As a result of my commitment to Lent, I have been doing more Bible reading than I was doing previously. I have a plan that I am following so that is helping. As I read everyday and do a little art in my Lent journal.. God is revealing things to me. I sense that He is answering questions that I did not realize I had..opening up scripture in new ways. This should hardly be news to me since I have been a Bible reader for the last 38 years, but there have been seasons where I could not open it up and I felt dried up and lost. This short season has changed all that.. my spirit is being renewed by focusing on the Lord, His word, my art and desiring to change some bad habits and patterns that keep me from trusting Him fully. My faith feels stronger.. I have more hope and there are some answers to prayer that I believe are coming.
One of the passages that God used during this last week, was from the last chapter of John.. you know the one, where Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection and says ” Come and have breakfast.” I have always enjoyed the down to earth flavor of that passage. He fried fish for them.. no sermon.. just food and fellowship. In this same chapter He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter gets a little annoyed but says yes every time. What is this all about? Some people see it linked to Peter’s denial of Jesus.. since that happened three times. I can see that possibility, but I see much more. Jesus answered Peter three times.. He told Peter to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. Some translations say tend or shepherd my sheep. What does this mean? For me it means that if I love the Lord I am going to care for, encourage, and comfort His people. There can be no excuse for not doing this including disillusionment, cynicism, and old wounds. It was a word I needed to hear. Anyone who attends church and interacts with other believers long enough will have reasons for pulling away and licking their wounds. Yet if I am understanding this passage correctly, we don’t have that option. “IF YOU LOVE ME…Feed my sheep!” Wow.. I got it Lord and thanks for making it so clear:)
So grateful for a God that reveals Himself through the scriptures and that cares enough about us to communicate with each one of His sheep in a personal way.
The flip side of faith. I’ve been spending time in the gospel of John.. reading about how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. It is a powerful story. Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha were friends of Jesus. He spent time with them and shared His life with them. When Laz got sick, his sisters knew that Jesus could heal him so they sent Him a message. Jesus took His time getting back to Bethany where they were living. When he returned, Lazarus had died 4 days earlier.
As I read through this story, I saw things that I had never noticed before. From the beginning Jesus told the disciples that all this was happening so that God would be glorified. They completely missed the point. He knew exactly when to return and He was clear about the purpose of the whole event. The interesting thing is that when He saw Mary and all the others weeping.. He was angry. Did you ever notice that? Then He wept and then He was angry again.
What was happening? He was grieving.. not because Laz had died, but because of the way everyone interpreted His actions. Their desire was for Him to show up and heal..His plan was much greater.. He showed up and called Lazarus from the grave. Their unbelief was difficult for Him.. but He handled it by doing the one thing that would help them to understand who He truly was.. the son of the living God with the power to give life.
I came away from this passage feeling ashamed of my own unbelief and doubt. It was hard to see the broken heart of God in this story. All those around Jesus.. his closest friends did not see Him clearly. They underestimated Him..don’t we do the same thing? No matter how many times we see God move in our lives, we easily fall into unbelief, wondering if He will come through for us this time.
My heart was encouraged by seeing that He was willing to do whatever He needed to do..to help them remember His goodness. He is the same way with us.. never giving up and ready to show us His presence and His power by rescuing us over and over. He continues to reveal Himself to us.. just as He did over 2000 years ago. His love for us is unchanging and unending!!
“Even if we are not faithful, he will remain faithful. He must be true to himself. “