(The IRL SDG Bible study has started again and since we LOVE community, I’m bringing the teaching to you, too, our online SDG community. We are picking back up in John chapter 6. If you are just joining us, you can find all previous chapters we have studied here. Last week’s lesson on John 6:22-40 can be found here. Eventually, I’ll get my act together and make a new menu.)
Three times this week my glasses fogged up. Twice while I was out on a run and once after showering. Normally, I wouldn’t notice these things, much less blog about them, but this time, this fogging up was significant.
At Bible study, I didn’t teach. My sweet friend, Amy, offered to do it and the words God gave her to frame our study of John 6:41-71 were “perspective” and “focus.”
“Every time your glasses fog up, think about ways God might be trying to shift your perspective.” The disciples heard what Jesus was saying about being the bread and the wine – his body and blood we must eat and drink because He would become sacrifice. They were locked in their own perspective, the picture Jesus was trying to paint must have been like a Jackson Pollock painting where they were trying to find a landscape within it. It didn’t compute.
And so many of them just walked away. They weren’t willing to stop looking for a landscape and just take in the new perspective, accepting the words just as Jesus said them, with faith. They thought their Messiah was to be a king and come with all the accoutrements a king normally possesses.
Jesus didn’t fit the mold. Jesus didn’t fit in the landscape. Jesus was trying to paint a different picture and they weren’t interested in his color choice – his red to cloak our black to turn us white. His blood to run over our sin and miraculously turn us pure again.
They ask Jesus, “How can anyone accept it?” It’s clearly too much for them, so they couldn’t conceive of anyone’s ability to take it all in and understand.
But then there is Peter and in this moment, he understands. Maybe not the fullness of the words Jesus says. But he understands the Spirit is moving, that the Spirit is true, that he is witnessing the key to eternal life.
Peter won’t always see the big picture. He’s known for denying Jesus, deserting Him just a few chapters later. But in this moment? This moment I think Peter recognizes the Spirit and that fleck of light? It changes how he takes in these words that Jesus utters. Jesus says in verse 63:
“The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
“Simon Peter replied, ‘Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.'”
I wonder if Peter came up against his own human effort to understand and instead of trying to make the words compute, he just surrendered to the Spirit. How many times have I sat and tried to figure out the events around me, the words God is saying to me, and when they don’t compute, I just keep stewing and figuring and (sometimes) pouting?
It’s hard to reject the flesh. It’s hard to lay down the human effort. It’s hard for me to not rely on how things should work and just hand it over the the Worker of all Good Things.
But to surrender to the re-focusing, I believe, is freedom. I’m in the middle of this book launch. And the Type A Jen is screaming at Trying to Surrender it all Jen because it’s messy. And I’m flying by the seat of my pants. And balls are getting dropped. And the script is not begin followed. And the inner war is stressing me out to be honest, but I keep my new mantra in front of me…
Worship before work.
Because the Holy Spirit is with me when I worship. There I create an invitation for the perspective shift. I realize in that space that God is God and I am not and how grateful I am that this is how it works. When I put aside worship, I act out of my own will. My own strength. I see what I want to accomplish and might miss what I need to accomplish.
Pardon me, while I wipe off my glasses.