I love surprises.
Well, most of them.
An unexpected bouquet of flowers – good thing. An unexpected flat tire – not so much.
But, my favorite surprises have to be the ones that come from God's Word. You know what I'm talking about. Those nuances or details or insights that, though you've read them countless times before, suddenly jump out at you – and you learn or see or hear something completely new in the Bible.
Moments when I slap my head (sorta like one of those "I could've had a V-8" commercials) – and just smile and go, "Huh…"
I've had several in the last few weeks, and I thought it might be *fun* if I shared them with you.
Let's start in the Old Testament:
"Moses said, 'I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.' So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses!' And he said, 'Here I am.'" (Exodus 3:3-4, NKJV)
OK, the story of Moses and the burning bush. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?
This part: "So when the LORD saw that [Moses] turned aside to look, God called to him…"
I had never really noticed before that God did not talk to Moses UNTIL Moses turned to look. I have always known that God talked to Moses from the burning bush. What struck me this time was the timing.
Moses turned toward the bush – THEN God spoke.
So, here's what I'm thinking.
I spend a lot of time thinking about, looking for, wanting some kind of "opportunity" to drop in my lap to serve the Lord. I think to myself, "Shouldn't I wait for the Lord to show me what to do?" And then, after waiting for a (long) while, I might say a little less patiently, "Isn't God supposed to bring something to me?"
After this particular passage hit me anew, I asked myself this question.
Is God just waiting for me to turn?
Maybe God is waiting for me to move first. It's hard to drive a parked car, after all.
Now I'm not advocating moving willy-nilly all over the place without prayer and counsel. But I am saying that sometimes we sit waiting when we should be faithfully moving out.
I think God just might be saying – Turn in curiosity, and see what I might say. Try some new doors, and see what I might open. Explore new avenues, and see where I might guide you.
Now let's move on to the New Testament:
"They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, 'Don't be afraid. I am here!' Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!" (John 6:19-21, NLT)
OK, the story of Jesus walking on water. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?
This part: "…and immediately they arrived at their destination!"
I had never noticed that part. I've always been so captivated with Jesus' ability to defy nature. I've always been so comforted by His kind and encouraging words. I've always been so sure that I had the complete story, that until now, I had missed the second miracle.
I checked other translations to make sure that that little tidbit of miracle was there. It was. And here's what John Gill's commentary had to say about it:
"...and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went – which was done, as Nonnus observes, by a divine motion; for not only the wind ceased, but another miracle was wrought; the ship was in an instant at the place whither they intended to go."
So, here's what I'm thinking:
Jesus didn't get into the boat and help those disciples row the rest of the way to shore. Not this time. This time He performed a second miracle. He immediately brought them to their destination – suddenly and unexpectedly.
When I am in the middle of the storms in my life, I pray – of course I do. And the Lord comes to me. I invite Him into all the troubles that are raging around me. And He does indeed say to me, "Don't be afraid. I am here!"
But, do I ever really consider the possibility that He might immediately change the situation? Do I pray big – believing that He could perform a miracle? Do I entertain the thought that Jesus knows my destination – and He might just fast-forward me there?
Do I believe that when Jesus appears, anything can happen?!
Yes, sometimes He calms the storm.
Sometimes He invites me to walk on water.
Sometimes He gets into the boat, and we ride out the storm together.
But now – a new possibility! He might just perform a miracle, and my rowing might be instantly needless in one shining moment.
I've got one more.
Can you hang in there?
New Testament again:
"[Jesus] stepped forward to meet them. 'Who are you looking for?' he asked. 'Jesus the Nazarene,' they replied. 'I AM he,' Jesus said…As Jesus said, 'I AM he,' they all drew back and fell to the ground!" (John 18:4-6, NLT)
OK, the story of Jesus being arrested. You've heard it many times – I've heard it many times. So, what did I see this time?
This part: "As Jesus said, 'I AM he,' they all drew back and fell to the ground!'"
How did I not notice before that these words, this Name, uttered from the lips of Jesus threw these people to the ground?!
I wonder – did Jesus shout it? Did He whisper it? Or did He say it calmly, stating it as the matter of fact that it was?
And this – did the disciples fall down, too?
Oh, how I wish I could have been a "fly on the wall" – (a gnat in the Garden??) – and seen this scene unfold.
So, here's what I'm thinking:
There is power in The Name.
Does that thrill you like it thrills me?!
Just the Name, just the Voice of Jesus saying it, was enough to topple people. His Voice had authority, it had power, it had the ability to knock people off their feet.
It still does.
It's a divisive name – a bold claim. Jesus is God. In many circles, that isn't going to win you the Most Popular vote. I don't know about you, but I kinda like that. It kinda makes me stand a little taller.
One day, at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.
But what about now? What about me?
Am I knocked off my feet by the fact that the great "I AM" died for me? That the awesome "I AM" rose from the dead to give me life? That the glorious "I AM" is the One that I serve? That the majestic and almighty "I AM" is my friend?
I should be.
I should be knocked off my feet, down to my knees, and flat on my face.
I am loved by "I AM."
His words silence me. I am hushed with humble gratitude.
So, my friends – thanks for hanging in there with me! I hope my thoughts cause you to ponder, too.
The Word of God is alive and powerful.
And it is full of surprises – really, really good ones!
What's something you've learned lately from the Bible that struck you in a new way?
Come and enjoy some nourishment at Joan's GRACE CAFE!
BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"