weeks.  A young woman I studied the Bible with years ago texted me that she’s now studying the Bible again.  My daughter and her husband successfully navigated together the complicated decision of whether to buy a house.  One friend who has had some challenges told me they are now doing better.  Another friend was on the brink of failing nursing school, and told me she passed.  And, of course, our church raised $14,000!  So many prayers were answered!

It’s not that Jesus at one time went after us to save us, or that he occasionally shows up in our lives.  It’s that Jesus is ALWAYS looking for us and leaving evidence of who he is, and how much he cares.

Then, when he finally gets our attention, he says, “Follow me.” 

Will we hear?  Will we respond?

When we remember who he is, and how momentous is the call, we will.

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