Sunday, July 03, 2016

I Will Sing

“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” Psalm 16:6

There are moments when this isn’t so much a stated belief as it is an elusive longing.

There are moments when a current reality feels so very un-pleasant that assurance wanes.

Doubt and despair. They really are so difficult.

And common.

“I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” 
Psalm 13:6 NIV

Claiming this can be a definitive clawing upward from a treacherous cliff face fall.

“I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously.” 
Psalm 13:6 HCSB

Learning this can feel laughable from any heaping pile of rotten rejection or suffering pain.

“I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” 
Psalm 13:6 NRSV

Practicing this can seem so foolish from a jail cell where you are shackled and physically broken in unjust ways expecting death. (Acts 16:16-40)

“…and be content with what you have, because God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’
So we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?’
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.  
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” 
Hebrews 13:5-8

The Lord has been good to me…

When I lose?!

We do not always live in obvious victory. And choosing to rejoice when it all comes crashing down can seem both impossible and unnerving.

But it is also so very helpful.

I don’t know exactly how to consistently accomplish this, yet.
But I must choose this rejoicing defiance.

The boundary lines are already laid in welcome places.

The Lord is RIGHT NOW dealing bountifully with me.

I am not to demand another sign.

Mark chapter 8 is teaching me this.

This chapter begins with Jesus feeding a very large crowd of people with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. Just exactly like a few chapters before (Mark 6:30-44) Jesus took what little they had, gave thanks and broke. And it fed thousands with leftovers! This was the SECOND time the disciples witnessed this, gathering the overabundance with their own hands when it was all said and done.

Immediately following this miraculous provision, the Pharisees show up to test Jesus by asking for a sign from heaven. With a deep sigh Jesus declines and crosses back across the lake he had just traversed offering this admonishment to his followers, “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

A rousing discussion about actual bread follows leaving Jesus to challenge his disciples incredulously, “Are your hearts hardened?”

He reminds them of the OVERABUNDANCE of provision that they have witnessed with their eyes, tasted with their mouths and touched with their hands. This wasn’t about bread filling a stomach! It was about trust. It was about knowing.

The next stories expound:

A blind man is brought to Jesus and the people beg for Jesus to touch him.
“He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.”
And then Jesus spit.
In the man's eyes.
(A taboo behavior for the Jews. Okay, a taboo behavior for most of us...)
The blind man sees a bit better but his vision is not completely clear.
So Jesus touches him again and his sight is restored.
Jesus then instructs him, “Don’t even go into the village.”

This follows with Jesus asking about who people think he is.
The apostles affirm that folks see him as a prophet—Elijah, John the Baptist maybe…
Jesus says, “Who do you think I am?”
Peter testifies “You are the Messiah.”
And Jesus warns them to keep that quiet.

Blind guys are healed. Don’t show anyone.

Followers know Jesus is the Christ. Don’t tell anyone.

Come again?

Jesus immediately follows with the teaching that he MUST suffer, be rejected and killed.

Peter, the Messiah proclaimer, rebukes Jesus for this prophecy and Jesus follows with, “Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely human concerns.”

Human concerns? The yeast of the Pharisees? Miracles out of sight, refusing to offer the proof of a sign and hushing the apostles when they speak the truth?

What are the concerns of God exactly?

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

And he follows with, “Don’t be ashamed of me and my words…”

LOSE your life for Jesus and the gospel. Lose?

This is not an easy (or enjoyable) concept to accept.

But it mattered and was very crucially tied to the opening of eyes and the breaking of bread and what it really meant to be King.

It’s never been about what Jesus can or will do.

It’s about Who He inherently is.

And how He loves.

People were missing this. In those moments where Jesus was living, breathing, miracle-ing, right before their eyes—they were still blind. They could only vaguely see.

So he would continue to touch. Until the job was done. Not because it was demanded or required, but because of WHO HE WAS. An ANOINTED KING who would pour out His life unto surrender.

And this would read as loss.

And that loss would breed life.

It was to be the Only Way.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John14:6


Jesus teaches in Mark 8 that this life in Him, the promised abundance of it (John 10:10), would be met by surrender.

 Saving my own life--dodging all the surrender--does not move me closer to Jesus. 

Saving my own life turns my eyes to me. 

Instead, my eyes must be turned to Him.

Trusting even when I cannot see.

In quiet private spaces. In barely bits, one touch at a time.

Naming Him boldly without requiring of Him by my own temporal understandings.

The concerns of God.

To cease resistance.

Defiantly relying and assured that our Christ GIVES and PROVIDES.

Right now.

When I lose, my self-pitying insistence often bellows pungently first.

All of my demanding doubt expelled via reeking fish breath with bread crumbs still littering my robes.

He deals bountifully with me.

Because of Who He Is.


Now and forever.

“I will sing…”

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
I John 4:9&16

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