Open Hands and Hearts . . . in Jesus

Such deep deep mercy Christ has for us. I was just so sunk in that mirey clay today, when Jesus said to me: read John 6. I cried – verses 35-40 are my life verses – and again His Promise never to let me go (MSG version), never to cast me out (most other versions) and never to lose me so reassured my heart, but somehow what spoke so deeply to my heart today was verse 21 (HCSB) – that:

at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading

I think the disciples were tired of waiting. It was late and getting dark, and so they headed to Capernaum – without Jesus. I wonder if they felt forsaken by Jesus, who had gone off alone (to get away from those who wished to crown him King and most likely to seek His Father’s face in prayer). I wonder if that’s also why they left without Him.

Perhaps their hearts were hardened in pain and distrust at waiting and Jesus not showing up “in time” (according to their human fathoming). But just look at what GRACE meets them in their weakness – even as they have gone on ahead without their Savior in their own strength and understanding, believing they had to now fend for themselves – a storm that stops them, a Savior who walks toward them on the churning sea (of accusations) and who turns that churning sea of wrath into a sea of mercy:

at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading

So, it’s not that they were headed the wrong direction, it’s that they were going about it the wrong way (method). Their human understanding told them:

– there is just NO more time to rest (hey, it’s kinda dark, you know, shouldn’t we be heading home by now, Jesus? Where are YOU?!)

– I guess now we have to travel on alone, in our own strength now, because Jesus is not back yet.

Their human thinking – most likely fed by their human and fleshly weaknesses of pride, unbelief, weariness, distrust and impatience – meant they were now traveling in their own strength, weary and discouraged, without their beloved Jesus at their side. So, what does Jesus do to show them who their Father is and what He is like? Does He let them carry on weary and discouraged in their own strength and without Him? Or does He set about to punish them for their weakness and sinful striving?

No! He – who controls the wind, let’s the sea begin to churn. He raises up a barrier – which incidentally is an alternate meaning of the Word “sufficient” from God’s Word to Paul, when he asked God to remove the thorn of Satan in his side. God refused to, saying to Paul: “my grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So what if that churning sea was in fact God’s way of making sure the disciples wouldn’t get to shore alone, discouraged and weary – but with Him, encouraged and empowered by Him.

He takes away their transgression (of abandoning Him and going it alone), wiping away their fear of punishment, by meeting them in mercy. He walks toward them, stills their fear, in so doing leads them to invite Him into the boat with them. And if that wasn’t enough, He completes the journey for them (no more weary striving, thank You, Jesus!). In all of this I hear Him say to us today:

I know your hearts. I know you love me. I know just how weary and discouraged and afraid you are. And I want you to know I am not upset, disappointed in you or angry at you but FULL of compassion for you- because I have felt and feel everything you do too and more – and yet sinned not. I did what you never could – I rested in My Papa, in His timing and in His will – for you. So that now, through the Cross and My Spirit breath in you, you might walk in Me – in the Way, the Truth and the Life – as I reveal My all-sufficient grace for you and all.

Yes, as my brother Peter said: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.

And there is my verse I prayed this morning – from a place of weariness, discouragement and pride. And look what my Jesus did – He lifted up the warm bread of His Word (Himself) for me in thanks to His Father, broke His Body on that Cross for me to feed Himself to me – filling my heart with the truth, the life and my good and perfect way to walk.

Jesus has done it for us – gone to His Papa, where He now intercedes before His Father – our Father – on our behalf for ever more. He now meets us in every place our hearts are troubled and become hardened in sin, fear and pain.

I could cry because in my discouragement today Jesus reminded me of my dream from last night. It left me so in awe. I suddenly saw how my very wrestling is in fact Christ’s intercession. My heart aches for my loved ones to know Him, and I saw this unfolding in the dream, and yet now I see that Christ’s heart in me aches not just for my loved ones to know Him, but for me to know Him too – in and through all the intercession.

In my own wrestling with unbelief, I am finding Jesus over and over standing up for me to declare His faith for me. Whenever I have wanted to throw in the towel in my discouragement, He has taken ahold of my heart and my pen – leading me to wrestle with Him, even when I haven’t felt like it. And there His Voice has arisen for me. And that’s what I saw happening in my dream- for my loved ones too.

In every prideful, self-led, weary and discouraged prayer, where like the disciples I have gone on alone, without Jesus, God has purposely permitted Satan to stir up a STORM – as Satan has accused me of not being worthy of Jesus showing up “on time” for me and my loved ones, as Satan has pointed out my past as proof of God’s need to now punish me, by deserting me. But every time that very storm of accusations has only raised up a barrier to usher me into the all-sufficient grace of my Jesus, as Jesus has come walking toward me on that churning water saying: “It is I. Don’t be afraid!”. Yes, every storm – every thorn in my side – has been sent to stop me from going it alone, weary and discouraged, believing Jesus has left me to fend for myself.

For, Jesus keeps taking what the enemy sends to hurt me, to root me ever deeper in His love and His grace. He sets Himself before me through His Word and leads me to take a hold of His hand, to invite Him into the boat with me and to let Him complete my and my loved ones’ journey, through His all-sufficient doing for us at the Cross. It is He who is leading me and my loved ones successfully across to the other side, as He makes Himself known to us and through us to one another.

Now may we all see Jesus continue to meet us in our wrestling, whatever multi-colored trials surround us today and in the days to come – just as He has promised us He will. May we see Him prove Himself in us, as He reveals His glory.

John 6: 16 – 21 (HCSB) 16 When(R) evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum.(S) Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. 19 After they had rowed about three or four miles,[c] they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid.

20 But He said to them, “It is I.[d](T) Don’t be afraid!” 21 Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.

Thank You, thank You, thank You, Jesus, for Your everlasting love for us ALL:

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