Sunday, 23 October 2011

Made More Faithful in the Wait

I read a comment left on someone's blog earlier:

"Time to get back to the basics, coffee with cream and sugar; Church with the Word and less fufu." 
And it made me smile because as I slog through this lesson on where church goes wrong, and seek Him to restore my faith in what's right about it, that's pretty much the Church I find He's set me in with Brunnen church plant. We are being Church with the Word and less fufu. We have no building walls. Just homes, and cafes, and a disadvantaged part of the city we want to be a Christ's presence in. We have down-to-earth teaching from the bible, in Swedish and English, which feel more like conversations because we can look into one another's eyes gathered around someone's living room. And we have accountability with one another for living out our struggles and our joy throughout the week too. Nothing fancy, just real and down-to-earth. Tangibly His hands and feet to one another. And He couldn't have drawn it all together at a better time.

This week my DNA (accountability/prayer group) friend and I are reading the book of John. We've both done substantial biblical study in our degrees and liked the idea of just focusing in on Jesus in the gospels, like being reacquainted with the story of His life which we've heard all of our lives. It is heartening to look again and again and again at this God as man, to let the familiar stories of what His disciples witnessed with their own eyes just play before my imagination.

John 6:35 stood out to me today. Mostly because it is Jesus Himself saying in no uncertain terms that anyone who trusts in Him will never be spiritually hungry or thirsty again, and I tell you what, I feel so deeply dissatisfied right now that I can't think of much else beyond how hungry and thirsty I am. Instantly, my disillusioned side starts going, "Huh. Well... You're saying this one thing, and I'm feeling entirely another. That's rather disappointing, God." He told me to look it up in more depth later... So, here I am, 29 minutes past midnight, looking up John 6:35 in the original Greek and seeking God to encourage me with it.

In English, the verse says, "Jesus replied, 'I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst'."

The original Greek for hunger and thirst are peinasē and dipsēsei respectively, and they both conjure up similar translations; 'to have hunger, to have thirst, to have need, to desire earnestly'. The Greek transliteration for 'Never' is ou. There are many translations for this, but my favourite was more of an explanation. Strong's said ou means basically, "ruling it out as fact." All pretty straightforward to what I read in my NLT bible without going in deeper.

But then the Greek for "who comes to me" and "believe in me"...

The phrase 'who come' is transliterated erchomenos, and can also be translated as 'brought to,' or 'accompany'. I like the idea of being brought to Jesus. Like the little children he welcomed when the disciples wanted to turn them away. Because the kingdom belongs to such as these (Matt 19:14). But the richest discovery for me was 'accompany'. I love the image of "accompanying" Jesus. Isn't that what walking with Him is? "No one who accompanies me will ever be hungry again." And isn't it in that daily interaction with Him, that daily keeping company with Him, that we are refreshed for the journey? If there is one word to describe the overriding feeling around this time in life for me right now it is: dissatisfied. I have such earnest and frustrated desires I can barely breathe with them. But must just keep waiting and see the season through... Sometimes so deeply dissatisfied and seemingly disappointed that I don't recognize the sun when it pokes through the clouds as Swedish winter descends. How is that 'never hungering or thirsting,' Lord?

But then the final word I looked up. 'Believe' in 'Those who believe in me....' The Greek transliteration is pisteuōn: 'To believe, have faith in, trust -- to entrust, especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ'. This is not earth-shattering but for the moment, for MY moment, it's kinda huge.

Working through a book about Spiritual Abuse as I walk this journey of Him restoring my soul, the chapter which has most stood out to me has been a rather simple re-teaching on the foundations of my salvation in Christ. On how Grace works. It's only in admitting our brokenness, our neediness, our sheer not-enoughness, truly realizing that we NEED His grace, that we can then realize truly what He means when He says He has done it. If we believe, pisteuōn, to have faith in, TRUST, "especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ", it is DONE. His grace has done it all. And if we believe Him, we can rest and know His love, and be anxious for nothing, strive for nothing, have no lingering fear of not being good enough, or fear that the grace will run out, a bit used up for every sinful act or attitude. He knew every single one before He paid the price for them. He knew how messy this life would get, and how discouragement would sometimes knock us right to the floor. He knew how even His church would be deceived and tainted-- made of humans after all-- and how it would hurt and deceive ones of His. But He still did all of the work of redemption that day on the Cross.

I am recognizing again how truly poor in spirit I am, and so how the Kingdom of Heaven has been unlocked for me (Matthew 5:3). And accompanying Jesus, I must keep TRUSTING Him with my poorness and my neediness, my aching dissatisfaction and unmet desires, and laying it out before Him as I accompany Him every day, every hour... And somehow, it's in being hungry and it's in being thirsty, that I am filled with His grace. With purpose. With hope. It's in being empty, that I am full. It's in being full of emptiness, that Grace works.

And I cannot express how thankful I am for the richness of this grace...

"When I can't feel You, I have learned to reach out just the same
When I can't hear You, I know you still hear every word I pray
And I want You more than I wanna live another day
And as I wait for You, maybe I'm made more faithful..."

--Brooke Fraser, 'Faithful'


Gabi Dickinson said...

This makes me think of Misty singing ''Happy am I to live a hungry life. Blessed am i to thirst.'
This post is so rich. Thank you so much for unlocking these words with Him and sharing them with us! You know in my Bible I have some notes scribbled next to the love passage from Corinthians that you once posted on Xanga. I'm thinking now I may add these notes too :)

Lizzie S said...

Thank you for this Miss Pearson. You know how much it means to me. xxxx

Emmie said...

I want to go to Brunnen with you! It's amazing how much richer the Word becomes when you look into the original translations. Thank you, thank you.

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