Before the Miracle

Far be it from me to not believe

even when my eyes can’t see.

And this mountain that’s in front of me

will be thrown into the depths of the sea.

We sing about moving mountains this morning.

About keeping our eyes on Jesus.

And here he is.

A crowd clamoring about, they’ve heard he’s healed the sick

Or seen if for themselves and they seek him out, needy.

Hungry.  (John 6)

The Bread of Life turns and asks his friends where they will get enough bread for everyone.

And we chuckle because we know how the rest of the story goes.

But I can feel Philip’s panic.

And Andrew’s floundering attempt to bring what they could find to Jesus.

They were just learning about this Bread.

I doubt I would have done any better.

And Jesus takes the bread, the tiny offering of a child.

And he gives thanks.

Eucharisteo.

A pocket of sacred space, of breathing gratitude.

And everyone eats and has enough.

Friends, did you see what preceded the miracle?

Gratitude.

I don’t know about you, but there are a few miracles I’m praying for in my own little world right now.

Mountains that seem too big.

Crowds that look too hungry.

I feel like I’ve been banging down the doors of heaven for release, for deliverance.

But this week, I’m going to take a step back.

Take a moment to remember that my resources are too small.

Laughably puny.

But my resources in the hands of a gracious, almighty and all-sufficient God are a completely different story.

This week, I’m going to leave a pocket of sacred space, of breathing gratitude.

This week, I am going to give thanks before the miracle.

Advertisements

Don’t be afraid. Just believe.

Friends, our God is in the business of bringing the dead back to life.

All through the Old Testament and in the life of Jesus, we see this again and again.

This, in fact, is the crux of the gospel message.

Jesus died so that we could live.

His invitation is not to make us better, but to breathe life into our dead souls.

There’s a story I read this week and it’s been knocking around in my head ever since.

I can’t shake the feeling that it’s not just for me.

It’s about a guy called Jairus.

His daughter is sick and he knows that Jesus can help, so he seeks him out. (Mark 5)

Jesus responds with compassion and starts the journey toward the sick little girl, but the crowd presses in, needy to a soul, and the trip takes longer than it might have.

Along the way, messengers bring word that the little girl has died.  Why bother Jesus any more?

And it’s these words that resonate hard for me this week.

The bringer-of-life, not too late but just on time, says to the devastated dad

Don’t be afraid.  Just believe.

And proceeds to breathe life into what was dead.

Friends, some of us have sought Jesus out and invited him to come, but along the way we feel like he’s gotten caught up in other things.  Bigger things, maybe.

And, like the messengers, someone or some circumstance or maybe the cynical voice inside our own heads has told us to give up.

On that dream.

On that spark of passion.

On that God-given desire.

On that gift lying dormant.

On that healing.

Let it go, the liar whispers, it’s dead.  Why bother Jesus any more?

Friends, he is just that– a liar.

Plug your ears to those words.

And hear the bringer-of-life, not too late but just on time whisper to your heart.

Don’t be afraid.  Just believe.

Our God is in the business of breathing life into what is dead.

And he wants to do that for some of us this week.

To rekindle that dream, to ignite that passion, to explode that desire into reality for his glory, to use that gift to speak life, to move us along on our journey toward wholeness.

It’s not too late.

You’re not too old.  Or too broken. Or too messy.  Or too cynical.

Our bringer-of-life is right on time.

Good Friday

Looking around on Good Friday, I want to see myself here.

Here in this ancient story.

Here in these words I’ve heard since before I was born.

Growing up in church, it’s easy to let this story, these words slide right on by

Assuming that we’ve heard it all before.

But though the story is old,

The Spirit is here, always here.

Breathing new life.

Speaking powerful truth still.

If we will pay attention.

Tonight I lock eyes with the thief on the cross.

And I see my story here too.

It’s a familiarity my younger self would have denied.

But not tonight.

My penalty is just, fair.

I’m getting what I deserve.

And right beside me, suffering the same penalty,

God wrapped in flesh.

Not deity identifying with humanity in some theoretical sense.

But a real, living, breathing God-man looking into my eyes.

Suffering with me.

Speaking words of life even as his breathing becomes heavy, his pain unbearable.

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses

No. Our high priest suffers with us.

He feels our pain because he is here.

And he promises redemption.

Not in some far-off, theoretical sense.

But now.

Today.

This is my story too.

A church-baby, never much of a rebel in any outward sense.

A pastor’s kid, living life in a fishbowl.

Some people say (to my face) that I don’t need much saving.

They are dead wrong.

When we lock eyes, I know without a doubt my desperate need for a Savior.

My desperate need to be spared what I deserve.

My heart-cry for redemption

Not in some far-off, theoretical sense.

But now.

Today.

I look into the eyes of the One speaking life even here.

Even in the darkest moments.

And I fall again on grace.