Seek And Ye Shall Find

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
— The words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8

One night a young man from Albania sat in a motel room in Spain, frustrated and discouraged. He was trying to make his way to a new life Canada but he was now hopelessly snared in a thorny ticket of red tape. He’d done everything he could, but the immigration officials were still shaking their heads.

He’d been brought up under communist teaching, had heard over and over, “God doesn’t exist.” This idea, they were told in school, is a lie meant to keep the common people in bondage. This myth is still being perpetrated by deceived fanatics, but we will wipe it out in time.”

As he grew up he began to question, “Why do the communists have to keep saying this? Surely by now a myth would be no trouble to them.” Or maybe God isn’t a myth? Maybe the communists weren’t able to stamp out this God and Bible business because there was something to it? He began to feel a longing to know the truth; later, working in Germany, he was able to obtain an Albanian Bible and started reading it.

In time he’d made his way to Spain hoping for a way to emigrate to Canada. Now here he sat all alone, far from home, his dreams for the future shattered. In despair he cried out to this God the Bible talked about. “Are You real? Do You see me? Will You help me?”

He looked up and saw a vivid picture on the wall. A painting of Jesus with His arms held out, to Cheti it felt like Jesus was inviting him to come. Did it appear at that instant or had it been hanging there all along and he’d just not noticed it before? In any case, he saw it now and felt the Lord speaking to him at that moment. The whole puzzle of religion became clear to him. God is real and had heard his prayer. Jesus is real. The Bible he’d been reading was telling him the truth.

That night he turned his life over to God and asked for His guidance in the future. The next day he went back to the Canadian immigration office and he received the emigration permit he needed.

LET HIM PROVE IT!

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” — Matthew 27:42

In the Bible we read that the religious rulers of Jesus’ time followed him around constantly. They heard his teachings, saw his miracles — and most of them would not believe He was from God. If God really sent him, they said, Jesus would follow the traditions. For lack of a better explanation they said, “it’s the devil himself that’s giving this man power to work wonders.”

When Jesus hung on the cross there was a great earthquake, the sky was darkened, the heavy curtain of the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. Two days after Jesus’ death the soldiers guarding the tomb came running and said, “An angel came down and rolled the stone away.” Solid proof, right? The Jewish leaders bribed the guards to keep quiet about this. (And that silence wouldn’t have come cheap, I don’t think.)

Their minds were made up about Jesus. They asked for signs but refused to see. They weren’t seeking so they never found. They didn’t knock, so the truth was never opened to them like it was to our friend Cheti in his hotel room in Spain.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”— The Apostle Paul, writing in to the Hebrews: ch 11:6.

Mary’s Faith

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, “They have no wine.”
Jesus saith unto her, “Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”
His mother saith unto the servants, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
—Read the whole account of this miracle in John 2:1-8

When I read these verses I couldn’t help but be impressed with the faith Mary demonstrated. “Whatever He asks, do it.”

Somebody had a problem. It wasn’t Mary’s problem, but she knew about it – even though the fellow in charge of the wedding feast didn’t seem to be clued in. I imagine the folks giving the feast were relatives, maybe a cousin or even a niece or nephew of Mary, which is why she and her children and even Jesus’ disciples all attended.

So Mary was somehow privy to the problem. She didn’t get in a mad flap (like I might.) She didn’t wash her hands of the situation and leave others to deal with it (like I might.) No, even though it wasn’t her problem, she brought it to Jesus’ attention, believing that He could do something though He apparently hasn’t worked any miracles before.

His response was almost rude. It sounds to me a lot like, “So? What am I supposed to do about it? This isn’t ‘Amazing time’ for me yet.”

Mary didn’t get confrontational. “Listen, Son. These are our relatives and You have to help them out.”

She didn’t nag or scold. “Look, this is a disaster! Don’t just sit there. Get up and do something!”

She didn’t whine, “Something has to change here. Can’t you please, please, do something?”

She didn’t have a solution to suggest. “If you’d kindly make six buckets of wine appear right there in the pantry, everyone would be so grateful.”

So I glean from these verses that Mary was aware of the problem; there was no visible solution; she brought the problem to the only One who could solve it; she kept her cool, sat on her pride, and didn’t argue with Him about it.

I doubt she had any idea what Jesus could do to solve the problem, or even if He would do anything. She simply informed Him about the situation and left it in His hands. Yet she had faith. She prepared for a solution. She told the servants, “Whatever He tells you to do, be sure to follow through with it.”

I’m guessing she quietly took her place among the guests and waited to see if and how Jesus would provide.

These verses make me look at my own prayers, the petitions and the attitudes I come to God with. Do I wash my hands of other people’s problems? Do I bring these needs to the One Who can help, or mull them over for days and weeks first, trying to come up with a great solution to suggest to Him? Do I believe He actually can and will do something? Do I whine? He just has to do something — like NOW!

Suppose Mary had said, “This isn’t my problem.” Suppose she hadn’t wanted to bother Jesus with it. What if she’d been doubtful that He could do something and hadn’t said anything to the servants to prepare them for a solution? Would there have been any ‘water-turned-to-wine’ miracle in the Bible. I doubt it.

Lord, teach us to ask in faith trusting Your wisdom to provide the best answer.

 

“Can You Trust Me?”

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the kind and longsuffering Rochelle-Wisoff Fields. And today J Hardy Carroll has offered the photo prompt. If you’d like to participate in the Fictioneers prompt, check with Rochelle at Addicted to Purple.

When I first saw this picture, my mind went back to when we lived in Montreal and saw the result of what locals called “un reglement de comptes.” Someone wouldn’t pay their dues — or pay due respect — and there’s be this untraceable explosion.

Photo © J Hardy Carroll

“Can You Trust Me?”

“So whatta ya think?” The realtor tried for upbeat. “Can you see this for your meetings? Needs a little work, of course.”

Pastor Ivan surveyed the disaster. “Rumor has it this was a result of not paying the mob’s “protection” fees.

The realtor’s smile disappeared. “Maybe. I’m sure they won’t bother you guys, being’s you’re a church and all.”

Ivan sighed. Lord, this IS affordable. But it looks hopeless.

“Son of man, can these bones live?”

The Bible quote startled Ivan. “What?”

The realtor turned to him, puzzled. “Eh?”

Ivan grinned. “You know, maybe this will work — with God’s help.”

Back story:

I could fit this tale into 100 words because Pastor Ivan knew his Bible and exactly what this question implied. The story is found in Ezekiel 37:1-14. Here the Lord takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones, representing the scattered, defeated House of Israel, “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.”

As Ezekiel watches, the bones come together, muscles and sinews start to connect them, then flesh appears. The spirit of God breathes life into them. “…and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.”

“And (I) shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.” (Verse 14)

So the quote Ivan heard in his mind implied, “Can you trust me to bring something vibrant out of this hopeless mess? And can you trust me to defend it?”

 

Of Flowers and Weeds

I was working in the garden one day when I started to feel blue. I didn’t know why life suddenly felt so overwhelmingly sad, but I prayed that the Lord would help me deal with this feeling. I know it’s not His will that we spend time wandering in a blue fog, thinking how sad life is.

Awhile later when I was walking to the corner store my neighbour came out to intercept me and asked how my garden was doing. He was a retired widower who enjoyed visiting with anyone, and though I doubt he was much for going to church, he did have a reverence for God and his creation.

After we’d chatted a bit he made this comment: “I was weeding in my flowerbeds and wondering why there have to be weeds. I came to the conclusion that the Lord made weeds so we would appreciate the flowers more.”

His thought was like a little light that pierced through my dark mood. I am too much inclined to see all the weeds in life and miss seeing the flowers. In fact, too many times I don’t even believe there are any flowers!

Through my neighbour’s words the Lord was able to nudge me and remind me that there is hope, there are flowers, there are many things to be thankful for. Life isn’t all bad and days aren’t all blue. And maybe these blue feelings help me appreciate the joys more when they come.

I whispered a little prayer of thanks as I continued on my way to the store. He had given me what I needed and through this I could feel again His love for me. So many precious little jewels the Lord scatters on our pathway every day because he truly cares for us and wants us to enjoy the beauties He has created.

“Blessed be the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise Him.”
Psalm 28:6-7

“What’s A Miracle?”

Years back a young minister would make the rounds of his parish at random. Being a bachelor himself, he never gave much thought to the time of routines in other homes. He seemed quite unaware of what time most people ate their dinner and that sort of thing. Consequently he was very apt to knock on a parishioner’s door not long before the family was ready to sit down to a meal.

One day he arrived at one family’s home not long before dinner and was invited to sit in the parlor until the man of the house finished up a few chores. Then he was welcome to  join them for the meal if he wished. While he sat there, the couple’s small son came in. After shaking hands and saying a polite the lad looked up at the minister and asked, “Sir, can you tell me what’s a miracle?”

The Minister tried to come up with a simple enough explanation that the lad could understand. Then he asked, “Why are you wondering about miracles?”

“Because when Mom saw you coming up the walk she told Dad, ‘Here comes the minister and it will be a miracle if he doesn’t stay for supper.’ ”

As Grandma used to say: “Little pitchers have big ears.”

Rise Above the Storms

One day a man sat near the peak of a mountain, enjoying his spot in the sunshine. From his position he could look down onto the dark clouds of a rainstorm sweeping over the valley below. As he watched, an eagle burst through the rain clouds and soared upward into the sunshine. As it flew toward the peak he was sitting on, he caught flashes of diamond-like raindrops on its wings.

The man was glad that he wasn’t down there in the valley, buffeted and drenched by the storm—and probably the eagle was glad to be above the turbulence now, too. The bird might have been content to stay down there perched on a tree branch if it had not been for the storm, which drove it to seek a better place above. Suddenly the man saw a spiritual parallel in that scene.

Troubles make us miserable, knock us off our comfortable perch, drive us to go higher. Miserable and weary of the struggle, we reach up to something higher than ourselves. We turn to God for help. Then when we burst into His divine sunlight the peace and comfort He gives us more than compensate for the turbulence of our trials.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18


Faith in God does not exempt us from trials — it sees us through them.

Creature Comforts Indeed!

“Heat the church? Spend money on a stove? Whatever For?”

The little Scottish congregation was divided; some muttered that this was going too far while others nodded in approval when the subject was brought up at the parish meeting. Other churches were installing stoves, so why not. They definitely added to the comfort of the flock — which might well mean more of the flock would come to services on chilly winter days.

Of course this touch of creature-comfort or “catering to the flesh” in the very kirk itself met with resistance from some of the older folks who’d worshiped all their lives without extra heat. You just dress warmer in winter. Any fool knows that.

No one frowned on this indulgence more than one dear old grannie I’ll call Mrs Ross. She was adamant that there was no need to heat the kirk. Her forefathers didn’t have heated churches and what was good enough for them was good enough for her—and should be good enough for the young ones. But she was outnumbered by the more self-indulgent ones in the congregation. A stove was purchased and installed.

Of course the news spread rapidly through the close-knit Scottish community. And the next Sunday was a cold day, so this old Grandmother came to church as warmly wrapped as ever — if not more so.

After the first hymns Grannie Ross removed her heavy coat with a flourish and mutters. After the opening prayer, in another protest against the unnecessary heat, she discarded her thick sweater. When the minister stood up to bring the message, Grandma put on her star performance: she took off her wool scarf, mopped the sweat from her brow and fell over in a faint.

This little act caused the sensation she’d hoped. Several members rushed to assist her. Now everyone could see the dire consequences of having the kirk heated!

As an usher helped her out of the church, he whispered in her ear, “If you’re so hot today, Mrs Ross, how much more will you suffer next Sunday when we actually light the stove?”