God’s dealings

Why God relates to us differently

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Luke 22:35-36 (NIV)

This is a curious passage of scripture, one which could make someone who is familiar with the nature and teaching of Jesus to do a double take. What in the world is Jesus talking about here?

This advice seems contrary to everything we know about Jesus from both His teachings and His dealings with His disciples. It appears to contradict His many exhortations to faith in God’s provision and to trust in God’s protection. The very idea of now being told to essentially lookout for oneself after the comfort of experiencing God’s miraculous interventions seems ludicrous.

But the reality is, Jesus’ manner in relating to His disciples is about to change. He is preparing them for His impending arrest, crucifixion and death. In the next breath He tells them: “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.’” (vs. 37)

This change in the rules of the game ushered in a very difficult time for the disciples. No one suffered more than poor Peter. First he took Jesus’ advice about the sword too literally. At Jesus’ arrest he overstepped the will of the Lord and wielding his sword cut off a man’s ear. Jesus had to rebuke him saying “No more of this!” and healed the man. Then Peter ended up denying Christ three times and going out into the night weeping bitterly. (vs. 47-62)

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Deep calls to deep

Earlier in the summer, my wife and I spent a Sunday afternoon at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis. The spring and summer rains feeding Minnehaha Creek have made the falls a roaring attraction this year. The sheer force of voluminous amounts of water ceaselessly cascading into such a picturesque grotto-like setting is indeed breathtaking. From there the swollen creek tumbles and rumbles its way through the remaining several furlong run into the mightyMississippi.

Waterfalls have a way of mesmerizing your soul as they beckon you to come closer and closer. They have a unique allure in nature that tantalize all the senses. Not only are they a beautiful to behold with the eyes and stunning in surround sound to the ears, but they also cannot be fully appreciated until one is close enough to feel their spray in your face and lick their moisture from your lips. And while savoring that, the senses are finally satiated as you breath in deep gulps of their freshness through your nose. Ah…h that is how waterfalls are meant to be experienced!

But waterfalls also can be perilous. Sensory delight can turn into sensory overload if a person ventures beyond the posted warning signs or danger areas. Those signs are there for a reason because someone, sometime, somehow got too close and went from being a visitor by the water to a victim in the water.

The verse quoted above is written by someone who got too close to a waterfall. In fact the waterfall of life was coming at him with such ferocity that it literally swept over him and would have swept him away were not for God’s love for him. (42:8) All of us have from time to time been engulfed at the base of a waterfall where we feel like we are drowning in the pressures and trials of life that are endlessly pouring into our lives.

The writer of Psalm 42 and 43, which together form a sixteen verse prayer, opens his heart to God in a most vulnerable, if not disarming way. He literally pours out his soul as he battles with overwhelming discouragement and seeming estrangement from God. For him, the waterfall of life is unrelenting. This is an easy prayer to identify with because all of us feel that way at times. In fact like this man we can find ourselves even wondering “Where is God?” (42:19)

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