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Understand?

Master Musician

Have you ever felt as though you were being stretched, pressed, broken, crushed, torn, drained or poured out? If so, have you ever wondered if there might be a purpose in what you endure? Have you ever asked the 'Why?' question?

In my life, during such "seasons", I have often found that it is not always easy to understand....

Recently, during a Communion service, God whispered words to my heart that brought together several scriptures into tangible clarity, an "aha" moment of sorts.

As Communion began, there was a moment in which I felt my spirit transfixed, as a guitarist at our church played skillfully on the guitar.

The music was so moving and beautiful. In my mind, it became a living "picture" of how God desires to "play" us as an instrument. My friend (the guitarist) stood there making that beautiful music. The guitar itself didn't need to "do" anything.

I sat there contemplating the beautiful "music" that God desires to make through us, and how little we actually have to "do" with it. It reminds me of Isaiah 64:8 that says: "Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand."

How preposterous for clay to jump up and tell the potter how to form it ... or for the guitar to jump up and try to play a melody on itself. Yet, how often do I believe I can or should have a "say" in how God "plays" the melody of my life?

All I really need to "do" is relax and "be" what He has made me to be, and allow Him to play skillfully upon my life as only He can do. At times, that may mean I feel some discomfort ... as I let Him press against me, in order for beautiful music to be released.


Loaves and Fishes

As the Communion "elements" were being passed, and I held the "bread" in my hand, again I was transfixed. Here was a tangible "symbol" of the "flesh" of my Savior, broken on my behalf ... in order to bring spiritual nourishment to my hungry, needy soul.

My mind flashed to the scripture that says: "for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." (Mark 6:52)

That sentence has always seemed somewhat cryptic to me. This statement comes after recounting the story in which Jesus walks out to the wind tossed boat ... terrifying the disciples, who thought He was a ghost. Earlier that day, before they left the shore in the boat, He had fed at least five thousand people with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish the disciples had been able to find among the crowd.

The obvious meaning of this "not understanding" verse may be that the disciples were too hard hearted to realize that Jesus had the power of God, for He WAS indeed God. If He could multiply the loaves, surely He could walk on the lake and calm the wind.

As I looked at the "bread" in my hand, I wondered if maybe there was more that they "had not understood" about those loaves.


Bread of Life

In the book of John (chapter 6), after this Gospel recounts the story of the "feeding of the five thousand", Jesus refers to Himself as the "bread of life". The people are looking for more miracles from Him, and imply that perhaps it would be nice if He would give them Manna (verse 31) as God had given their forefathers in the desert.

I have a feeling they didn't fully "understand" about the loaves either. I think that perhaps Jesus tried to teach something else about "the loaves" at another time....

As He was about to lay down His life, Luke recounts the following, during the "Last Supper": "And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' " (Luke 22:19)

His body was broken so that the nourishment He had to offer could feed thousands ... millions ... and then some. Not unlike the loaves that miraculously fed so many on that hillside.


Wine

And what about the "wine"?

"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.' "
(Luke 22:20)

My mind meandered over to other scriptures in which Paul talks of being "poured out like a drink offering". (2 Timothy 4:6 and Philippians 2:17)

Surely, these scriptures hearken back to the Old Testament in which there were literal "drink offerings" sacrificed to God. (By the way, in case you don't know, this "cup" and these drink offerings would contain wine.)


Oil and Wine

Also, I found a scripture that made me ponder this "wine" issue further.... It is recorded in Luke (10:30-37) during the telling of the "Good Samaritan" parable. I don't remember ever noticing this before, but when the Good Samaritan actually came to help the man, this is what it says he did:

"He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him." (Luke 10:34)

He poured on oil and wine. I don't know the medical practices of that culture, so perhaps that was "standard" ... yet I find it fascinating that he poured on two VERY symbolic substances to heal the man's wounds.

Oil is a frequent symbol regarding the Spirit, frequently used for anointing ... and then, there's "wine". Yes, symbolically representing the Blood of Jesus ... "This cup is the new covenant in my blood...."

Interesting that the man who was truly a good neighbor, bound up this man's wounds with ... well ... in essence, Jesus.


Drink Offering

Another fascinating thing, is that a very early Biblical reference to the "drink offering", actually comes from Genesis 35:14-15, right after Jacob met with God, when He changed Jacob's name to Israel. "Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel."

In that culture, they would often set up such pillars to remind them of events ... and again, interesting that on the pillar that marked his encounter with God, he pours out a drink offering--likely consisting of wine, and oil....


Understand?

So all of these images converge, and make me wonder: Do I truly "understand" about the loaves ... and the fish ... about the wine ... about the oil?

Do the hands of the Almighty desire to take hold of my life, bless me, and break me, and allow me to partake in Jesus' endeavor to feed the multitudes? Does He want to take the few loaves of bread and a couple fish that my life represents, and distribute them among His body?

Does He wish to pour my life out as a "drink offering", letting Jesus' blood that courses through my veins, flow forth to anoint the wounds of those who are my "neighbors"?

Do His hands desire to press against the waiting wood of my life, and pluck the strings He has tuned with the perfect amount of tension, and make beautiful music that will please Him and heal others?

Does He want to do that in your life? In all of our lives? Is that how He plans to miraculously feed these famished masses residing on this planet ... to quench their thirst ... to heal their wounds?

Just wondering ... pondering ... and maybe for the first time, "understanding" a little more about the "loaves"...

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)


December 9, 2004

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