“The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. They will burst into bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35:1-2a, Common English Bible) Read all of Isaiah 35 here.
When was the last time you got impatient? Was it at the store, standing in that long check-out line? Or was it sitting in traffic, wondering why the light is green and nobody is moving? Maybe it was with your children, or with your parents?
This time of year we are more prone to get impatient.
We are rushing and hurrying along to get everything in order. There are presents to be bought, ordered and wrapped. Then, there are travel plans to be made and meals to be cooked. And on top of all that, vacation time is coming so our work load increases.
And when we finally have a few moments of rest, there is someone or something that beckons our attention. And impatience sets in.
And we fuss.
Now when John heard in prison about the things the Christ was doing, he sent word by his disciples to Jesus, asking, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Matthew 11:2-3, Common English Bible)
Do you remember P. D. Eastman’s book Are You My Mother? The little bird hatches out of her egg and begins searching for her mother. She walks right past the mother bird because she does not recognize her or know what she looks like. She proceeds to ask different animals, “Are you my mother?”
We can identify with the little bird. There are times and moments in our lives when we search for Jesus. But, we don’t recognize him. We may walk right past him, not even knowing it is him.
In Matthew 11, John’s life has taken an unexpected turn. For John, he was imprisoned, and asks, “Are you my Jesus?” For us, we may be imprisoned in our need to be first or right. Or imprisoned in our fussing and complaning. Imprisoned in our busyness.
Or we are imprisoned by the holiday.
How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity, Morgan Guyton, Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
I first met Morgan Guyton about five years ago at a required event for soon-to-be clergy in the Virginia Conference. We, and dozens more, were gathered at a college campus for a week for what I like to refer to as “Pastor Bootcamp.”
The distinct memory I have of Morgan was from an evening at a Mexican restaurant (one of many during the week). Over beer and chips and salsa, a group of us found ourselves in a deep theological conversation. For anyone who knows Morgan, you will not be surprised that he was at the helm of this conversation. In between scoops of salsa, Morgan would raise yet another question. Not to be argumentative, but to authentically seek more knowledge.
I was on my iPhone, causally scrolling through my Twitter feed, when I realized that there were a lot of things being said about Paris. I turned the news on, and saw the reports of what would be multiple attacks across the city, killing hundreds. I like many have been in a state of shock over the events. To the point that my journaling was just a list of words or phrases, no complete sentences, reflecting the impossibility of complete thoughts forming.
Today, I attempted to form that list of words and phrases into a prayer:
Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is known for a lot of things. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal pastor. He took a young adult Bible study into being nine weeks into a new church plant. He is the pastor who officiated the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He and his wife, DawnCheré, star in the a new reality show, Rich in Faith, on the Oxygen channel. And this week, he adds author to that list.
Wilkerson’s book, Sandcastle Kings, uses four powerful stories from Luke 7 to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in organized religion. By examining the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, Wilkerson helps the reader take a closer look at all the ways in which we build sand castles that will one day be wiped away by the storm.