Jesus is the face of God. That is what everyone is looking for.
We’re hungry to be seen. He knows you by name. He knows all about you.
We’re craving comfort. He is the Great Comforter, full of grace and peace.
We want acknowledgement. He gives it by dying on the cross for you.
We long to be understood. He knows everything about you, what makes you tick, how you think, the pain you feel, the rejection.
But what do we typically do? We turn away from God and turn toward other people and demand they give us what we want. That’s why marriages don’t work. Our jobs don’t satisfy. Our hobbies get boring. Our children become work instead of pleasure. Nothing we touch fills us.
It was never meant to.
The fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore are only found in Christ.
Until we realize it, we’re doomed to traveling in the wrong direction, where the gravel pits are, where there is no water.
Idols take everything, and give nothing back except pain and disappointment.
Only Jesus is the fountain of life.
What are you waiting for?
Talk to me.
but in other things like lovers, friends, hobbies, travel, power, money, you name it.
I got on the subway this morning and had an option of seats. To sit alone in a one seat with no seatmate or in a two-seat. I chose the one-seat. I could be alone and not have to accommodate anybody. Yay! Usually big, burly construction workers sit next to me leaving me with an inch to breathe. Not this morning. I was going to relax all the way into city. As soon as I sat down and settled my bags, I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me. “So. You don’t want to speak this morning about Christ?” Gulp. Before I could argue with him, I said, “Okay. I’ll move.”
So I did. At the next stop a young Asian woman sat next to me. So this must be who I’m supposed to talk to, I said to myself. She whipped out a cosmetic sponge with make-up on it, held up the dark screen of her iPhone as a mirror, and put her face on. (Note to self: iPhone screens make good mirrors in a pinch.) I began to read field reports from a missionary agency I support that take the gospel into unreached people groups. I was totally absorbed. When I finished, I looked and my seatmate was sound asleep. Must not be her then, I thought.
We arrived into the city and she woke up. It’s now or never, I said to myself. I pulled out a gospel of John and handed it to her.
“Would you receive this as a gift?” I said.
She looked at the booklet in bewilderment. “No,” she said.
“Have you ever read the bible?” I said.
She shook her head no.
“Try it, you might enjoy it. It changed my life,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll read it,” she said and took it. She got up and left the train at her stop.
I felt accomplished.
I was prepared to ignore the world this morning. That’s the truth. But the Holy Spirit is always on duty.
Talk to me.
Have you every wondered what Jesus experienced in the garden of Gethsemane? It certainly wasn’t about showing us how to pray better. Nor was it an example of humility for us to follow.
For Jesus it was about suffering. He suffered his whole life, as Isaiah tells us, from men and from devils. Judas, Peter and Satan himself.
The cross was going to be a level of suffering like no one had ever experienced before. It was where Jesus would receive from the hand of his Father all his wrath for sin. It would also be the place the Father would turn his back on Jesus and abandon him.
Think about that. It would be the first time in Jesus’s life where the Father would disengage with his Son.
Jesus did not die for God, he was no martyr. He died under God’s wrath, the justice of God being poured out on him for the sins of the world. It was at the cross that Jesus became responsible for sin. Yours and mine.
Knowing this, it moved Jesus to pray. He asked his closest friends – Peter, James and John – to pray with him so he would not be alone in his agony. But they failed him. They slept for sorrow because it finally dawned on them that he would not usher in their hopes for a restored Israel. Their dream was shattered. There was no crown for Jesus or for them. Instead there was a cross and death.
Jesus’s prayer included the removal of God’s wrath from him. He hoped for a reprieve. But no matter what, he was willing to submit to his Father’s will. What anchored him was the promise of the resurrection. This hope was Christ’s by right. He earned it. We don’t have that right, nor do we earn it. We have the same hope by faith.
Adam started in a garden that was a paradise, but then he ruined it. Jesus lived in a ruined world, and ended his life in an olive grove where olives were pressed to give their oil. A fitting location in preparation for the Second Adam to be crushed in order to restore us back to God and eventually to a new heavens and a new world.
Talk to me.
I got off the phone with a caller that never stopped talking. He’s someone I’ve never met and yet he felt the need to tell me about his life, never taking a breath to see if I was interested or even listening.
I’m sure you’ve had those experiences with people.
As much as that caller irritated me, I had to admit I had done the same thing over the years.
I’m a fix-it-all kinda person. You come to me with a problem and I have a solution for you and I’m happy to tell you about it.
Don’t we all.
I’ve realized over the years that maybe that’s not what people really need. Maybe it’s something else.
Maybe Jesus is calling us to a different kind of help. Help as in listening to the person. We’re so prone to listen with a mind that is more attentive to what to say next to the person. We miss the cues, the body language and facial expressions that way.
Even more importantly, we miss what God is showing us about himself in that person’s life.
I often forget that when someone asks for my counsel, she comes to me with Jesus in her life. It’s my job to listen well. I’m quick to fix, he’s not. I want to come across as helpful, when Jesus is already her helper.
What people need most of all is someone who will listen to them with a full heart that is not rushed, and who can help locate God in their lives so they can rest in him. This won’t happen if we’re preoccupied with what to say next, or if we’re in a hurry to get the visit over with.
We all need to enroll in the school of active listening. I know I do.
Talk to me.
I spend a lot of time counseling people with problems. The nature of what I do requires a fair amount of talking. Giving counsel and encouragement has become a way of life for me over the years.
Every once in a while however, something different happens. Like today.
Polly calls me every month. She is a woman with learning disabilities. She admits to not being able to follow directions or retain information. Consequently she’s unable to hold down a job.
Today was another one of those calls.
She told me she was being evicted and needed another place to live.
She exhausted that theme, and then launched into describing the conflicts she was having with her older sister.
She spoke for twenty minutes.
When she finished, I prayed for her.
“Thank you. You are a delight to talk to,” Polly said and hung up.
I had said nothing to her. All I did was listen.
And then this thought came to me, maybe from the Holy Spirit.
“You showed more grace and love in your listening than anything you could have said.”
It made me think.
Perhaps the Lord would make more of an impact on people through my silence.
Most people don’t want to be fixed.
They want to be loved.
What do you think? Leave me a comment.