Monday, August 25, 2014

A "Mary" Kind of Faith

            “On the third day, a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’
            ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied.  ‘My time has not yet come.’
            His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”  (Mark 2:1-5)

            This, to me, is an excellent example of coming to God with a need, in faith.
            But it is so different from how I think we normally approach God.  We don’t just make a request; we tell God exactly how we think He should answer.  We tell Him our plans and dreams and wants and “needs,” and we hope that He blesses them.  We expect Him to agree with us and bless us.  And we are discouraged and confused when He doesn’t.

             But look at what Mary did.  She didn’t tell Jesus how to handle the situation or what the best course of action would be.  She simply stated a need.  “They have no more wine.”  (And in fact, she was interceding for someone else, not making a self-centered request.)  And she trusted that Jesus would do something about it.  And she didn’t give Him all sorts of suggestions about how He could help; she simply trusted that whatever He did would be the right thing. 

            And not only that, she didn’t ask and then wring her hands in anxiousness and doubt.  And then ask again.  And then ask some more.  She stated a need and then prepared for the answer.  She instructed the servants to be ready to do whatever He said.  She was so sure that He would do something that she prepared to receive the answer.  And then when her part was done – telling Jesus of the need, trusting that He would answer, doing her part to prepare for it - she waited for Jesus to do His part.  She didn’t help Him along or usher Him up from His seat or point out the water jars or remind Him over and over of the need and how thirsty the guests were getting.  She waited on Him in faith to answer in the best time and best way.  She watched His answer unfold. 
            (And I believe that if He had said, “No, it’s not time,” she would have accepted it and trusted Him anyway, knowing that He could have done it but that He had His reasons for why He didn’t.  But in this case, I think there must have been something in His voice, in His “Dear woman,” that made her sure He would do something about it.)  
            Oh, how I can learn from Mary’s example!  Oh, how much I ask in anxiousness and doubt, wring my hands, remind Him over and over again about how He should answer in a way that suits me!  But my job is to ask, to let Him know of the need.  His job is to answer.  My job is to wait on Him, to prepare my heart for the answer (sometimes by examining my heart and life for anything that may block His answer or power or blessing), to be willing to accept whatever His answer is, and to watch for the His answer to unfold.  His job is to pick the best timing for the answer.
            His time and way is often very different from ours.  And we need to be more about humble submission, following, waiting, and intercession for others than about being in control, leading, forcing our plans, and selfish requests. 
            I oftentimes make my part too big and His part to little.  I live like I have to know what the future holds.  I have to figure out the best answer.  I have to convince God to do what I think He should do.  I have to put all the pieces in place and get the ball rolling and make sure everything is running as I planned.  And all God has to do is agree with me and bless my plans and efforts.
            Yes, of course, if we want things to work out as best as possible, we need God’s blessing.  But God’s part is so much bigger than that and our part is so much smaller.  God’s part is deciding the best course of action, putting all the pieces in place, opening the door when it is time, knowing the future, working everything out for good, etc. 
            And our part is to kneel before Him in humility, weakness, need, and dependency, and to present our requests to Him.  To remain vitally connected to Him through His Word and through prayer.  To prepare our hearts and lives for His answer, examining them for anything that He wants us to deal with before we can receive the answer.  And then to wait on Him in faith (which can oftentimes be a long, long wait as God purifies our hearts, priorities, focus, “needs,” requests, etc.), to see what He does, to listen for what He wants us to do, and to always remain obedient to Him and seek His glory in our current position and in all we do need, even before the answer comes and even if He doesn’t answer as we expected Him to.
            But let us never miss one of His answers because we failed to bring our need to Him or failed to believe that He would answer.  Like Mary, let us approach Him with our needs and prepare our hearts in faith that He will do something.  And whatever He does, we can trust that it will be the right thing!  And whether He chooses to say “No, My grace is sufficient for you” or to turn the water into wine, may His name be praised!