When we first come to know the Lord, we are looking to find a new life, a better life. If we’re honest, some of us are looking to escape a life that became too much for us or held us in chains of our own making oftentimes.
If we’re honest, we also don’t really know a lot about what we are in for. We are just counting on it being different, better, and more. Some of us may have heard stories of the Bible that gave us glimpses, but most of us don’t really know their meaning or how they apply to us.
It’s odd that when we make the decision to follow Him, we tend to think we are initiating the relationship with the Lord. Sometimes we have a chorus in the background with words like “I have decided to follow Jesus” and miss that we are responding not initiating.
He called us first! He chose us first!
He knew what He was getting when He chose us. He knew that when He chose the first disciples as well. He knew they were not the most highly educated in the rabbinical teaching of the day. He knew their life had been coarse and hard without rank or privilege. He knew one of them would deny Him and another would betray Him before it was all over, but He still chose them.
I sometimes wonder if He chose such an assorted group of disciples to show us how welcoming He would be of us no matter what our situation, status, background, or mistakes.
Perhaps the bigger challenge we faced was dealing with our expectations of the life after we decided to follow Him. Some of us were exposed to some bad theology right off the bat and expected we were entering into “the good life” here and now where prayers were answered as we desired, and the worst things wouldn’t happen to us because we were His. Some of us weren’t exposed to any theology at all and made it up as we went along to fit our circumstances or desires. Few of us understood what lay ahead. We were and are not so much different than the disciples we can sometimes read about with a certain smugness about how different we may think we are.
We didn’t know what the beavers of Narnia knew about Aslan, that He wasn’t safe, but He was good! We were somehow sure he would be safe!
Then when we got sick or didn’t get the promotion we were hoping for after working so hard or when our marriage fell apart or we walked through cancer with someone we loved, we couldn’t even see how He could be “good” and allow all that to happen when we were sure He had the power to make it otherwise.
Perhaps we missed that the Lord doesn’t waste anything EVER. He uses it all for His glory and our good. When He fed the 5,000 and the 4,000 on the hillsides, multiplying the few loaves and fish available, there were baskets left over and all of the crumbs were picked up. The Bible doesn’t say what He did with the baskets of leftovers, so I am left to imagine.
Today when we have a gathering around food and as usual, there is more than we need and many leftovers, what do WE do? We don’t throw them away. We wrap them up and often send them home with those who were there. I wonder if they sent the leftover baskets with the multitudes that had walked miles to be there, sat for hours listening, and then needed to walk home again. After all, these were poor people, likely the poorest, and He had fed their hearts, spirits, AND stomachs. Even if what was left were just scraps, I might guess they would be grateful.
He uses everything in our lives as well.
He uses the darkest periods of our lives to shine forth His light more brightly and blesses it for others to gain hope in their dark places. He uses the doubt that plagues us even after we thought we had conquered it, to remind us of His faithfulness. He uses our loneliness to draw us into deeper intimacy with Him and discover the deepness of His love. He uses the times of plenty to prune us of our selfishness and share with others. He uses our exhaustion to remind us we are finite and need to steward the body that we are encased in. He uses our fear to show us how to depend on Him and that He is with us even when we cannot see Him. He uses our stubbornness to break us of our self-will that keeps Him at arm’s length from Him and those we love. He uses our heartache to grant us comfort that multiplies in us and we pass on to others.
This Jesus of ours is more than we ever knew He was at the beginning of our walk with Him and we, just like Peter and the rest of them, come to know Him better while we walk with Him. He also shows us more of ourselves than we knew.
You see, He is more interested in our character than He is our comfort. It is our character that reflects Him…or doesn’t.