It's funny how Divine Providence shows it's head in our lives. I try to be very open to and aware of "coincidental" things because really I don't believe in coincidence. I believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I choose to believe and deliberately see the activity of the Spirit in my live.
I had a run-in with the Spirit this morning.
He slapped me in the face.
And I cried like a baby.
It was a divine blessing.
Here's what happened.
I like to spend a portion of my mornings reading and in prayer/reflection. I have developed a semi-routine that includes reading a devotion from Morning by Morning, written by Charles Spurgeon (my favorite dead preacher). His daily devotions are always so gripping, so poignant, so rich. Today's was no exception. The scripture that he drew from today was John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them. He speaks of the glory and riches of our Lord and how we would be infinitely blessed to have a bird's portion from the bounty of Christ. He says "Had He given us some small pension from his royal coffers, we would have had cause to love Him eternally; but no, He will have His bride as rich as Himself...The boundless fullness of His all-sufficiency is as free to the believer as the air he breathes." He finishes his eloquent speech with a verse from a hymn titled When This Passing World Is Done:
When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know--
Not till then--how much I owe.
Needless to say, my heart was filled with gratefulness and humility from dwelling on those thoughts of love from and fellowship with God. It was moving, but I wasn't crying at this point. And let me just say, I am not a big cryer.
The Spirit wasn't done with me yet. (And He always knows which buttons to press, the rascal).
I have also been reading a devotional by Beth Moore that is purely about the life Jesus, so it is basically a reading through the Gospels. I have had this book for at least two years or more and I am on day 14 (out of 90!). Oh well. So Day 14 is short reading of Matthew 3:13-15. Two verses, not too difficult.
The story is about the baptism of Jesus. These two verses specifically are about Jesus approaching the Jordan River and asking (or telling?!) John the Baptist to baptize Him. A few verses prior John has been baptizing all of the people to repentance. His mantra, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near". They are coming to him, confessing their sins, being baptized, then moving towards a life of repentance. The Jordan River, at this point, is full of their confessed sins, all the dirt and junk that people had been carrying around; the filth of humanity.
Then Jesus appears. He arrives at the Jordan and requests to be baptized by John; It says that John tried to stop Him, saying "I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me".
There it is. That is where my heart was pierced. I was still not crying at this point; I was too overwhelmed, too stunned by His willingness to stoop to my level.
That's what He was telling me this morning through Spurgeon, Moore, and His Word.
I cried as I read Moore's fictional reflections on what might have been going through John's mind as Jesus approached him.
She tells of John a man called by God to prepare the way of the Lord. A man full of so much passion for the Word of God that came to him in the desert that if he didn't preach it He would have been consumed by it. He was a radical. A man with no fear and no intimidation because of the sureness of his message. So he goes to the river that day, not expecting anything but to declare a message to whomever would listen. It says that people came. A LOT of people came. Little did he know that the future he prophesied was to become his present.
When I read of John's encounter with the Messiah I wept like a child.
(summarized version of Moore's interpretation)
" I was just raising a repentant man from the waters when I saw someone out of the corner of my eye walk to the water's edge. As I think back, how those waters kept from parting that day, I'll never know....Suddenly I became oblivious to all but the overpowering presence of the One. There He stood, looking straight at me, through me. Oh, it was Him all right! I had been preparing for him all my life, and yet I was not ready. All I could do was look at Him and shake my head, 'No. Please, no! Not me. I have need to be baptized by You!' ...He answered, 'Let it be for now. It is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.' So I consented, shaking all over. I placed my left hand on His back and my right hand on His chest. I felt the heartbeat of the Son of God. As if in slow motion, I leaned Him back into those waters, His weight submitting to my hands....He walked out of those waters and into our lives, interrupting a fallen world with grace and truth. My name is John. I am the son of a simple man and woman. I baptized the Messiah that day."
I am stupefied by the willingness of the Spirit to make clear to me the things He wants me to know. He will meet me wherever I am and make known to me His ever-present self.
I am stunned by the willingness of God to stoop to my level. He will let me feel His very own heartbeat if only I will come close.
I am overwhelmed by the willingness of Jesus to give me so much more than I deserve. He has put the cup of His love and grace to my lips, I must drink freely.
Again, in the words of Charles Spurgeon, "Behold the superlative liberality of the Lord Jesus, for He has given us His all.
Indeed He has.
- the rave