Friday, April 29, 2011

How will they know Him?

       When my oldest daughter, Abigail, was less than a year old, I felt overwhelmed by the task of raising this little girl to know and love Jesus. It was my most earnest desire as a mother, but I felt a bit daunted by the weight of significance.

       At that time, we had a young man named Caleb living with us. I felt the Lord ask me “How does Abigail know Caleb?” She, of course, knew Caleb because he lived in our house. She saw him every day, she heard our conversations with him, she observed our interaction with him, she talked with him and played with him. His mere presence in our home meant that it would be pretty difficult for her not to know him. Of course, her knowledge of him and relationship with him differed from ours, since in her youth she lacked understanding in some of the things that we adults could know about one another. But nonetheless, she knew him, as well as she could know anyone, simply by living with him.

       I felt the Lord encouraging me that what I am longing to see in my children in terms of knowing and loving God will not be primarily a matter of “teaching” her to know the Lord, but mostly the result of simply living in His presence. If His Spirit is truly filling our hearts, if we talk with Him daily, if we tell the stories of all the things He’s done throughout history (even before we were born), if we reminisce about special times we’ve shared with Him…then He will be as real to her, and as knowable, as any other person who resides in our home.

       I was simultaneously encouraged and challenged by that invitation, and I think I’m feeling that same kind of longing right now. I’ve been thinking about the humanity and divinity of Jesus a lot lately. I am hungry to know Him – to really, really know Him. “From Patmos” (learn about it here; or watch it here) gave such a tangible picture of Jesus in the flesh – a man who was knowable, just like I know any other friend. I want that longing for the Messiah to come (again), and that awe and joy and confidence that the Messiah is my friend. Is He really as tangible to me as the people I can reach out and touch with my hands? I know He is a person, not a collection of ideas, but am I really engaging with Him on that level on a moment by moment basis?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

     Jesus is Alive! We have reason to celebrate! I hope that you, dear visitor to my little blog, know the hope that is found in Jesus.
     God Himself, come to dwell with men in the flesh, has defeated sin and death and showed us perfectly the character of God. The Servant King, the Holy One, humbled Himself even to the point of willingly submitting to death. He didn't submit just to the idea of death (as in death as a result of the breakdown of the human body over time) but specifically a form of death intended to torture and humiliate (the cross). But He is not defeated. He is Risen! He really died, and he really was resurrected. After defeating death, His physical, resurrected body walked on the earth, among many witnesses. He now dwells in heaven with the Father, and He will come again to the earth to establish His kingdom.
     One very real day to come, every knee will bow (including your own) and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. This won't be spiritual knees in some ethereal fantasy land. You, my friend, will have a body on that day, and you will bow before the King of the universe.

     He desires that you know Him and worship Him now, in your brief life on the earth. By His very real death and resurrection, He has made the way for you to have True Life. To know God and be transformed into His image. You do not have to be a slave to sin!
     This is what we celebrate today.

    An egg hunt might seem like a silly way to celebrate, but there is something to be found in the symbols of searching , finding hidden treasure, within eggs (representing new life), and the opening of that egg to find a surprise gift waiting inside (like discovering the open tomb, and the surprise gift of the resurrection of the Messiah).

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Bread of Life

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, 
and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

I didn’t get to spend time sitting with my bible yesterday, but the Lord totally spoke to me while I was working with Abigail on her Bible homework. It was a good reminder that giving myself to the Word doesn’t have to follow a certain comfortable and familiar formula (i.e. me + bible + comfy chair (+warm drink if possible)) For her class each week we memorize a verse and do some meditation time. While we were meditating, the Lord gave me this picture:

     I saw Jesus standing in front of a vast, endless ocean of loaves of bread. He was smiling. Large, hefty loaves of bread were piled up behind him, and they went as far as I could see, out to the horizon. I knew it was showing His inexhaustible resources. I was struck with the understanding that the supply needed to be inexhaustible, because we need to continually be fed from His hand. The elimination of hunger that resulted was not because of some magical quality within the bread. In other words, it was the coming to Jesus that resulted in being filled and hunger being satisfied. This was not a matter of acquiring something that would once and for all bring satisfaction. Being fed was a natural result of coming to Him, but once having been fed we were not then able to walk away without experiencing that same gnawing hunger once again.

     I knew there were many people before Him, but I only saw one person, right at His feet. I felt this was speaking to Jesus’ intimate knowledge of the needs of each one who came to Him, and the way He tenderly cares for each one of us. He was not simply tossing food into the hungry masses. He was personally and intimately providing exactly the nourishment that was needed for that specific person at that precise moment.

     I had a brief picture of Jesus turning around to the immense pile of loaves and searching for a specific loaf, but I knew in an instant that this was a picture of my own distorted understanding of His ways, and not the true nature of what God was showing me. I asked the Lord for understanding, and I saw the searching through loaves as somehow representing Jesus looking for a thing outside of Himself to give. I saw myself flipping through my bible, looking for just the right verse that would really speak to me in the moment. It was as though I was identifying the “bread of life” that quenches hunger as being embodied within a specific encouraging word, a scripture, an impression, etc. I was seeing His perfection of knowing of me and his perfect resource as being hindered by a delay in connecting me with just the right “thing” that would satisfy.

     Suddenly I was looking at him again, and He was shining brighter than before. Whereas before the sense was of a room full of light, where He was out of place, this time the light was clearly emanating from Him. He was luminescent. He began to reach his hands into his own belly, and as He did the ocean of bread disappeared from behind Him and the most intense light I’ve ever seen burst out from the place where He reached inside Himself. I instantly knew that the bread He was giving was not simply available to Him to give, it was within and of Him. He Himself is the bread of life. We are nourished by His very essence, His character. In coming to Him we receive of Him, and this alone is the bread that satisfies.

     He was meeting the very specific needs and satisfying every cry of hunger within those who came to Him, but it was not by means of anything external to Himself. He reached inside Himself and from within came forth what was needed to give life. Now, I don’t mean that what He gave was the same for each person from that point on. There was still distinction in what He gave. But there was no hesitation, no searching, no pondering what would be needed, and nothing added apart from what He Himself was. He simply gazed lovingly in the eyes of the one before Him, reached into Himself, and brought forth exactly what was right.