...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Monday, November 15, 2010

From Water to Wine

Disclaimer: as I have tried to write this post for the past two weeks I have fought more with my husband than any time in the last two months! I could just hear the enemy whispering in my ear, "How can you write about sacrificial love? You can't write about what you don't practice!" So with much fear and trepidation I defy the enemy and offer these humble thoughts that I need more than anyone else does. I don't write from the standpoint of victory- but of faith that God's truth is God's truth, no matter what.

The sun sat just above the trees, …the music had played, …the mother of bride had cried,… and now the minister spoke, “Jesus, Himself went to a wedding, and blessed it with the first miracle, of changing water into wine.”

We have been to many weddings in the past few years. I have often heard this miracle mentioned when the minister speaks to the new couple. But as I sat at this wedding I had a totally new thought and realization of a deeper meaning in the picture this story paints for us.

Scripture is that way- so deep and layered and meaningful. Even a Scripture we have read and heard multiple times has more to teach us. It IS living and active.

The story of Jesus’ first miracle is found in John 2:1-10 and is a familiar story.

Jesus goes to a wedding and the wine runs out so His mother asks Him to fix the problem, because moms want to fix problems- even other peoples’ problems.

When Jesus has the servants fill the water jars with water I wonder what everyone was thinking? This was not the obvious solution to the dilemma. These were not even water jars for holding drinking water. They were special jars for holding water for purification.

The wine that came from the water that was poured into the purification jars was of excellent quality- the steward called it “the good wine”. The word for “good” can also mean choice and exceptional. Not the everyday wine. Not the cheap stuff, but the kind that is reserved for special occasions.

As I watched these two precious souls entrust themselves to each other I was struck that when we come to the marriage altar we bring our love for the other person and our good intentions. But that love is really an offering of water.

It gets poured into each others’ lives, but as all long-timed married couples know, the love you bring to the wedding, while wonderful and warm and lovely, will never be enough to get you through a lifetime of good days and bad days, of gains and losses, of triumphs and tragedies.

For that, your love must be transformed and multiplied. It must become the kind that is more about giving than getting.

It must become the kind that can bear all things.

That can believe all things.

That can hope all things.

That can endure all things.

But now we are no longer talking about a natural kind of love. Now we are talking about a supernatural kind of love. We are talking about a purified love.

What our love needs is a purification jar and Jesus.

In a recent ministry letter, a teacher I deeply admire, Dwight Pryor (www.jcstudies.com), wrote this about marriage:

Far more important than falling in love is the biblical mandate of growing in love, one toward the other. Only then can the highest goal of marriage be achieved: not satisfying personal desires, but sanctifying the name of God. If all this sounds more sacrificial than sensational, it should. Authentic love is never self-serving.”

Most of the “love” that we see in the movies coming from Hollywood is about what you get, not what you give. About if you are satisfied, not if you serve another. About finding “the one”, not about being “the one”. About finding a “soul mate”, instead of bringing to your marriage a soul satisfied and completed by Jesus.

So how do we move from self-serving love to authentic love?

Jesus speaks to us how we are to love one another:

Luke 6:32, 35: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them...But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back.”

John 13:34: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

I John 4:19: We love, because He first loved us.

In other words, we need to have a love that moves from water to wine.

The water kind of love continually needs to be drank over and over because it does not satisfy for long- so it continues to look for ways to be fulfilled. Instead, what the water kind of love needs is to be poured in the purification jars and be miraculously transformed by the Lord who not only is the only One who can work the miracle, but also the One who showed us what sacrificial, authentic love is all about.

So the next time you feel your “cheap wine” love running out,

and when all you have to bring to replenish the wine with is water,

then give it to Jesus and let Him transform it into love of exceptional quality…into authentic love…into the “good stuff”.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Blind Man's Bluff

“Over here, over here!”

“No, not that way, this way. Come this way!”

I hated being the one in the middle in the childhood game, Blind Man’s Bluff. It seemed impossible to ever catch anyone as they had the advantage of sight and I had no advantage at all. It always felt like I would almost tag someone, and then they would avoid my grasp at just the last moment.

But now I am a grown-up and I don't play blind man's bluff anymore, and yet...

As I was trying to go to sleep several nights ago I was feeling much like the child in the middle of the circle, blindfolded and stumbling, only this time it was not playmates surrounding and mocking me. Rather it was tasks and needs and projects and work undone that danced around me, just out of reach. It was if I could see what needed to be done but could just not figure out how or when to do it all. It was all just beyond my grasp.

And the more I tried to figure it out, the more out of reach, the more difficult, the more impossible it all seemed. So I did the most effective thing I could think of at the time- fret and worry and complain. As I blindly tried to get a hold of something, ...anything..., in the middle of all that cacophony of noise, suddenly there was something else, notable for its stillness and quietness; it was the Voice:

I am right here.

Grab on to Me.

Could it really be that easy?

I grabbed.

Onto the Hand that is sure and steadfast and everlasting.

And peace settled down over me as I lay in my bed. My wakefulness and fretfulness subsided as I drifted off to sleep in the arms of my Savior.

And nothing was figured out.

And nothing was solved.

And nothing was fixed.

And all was right in the arms of my Lord.

Psalm 4:8:

I will lie down and sleep peacefully, for you, Lord, make me safe and secure.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Stand

by Susan Macias

I stand with my face embraced by the sun

There is joy in life, something new has begun

The God of all goodness, He loves and provides

His heart is toward me, in Him I abide

I raise my hands, praise the God of good gifts

All comes from above, songs to Him do I lift

I need Him, I trust Him, in face of all that I see

I seek Him, I find Him, His hand is on me.

I stand with my face stung harsh by the storm

There are difficulties ahead, beware, be warned

Trials and suffering, and death to my dreams

I stumble, fall down, and wince at the sting

Faltering and feebly I raise hands to my King

Quietly, but firmly, my voice starts to sing

I need You, I trust You, in face of all that I see

I seek You, I find You, Your hand is on me.

I don’t know the result of the good and the bad

But I’ll stand and praise whether happy or sad

The God who walks beside me on pathways of light

Is the God who stays with me in the valley of night

He redeems, He restores, and doesn’t waste a thing

He works all together for the good that He brings

I need Him, I trust Him, in face of all that I see

I seek Him, I find Him, His hand is on me.