“They saw Jesus…”
“When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed three or three and a half miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” John 6: 12 – 21
Read once through, then again very slowly entering into the various components of the story and the life of Christ and His disciples.
- God shows up in the grand scheme of things. – The Seen Part of our Journey
- Question: Will He show up for me/you/us personally? – The Unseen Part of our Journey
- He does show up. He always comes. He never leaves. – The Waiting Part of our Journey
- He gets me to where I am to land. – The Reality of our Journey
- Personal Listening Experience – Your invitation to encounter God for you
1. God shows up in the grand scheme of things. The seen part of our journey
God has displayed Himself in many ways. Here are a few that come to mind for me: Creation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, Appearing after death, Pentecost, etc…
Other times that God’s presence has been evident: Documented medical and historical events, in our personal faith experiences - testimonies, a birth of a child, exploring the intricacies of a human body, and in the discoveries of the amazing creations on earth such as I’ve been fully enjoying with my family as we watch the film documentaries, “Planet Earth”.
Eden & I have had a full year of doing contemplative and silent retreats, prayer days, and women’s conferences. Our Fresh Wind prayer teams have been a part of so many prayer ministry opportunities, personal sessions, group encounters, and a tremendous Teaching Workshop on Listening Prayer & Inner Healing. We have known and met God in our church services in worship, at the communion station, in the prayer tent, at hospital gatherings, and especially at the many funerals we have attended together.
Also what comes to mind are the wonderful miracles and profound moments of God’s living presence “showing up” in the Life of Christ as in the miraculous feeding of 5,000 that our text tells us. There are also the miraculous events that we are promised that are yet to come.
It makes total sense that the bewildered miracle receivers would come to such a bright conclusion as:
“Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
- Will He show up for me/you/us personally? The unseen part of our journey
Recently while putting life on “hold” to spend some concentrated time with the Lord I sensed Him inviting me to the scriptures, to a story about Jesus and something about water and a storm. There are a few such stories so I waited for a bit more clarity. As I sat waiting, nothing more came to mind other than to open my Bible, start looking and that Jesus would guide me. As I did this it came to mind that this is what so much of life is about – simply doing what we know so far, only what we’ve been given to do and that Jesus will guide us as we go – a simple, yet profound reality of life with Christ that I so often forget. As I turned the leaves of my tattered old Bible through the gospels I came to the first mention of water and a storm in John 6, the passage that we’ve already read. There I felt invited to enter in. I began to be deeply touched (watch for these heart movements within you, they are likely showing you something important that is going on within you.) When I saw the disciples in the dark wondering where the Lord was, loudly from within me I began to wonder if He would show up just for them. Just for me? Or only in the big events of history or ministry? Would He come to my wind & waves & darkness? If not, I had a strong reaction - I don’t think this ministry thing is going to work for me – this was my firm thought. An interesting piece to note that John recorded is that they were 3 – 3 l/2 miles across the water. This equals my 3 – 3 l/2 years of deep waters of darkness & challenges that I have been facing. Three & a half is a symbolic number for great trials, also l/2 of 7 – midway. What now?
Where did He go? Jesus is now unseen, and perhaps unfelt. This brings us to look at spiritual formation on our spiritual journeys. Thomas Keating, a near 90 year old Benedictine monk has taught me much on spiritual formation. I quite like him as I learn from his teaching DVD’s. I like his long robe, his glowing glory face, and his down to earth mannerisms and communicating (he even swears!) He teaches about our being formed through seasons of dying, resurrections, with plateaus along the way. He encourages a posture of resting and stillness in the times of the darkness of not knowing so that we may hear him breathing or whispering in our basement. He jests that the Holy Spirit thinks we like this transformation and that He assumes we are ready for the next piece of being formed after what feels like a short peaceful plateau. It is much like a caterpillar going from summer light to cocoon dark. Being in the darkness of a cocoon is much like times of deep spiritual formation, being transformed but not knowing what is going on. In reality a caterpillar’s DNA is actually changed – she is a totally new creation.
What is going on? Mysterious, hidden work of God in the dark. I am presently reading, “The Dark Night of the Soul” by Gerald May. He takes the mystical experiences of St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila and brilliantly brings them together with the modern findings in today’s psychology and spiritual understandings. He writes simply about the deep things we experience. I will quote a few pieces of his phenomenal insights.
“The dark night is a profoundly good thing. It is an ongoing spiritual process in which we are liberated from attachments and compulsions and empowered to live and love more freely. Sometimes this letting go of old ways is painful, occasionally even devastating. But this is not why the night is called “dark.” The darkness of the night implies nothing sinister, only that the liberation takes place in hidden ways, beneath our knowledge and understanding. It happens mysteriously, in secret, and beyond our conscious control. For that reason it can be disturbing or even scary, but in the end it always works to our benefit. It is a deep transformation, a movement toward indescribable freedom and joy. And in truth it doesn’t always have to be unpleasant! To be immersed in mystery can be very distressing at first, but over time I have found immense relief in it. It takes the pressure off. I no longer have to worry myself to death about what I did, or can do, because there really is no way of knowing. I realize that I’m not as much in control of life as I’d like to be.”
“They saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water;
and they were terrified.
But he said to them, “It is I, don’t be afraid.”
- He does show up and He always comes. The waiting part of our journey
Is He coming? The question of all times. An advent longing for The Christ. And now a daily longing for Him and often for His second coming, when all shall be well. We deeply sense our need of Him and our desires for Him to come. The ache of this life often seems to hurt far too much to endure, when will it end? “Primal Wound,” are the words I saw recently in mind’s view while experiencing some extreme discomfort down deeply within my being. I longed to stop the pain and found myself reaching for whatever would make it feel better, for a moment, an hour, or hopefully forever. “Nouns” are what I call the persons, places, or things I long for or grab for when in this state of being. I was thankful that I also was sensing the Lord inviting me to be still, to not move to a “fix” to “fix” it. “Be still and know I am God in this deep place, Lorie.” “I will meet you there, wait for me to come.” As I used all my energy to focus, to steady my heart, to still my body, I felt the Lord come gently pouring Himself into me. It was like pure crystal water to my parched place that needed to dry out of all else. I realized that I often let Him come to me, but I also grab a bit of whatever else I’d like so there is a mixture of God & other which is a very hard thing to get out once its in there, it can take a very long time to be removed, even years. Every so often in the hours and days that followed I would feel Him come again, and fill me more, how kind of Him. He was restoring my soul, what joy & freedom. I believe I was experiencing a piece of the dark night, not knowing what was happening within me, yet in the dawn I see the transformation results of greater freedom and truer love.
Often on this healing journey I have felt that this is taking way too long and I’ve joined the people in John 6, “Let’s make Him King by force.” “Let’s just get it done, and get on with it, it’s all taking way too long, let’s make it happen our way, with our strength.” Sounds like this may be how Judas felt and just wanted to see Christ come into His Kingdom ALREADY!. Force Jesus to be King in my child’s life, in my health issues, in my husband’s business, in our church situations, or how about in my own weaknesses? It just doesn’t work. I can see why He withdraws, it’s not how He does it. He can not be forced. I must wait – an advent wait – and let Christ be formed and born in each situation – His way, His timing, by His Spirit where I can not control it, resist it, or manipulate it. How good it is to simply do what I’ve been given to do, and leave the rest up to Our Father. I sure can identify with being 3 or 3l/2 miles out on the water in a row boat that doesn’t feel really secure at a time of storm and there wondering where Jesus is. It’s been a most tumultuous past 3 or 3 l/2 years of my life. Three and a half is a symbol in scripture for great trials. It is half way to 7 which represents “completion.” Ya, out there somewhere, rowing along, wondering……
In a recent scripture meditation, Lectio Divina, I was drawn to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I was enjoying the beauty of this as I sensed the Lord draw near and offer me “the desires of my heart” asking if I was ready to receive them? I stepped forward in my heart as if to say “Of course.” When suddenly I stepped back, put my hands on my hips and said, “No, actually. I wanted them then, and then, and then, and I wanted them to be like this and this and this… I don’t want them now. Don’t bring me flowers now.” I was quite surprised at what surfaced from within my heart. I was also thankful that the Lord is full of grace and mercy and seemed to just stand there and say, “Well, what now, then? Are you sure?” Of course, one glance at Him and His perfect love, my will melted to accept His along with His perfect timing, powerful wisdom, and the fulfillment of His love and the desires of my heart.
I like that the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus right away, as I wonder if that happens to us often, too. Perhaps He is in the scary, freaky, crazy, stormy things of our lives – right there – somehow? In reality when He created us He wove Himself right inside us, we carry Him – He doesn’t come and go, show up and leave – He is in us – always loving us and being God. He can withstand rejection, anger, distrust, idols, our moods, lies, confusions…. He can’t be anything other than God, Immanuel, God with us. Oh how He helps us see and be aware of His presence within and about us.
We will know His voice. Perhaps you know His voice well by now? Or maybe it is a new experience and you will get to practice and learn to trust His voice that speaks to you. Let us hear Him say: “It is I, don’t be afraid.” May we then let Him in the boat of our life.
God can wait, and often does. I guess He knows who He is and what He is capable of doing. Waiting lets the water of His word, of His Spirit, the light of His love, take time to get to those deeper seeds inside us that may never get touched with His presence. Let Him take His time to come to you there.
I’ve been reading a little old book from Andrew Murray, called, “Waiting on God.” I’d like to share a piece that is now highlighted in my personal journal. “It is bless-ed (old English) when a waiting soul and a waiting God meet each other.” It is like a kiss. He goes on to say, “God cannot gather the fruit til it is ripe. He knows when we are spiritually ready to receive the blessing to our profit and His glory. Waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen the soul for His blessing. Waiting under the cloud of trial, the breaks in showers of blessing, is as needful. Waiting makes the blessing doubly precious.” He says because “then we find our life and joy in Himself.” Maybe something is ripening in the sunshine of His love in you?
“…and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”
- He gets me/you/us to where we are to land? The truth of our journey
Of all the places I would like to land, the primary one is WITH HIM, either an active awareness or a deep trust that He is with me, mindful of me, caring about me & my situations. I’m sure we are all in that boat together. Often I seem to be able to get nine-tenths of the way on a path or in the race with the skills, abilities, and grace of God within me. But there is always that one-tenth when I hit the end of “myself,” which wasn’t “myself” at all but His life in me, where I can’t get to where I want to land. It is the place of surrender where I desperately say out loud, “I need a Savior!!!!!” which is followed with a rejoicing, “And I have a Savior!!!!!”
If we could do it “ourselves” we certainly would have all done it by now, however, we would not actually be happy after all. We are made for the Divine and a life of interaction with the Divine – be it active or silent. Satisfaction comes with connecting with Him.
Where are we going? To Eden restored, to Canaan’s freedom from bondage, to eternal life – Heaven and Earth made fully alive, new, where “Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD.” That “place” were all will be healed and all shall be well !!! Our seed of faith that we’ve been given might feel really tiny sometimes – but it is mighty. He made it well, it is faith from God. It may have a small beginning but will grow into a harvest of faith. When praying for Jacquie recently I saw her wading through a harvest field of faith & faithfulness that has grown this year. It is growing in each of us, too.
Where can we land for now? Eventually we trust and hope in Him that His kingdom will fully come and His will shall completely be done. But where is my place of rest, peace, and the fullness of God for now? Jesus says in John 10 – “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd – I know my sheep and my sheep know me…..” Let us land with Him, in His pasture, saved and having life to the full in His Kingdom, now, here, With Us. Notice in John 6 that it was Jesus who got them there immediately – it was not of the disciple’s efforts. Once again we enter the dark night where we do not know how or what God is doing, but eventually we land where He is taking us. Have you felt this shift before? A coming to Him in agony of soul and after meeting Him receiving a divine peace that transcends all understanding. How kind He is. In the middle of the night last week when I couldn’t seem to hear, see or land with Him, He used this unsettled time to get me to Bill & Jamie for a time of prayer. He knew I needed community and that this was where I was to land then. We are on an ongoing journey of miracles, darkness, His coming, and great joy.
When I interacted with Jesus in the Bible Story I was delighted to see where my heart and His love had us land together. When you move to meditative moments, as Bill encouraged us last week, you will see where your heart is at – where your relationship with God is at – and it is a wonderful time to meet with Him and settle things that are unsettled within us. When we “immediately” landed I was so thankful, so joyful, so crazy in love with Him – I just wanted to hug Him to pieces. At these times of presence I don’t really care where we land as long as we are together and I know He cares about me, and that He does life with me in the big cosmos and in my little row boat. Yes, I saw Jesus. I didn’t land in heaven yet – with all my family, finances, health, or future issues totally resolved – but I landed in a place of peace on my journey, a place of freedom from the chaos. Actually I was like a little girl grabbing her Daddy’s leg and not wanting to let go – not for fear – but for sheer delight of being with Him. He was dragging the boat up on the shore and I couldn’t stop embracing Him. At first I thought He was too busy for me, but very quickly He let go of the boat and spent time with me. There we were on the beach – together – Him caring for me, and me gratefully receiving His love and returning it to Him. For now, I’ve landed. I’ve come to a deeper place of peace, a deeper knowing his love and care for me, and have a refreshed trust in His leading.
IMPORTANT: Gerald May describes what I have recently experienced in my
dark wind & waves - He goes on to say of the Dark Night – “The divine presence doesn’t intend us to suffer, but is instead WITH us in all the experiences of life, In both
suffering and joy. And that presence is always inviting us toward
greater freedom and love. Each experience of the dark night gives its
gifts, leaving us freer than we were before, more available, more
responsive, and more grateful. Like not knowing and lack of control,
freedom and gratitude are abiding characteristics of the dark night.
But they don’t arrive until the darkness passes. They come with the
Listening Exercise Jesus wants to meet you in your boat of life.
- Take a minute to identify & feel what your wind, waves, or darkness might be.
- Sense your awareness of God being with you or not. Take time to let Him show Himself with you. Listen to His words … “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Or other things He may be saying to you.
- Can you let Him in your boat – close to you and what you are experiencing?
- If you are able, let Him care, cherish, and hold you right now. If you have no sense of Him with you yet, can you choose to trust that He will come? He always comes.
- Where does He want you to land today, a settled resting place? What is the truth in this piece of your journey? Jesus can you give us each a word, a song, a scripture, or a symbol of your love for us today – help us to listen to your voice of love & care for us personally.
“They saw Jesus…”
“Freedom and gratitude are abiding characteristics of the dark night… they come with the dawn.”