Not What You Expected?

I have probably read the Gospels 50 times. I readily admit that I have read those first four books of the New Testament way more than I have read anything else in the bible. I have read and definitely value other portions of the bible. I love how the book of Genesis sets the table for how we got our selves into the mess of fallen humanity and how that points to the Redemption of humanity found on the cross. I can relate to the struggles of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and how that family was the first dysfunctional family covered by grace. I understand what Moses is feeling when at times he throws his hands as if to give up when the people he has been charged to lead just won’t listen. I get it as David struggles with the good and evil within. I love the fact that Paul (one of the smartest people to ever live – IMO) was blinded in order to see. I love how he was able to speak the truth of God into completely different contexts while understanding the differences between Roman, Hellenistic, and Hebraic sensibilities. But there is just something about the Gospels that keeps speaking to me. It’s probably because it’s the life of Jesus. – Ya think?…….. I remember Mark Lowrey talking about taking some time off from touring with the Gather Vocal Band and reading the “red letters” he said “That stuff will mess you up!” And he’s right!  Maybe that’s why in the first part of Johns gospel we read that Jesus is the Word!

This morning I was reading through the Gospel According to Luke for the fifty-eleventh time and I ran across a story that I had read before but didn’t really get until just now. In chapter 6 verse 19 a statement is made that just floored me. “And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19 NKJV) Power going out from Jesus isn’t a new thing to the believer who is familiar with scripture. One of the most popular stories in scripture is where the woman with the issue of blood touches the hem of His garment and is healed. But this story in Luke 6 is a little different.  Jesus is in a place where many were there to receive the healing and all of the many were healed. In fact, not all of them touched him. They all “sought” to touch Him. They all just wanted to touch Him. They just wanted to and they were all healed. Think about that for a minute. There were so many people around Jesus in that moment that it wasn’t possible for all of them to touch Him. Yet to a person they approached the Healer on that day thinking that they had to touch Him to be healed. They left with a completely different story. They went with a plan of their own creation and the God-man answer with something even better than what they expected. No one expected that just being in His presence would produce the fruit they had hoped touching Him would. Wow. Once again just WOW!!!!

This speaks to me today for many reasons. On a micro-personal level as I consider God’s will for my life and ministry, I am reminded that by being in His presence I am exactly where I need to be. I am reminded that He can in fact be trusted. I reminded of the countless times in my life that He has taken my bad decisions and turned them upside down for His glory.  And on a macro-personal level when I think about the Church to which I belong in the Kingdom. I find myself worried about where the UMC will end up. I hear countless theories and observe plans being made. It is a time of uncertainty. During times of uncertainty like this I tend to allow fear and worry to creep in. Sometimes within that fear and worry creeps anger, and then we just have an emotional mess where good decisions are never made. But I reminded of how the movement of Methodism began. It began with a dude named John Wesley and some of his friends just wanting to be in His presence. Wesley experienced it for the first time in a church service and articulated it as his heart being strangely warmed. Weeks later with a group of friends in another church close by, those present experienced the presence of God so tangibly that no one there could move, all they could do was bask in the sweet repentance found only through the redemptive blood of Jesus.

During the times in my life where I have experienced the supernatural presence of Papa, it didn’t matter what I expected, even if my since of expectation was for something grand and wonderful, He always exceeds it. Every time I seek forgiveness for one thing He reveals more and I am forgiven more. Every time I go to God for an answer to this problem or that, He is always there with answers that are better than what I expected. Now the difference is this. He has “more” and “better” every single time, but rare are the times when I see fully what He has, and what He wants to give. And that’s a shame.

Across the globe during this season there are multitudes of people in the Methodist Tribe expecting something. Folks like me are expecting a new movement. A revival. We look for a historical outpouring of the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit. Let’s remember this story from Lukes Gospel as we wait. Let’s remember that we think we have to actually touch His garment, when all He requires is that we are in His presence. Let’s remember that His answers are rarely “lock-step” with ours. Let’s remember that we are supernatural fruit, of a supernatural God, who does supernatural things.

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