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A new year of my graduate education has begun. This past week has been filled with a great deal of reflection and wonder at all God has accomplished in me through this time. So much has happened, so much has changed, I have had so much to bring before Him as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. There has been a great deal of sorrow and pain and struggle. Learning to praise God in the midst of these times is truly a sacrifice He desires and longs for. To choose to praise God in the storm is surely one of the greatest statements of faith we can make – and one of the richest times of growth and intimacy with God our Father.

One of the assigned readings I have this term is the Gospel of Mark. This morning I read chapters 3 and 4. Here is some of what I have gleaned. I hope you will share your thoughts and insights as well.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Mark 3:5 (NLT)

In verse 21, Jesus’ family comes and tries to take Him away, saying He is crazy. In verse 31, His mother and brothers come and ask Him to leave His work and the crowd and come out to them. To which Jesus replies, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then He looked at those around Him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

His family thinks He’s crazy. The Pharisees think He is possessed by demons. His disciples seem to just be along for the ride, hoping for glory and fame in the coming revolution. Do you ever wonder where you would have stood had you been there? How about where you stand now?

The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”  Mark 4:38-41 (NLT)

Who is this man?

Indeed!

Am I just following, walking with, observing, serving, listening to, identifying with a cause, hoping to be recognized and promoted – all on the surface of my being? Or am I intentionally and deliberately hearing and surrendering to the presence and power of This Man in the details of who I am? When the storms come – and they will – when the waves threaten to capsize my safety – and they will – when I am certain my very life is in danger – and it will be – how do I respond? Do I yell at God and question His care an His provision and demand that He wake up? Or is there another possibility? Can I cease my own efforts, change my focus, and choose to rest with my Savior in the back of the boat, fully assured of His care, His love, His provision – preferring to be so identified with this One, this Beloved Son of God and Son of Man, that I will completely identify myself with Him in every detail of life and death – and resurrection?

I need to be reminded and to remember it is not my job to protect Jesus and get Him where He needs to be.  I don’t work for Him, I identify with Him and offer my self as a living sacrifice. He will provide, equip, and fulfill His plan in and through me as I receive from Him all His riches in glory!

All that is associated with the vibrancy of His Life is a gift of grace – fully paid for by Him on the cross.

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