Weaving a path through life has its ups and downs. But what if there was a sure-fire way of navigating the twists and turns of life in a way that was filled with joy and peace, rather than stress and anxiety.
1. Life Is Not Easy
Our grass was getting long after all the good rain we’ve been getting in Mackay. On a Tuesday afternoon I (Jai) got home just early enough to mow the lawn before we were due for dinner with extended family. I got changed into my mowing clothes, went out and started trying to start the mower. 20 min later, after many attempts at starting the mower, I came back inside a bit frustrated. I couldn’t start the mower. I was hot and bothered. I now had to move on and get ready for dinner. And the lawn was still unknown. What was worse, I’d only had it serviced and supposedly ‘fixed’ just a month earlier. Now, we all know life is not easy - moments like this one prove it. But how do we make sense of those frustrating, unexpected moments?
2. Life Is Miraculous
After a huge day, Jay and I came home from a meeting together in the early evening. One daughter had cooked dinner. Two boys who had been at logger heads the day before, were playing harmoniously. After we’d chatted with them all briefly, the other daughter observed that we needed a few moments and distracted the two boys to another room, so that Jay and I could chat. Miracles happen :) But how do we make sense of those good and unexpected moments?
3. Life Is Responded To Differently
What’s really interesting is that two people can go through the same hard moments or the same miraculous moments and have totally different responses. One goes through hardship and comes out bitter. Another goes through something very similar and they come out richer and deeper and wiser. One goes through something miraculous and is changed by it for good, brimming with thankfulness. Another finds something to criticise and critique. Obviously how we respond to the different moments matters. Do we understand what’s really at stake?
4. Life Choice: Close Or Open Your Heart
In Mark 6 we see an interesting thing. Jesus is teaching up a storm in his hometown Nazareth, they’re aware of his miracles and people are amazed. But then they start to chatter amongst themselves - how is he doing this stuff? Isn’t this just the son of Mary? Don’t we know his brother’s and sisters? (Mark 6:2-3). As a result of this chatter, they close their hearts to him and are offended. We’re told Jesus couldn’t do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. Even though the people were experiencing something amazing, as a result of what they listen to, their hearts are closed and frankly, they miss out.
5. Life Is Found In Jesus, The Bread of Life
In contrast to this, Jesus is confronted twice, with a crowd of people who have been hanging on his every word (Mark 6 & 8). In fact, in the first instance Jesus is exhausted. But we’re told that both times he opens his heart in compassion (Mark 6:34, 8:2), teaches them and then performs a marvellous miracle by feeding the crowd of 5,000 families and then 4,000 people. Though he is in a difficult situation and drawn beyond himself, Jesus shows that his heart is filled with compassion, such that this difficulty just draws him out more. This is taken to the extreme when Jesus is confronted with the full horror of our hard human hearts, but instead of closes off his heart, he opens it and gives his life on the cross for us. His life is bread to our souls.
6. Life Is Navigated By Taking Care Which Bread You Eat
So this then leaves us with a decision. Will we eat the bread of the things that those around of us are saying? Or will we eat Jesus bread of compassion?
After Jesus has fed the second crowd of people, the religious leaders come to him and ask for a sign (Mark 8:11). They’ve just seen a marvellous sign miracle in the crowd that has been fed, but they like the people of Jesus home town, close off their hearts and don’t see it. Jesus warns his disciples not to eat their bread. ‘Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod’ (Mark 8:15). But sadly, it’s too late.
They think Jesus is talking about bread, they too have missed the significance of the miracles Jesus has been performing. They have not eaten Jesus bread of compassion, but instead it seems is taken in by the talk of the Pharisees and of those like Herod (who loved to listen to Jesus predecessor John, but ultimately had him put to death).
It is worth taking note this week, which bread we are eating. When we need some sustenance to keep us going, do we go to the Bible and Jesus words to get our bearings. Or do we go the news and social media. The outcome of that decision will shape the effect that life has on our hearts.
About the Author
Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.
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