"Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel." John 5:19-20 (NKJV)
I think that so many of the questions us Christians cane come up with today can boil down to this one simple thing. Or maybe it's not so simple. I think of many of the speakers who we've heard at church who talk about how they travel the world and they have seen people healed of all kinds of diseases and deformities. We've heard from a speaker who's ministry has raised over 400 people from the dead- verified dead people! We hear about miraculous instances of money being transferred in large amounts to someone who needs it- and we've heard of supernatural debt cancellation even. And yet... and yet we don't see any of these things manifesting here. One of my children gets a simple cold, and we pray for it every day during school, but the cold still hangs around for weeks on end. We pray for Andy to find some odd jobs to do so that we can pay bills and buy Christmas presents, and there's nothing there...
Yet there's always hope. Maybe this will be the time! So we pray again for healing to come upon that little one and for the cold to be gone. We've never seen the instantaneous healing, but I can tell you that we've never had a cold go beyond a cold. So many times we hear of other people whose colds turn into bronchitis or pneumonia or something else, but our never, ever do. Is that because we've prayed for healing? So maybe we've stopped something greater from trying to invade that little one's body? It's entirely possible.
But the more I spend time reading in my Bible and just meditating on thoughts of the supernatural and miraculous, and I can't help but realize that I'm missing something. I've experimented with taking dominion over the earth with my gardening. Several years ago a did a tomato plant grow out in the winter, where I started a few plants, and then blessed them every single day. One plant did not receive the same blessing every day, and in fact was less than half the size of the blessed plants when all was said and done. It was a simple blessing, something like "I call you blessed plants, wonderful plants. Be healthy and multiply in Jesus' name". Last year when I started some seeds I blessed them by reciting scripture over them- a verse about multiplication. I had a good year of gardening, but not great. And I've been thinking on that. Why did my plant blessing experiment yield astounding results while my seed starting scripture reading didn't?
I think it's a matter of relationship. When I read about Jesus performing miracles, He plain out says that He only does what He sees His Father doing. That simple statement means that there is a relationship there. A relationship where Jesus knows exactly what God would have Him do. Would God have me bless my seeds and reap a bountiful harvest in my garden? I think He would love that, but if all I'm doing is reciting a bunch of words, I'm not doing anything different than the person on the other side of town who subscribes to witchcraft does. Reciting the right words- whether they're scripture or not- is not the key to doing anything for God's Kingdom. The key is the relationship with God. Can I see what my Father would have me do? It takes a real relationship to see that, to open up that door to something that would be life-changing.
The relationship with God is key to everything, I'm positive of that. All those speakers that I mentioned who I've heard speak talk about all the wonderful things they see God do... but what they don't always mention is how they got to that point. How many hours a day did they spend on their knees, pouring out their hearts to God and asking for justice for those who need it. How many days did they fast and spend that time in their Word, seeking God for clear direction. How many times did they eschew the pleasures of the now and decide to seek God instead. It's football season right now, and if someone was really into football they could watch games on TV at least three days a week, if not more. How many of these people were football fans, but for a time set apart those hours they could have been watching and enjoying football games, and instead spent time with God? I bet a good many of them.
The things that we read about Jesus doing in our Bibles are very much for us to do today as well. But we don't live in some fictional fantasy land where some of us are born with a natural gift of healing or of speaking to the winds. I read a lot of fantasy and fiction, and I happen to think that a lot of fantasy writers hear bits and pieces of what God would like to do with mankind here on earth, but they present it in a matter-of-fact way with magic and sorcery and different rules for different lands, when the only hard and fast rule is this: Jesus. I, too, can calm the winds of the storm and can multiply the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude, but FIRST I need to see my Father doing it. And I can't see that without a relationship. A real relationship with one-on-one time, with heart-to-heart talks, and with me spending time reading the very Book that my Father wrote just for me.
I've spent a lot of time in the gospels, reading the words that Jesus actually spoke. It started when I was looking for the right verses about gardening. I do think that taking in the scripture and learning it so that it can be recited is important, but a recitation is just a recitation unless there is something behind it. I've gone to plays in the past where a person on stage was simply reciting lines. Those plays are just so-so, and not something you want to go see again and again. However, a play where the actor or actress takes the time to learn their lines in addition to a good character study makes all the difference in the world. When they take the time to really get to know their character, to learn the nuances and the interactions with the other characters, they come across as believable and entertaining. We want to see those plays and those actors again and again. In the exact same way, we should be studying our lines- the Word of God- and also studying the character within. When we work to develop our character to match that of our Father God, we will find that relationship that we are all intensely craving.
It's not just the right words. It's not just a few prayers of supplication, it's relationship. A real and true relationship with God is where we'll find the answers to so many of our questions. Let's make time for Him today and see what keys He has for us, and what nuggets of wisdom He's just waiting for us to ask for. He's a Great, Loving Father like that.