So, this homeless guy walks into a church and starts overturning money tables and whipping people.
Not the best joke, but, it’s part of the way that I see Jesus. I don’t really picture a tame, quiet, hold the sheep Jesus, though I totally think that He’s the most loving being in the universe. I also see Him as a warrior-king with a tat on his thigh and an eye for vengeance (Revelation 19:16). I also picture Him as the “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” and, before you think that all the angels (the mighty undying angels with six wings and thunderous voices) have no choice but to serve him, remember that demons are just fallen angels who chose to serve the Archangel Lucifer. These crazy powerful beings choose to serve and obey this Jesus. He is a commander of the most complete, powerful, and willing army in the universe. And he commands all respect, glory and honor.
Or, what about this one, in Revelation 4:8 you have four “living creatures” (the only way that John could try to put human words to what he was seeing) covered completely in eyes saying to each other “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty- the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”
Think about that for one second. Right now, before the throne of the Almighty God, are four beings covered completely in eyes. These things can see more than any other creatures in all of creation and their conclusion- the one thing that consumes their sight and thoughts and mouths- is the holiness of God. Right now these beings are saying to each other “The only thing I can say is the only thing that I see. God is Holy, holy, holy and he’s always been holy, and he is holy now, and he will be holy forever!”
That’s the God I serve. That’s my Jesus.
I had to remember that today as I turned the key of a decently ancient white passenger van. The weather was a seasonal 101 and the breeze reminded me of that ride at Universal Studios where you walked through a burning building… Backdraft? I’m dating myself.
The wife and I had just spent the better part of 23 and 1/2 minutes in line at the boarder crossing (most of which I had spent watching a miserable looking man rake bits of more dead desert away from the less dead bits of desert. What a job. You think being a merry-go-round operator at a dying mall is a bum gig, it can always get worse.
It wouldn’t have been that bad except that in our haste we took the wrong van. Instead of driving the nicer new-ish Chevy with amenities like starting the first time, properly inflated tires, doors that opened, or air conditioning, yeah, we took the other one. Forty minutes into our trip and the wife was not a happy camper.
I tried cheering her when we shook and rattled our way to the front of the line with a little, “Do you want to put on your seat-belt?” inspirational speech, but the speech was met with a tired look that made me pity my new bride. It’s hard during times like those to not second guess yourself and fall prey to the lies that say that you are a bad leader and that if you want to suffer for Christ then that’s your thing, just don’t bring another person along for the ride. Lies.
“Hello!” I say, trying to look a little less like a glob of sweat then I actually feel. Maybe next time I’ll run a half marathon before taking my passport photo: I have a feeling that this will happen a lot.
“Where you all coming from?” the 46% nice lady said from behind her drab hat and construction site sunglasses.
I quickly explained that we were crazy people who were in search of Jesus and were trying to find him among the orphans of Juarez!
“Uh, huh. Is this your van?”
“No ma’am!” I said, imagining a prison cell with me and 47 other Mexicans who didn’t own their cars either baking like a sardine can in an oven (is that even a thing?).
“Well, I’m gonna need you to get out and open it up for me,” she said, clearly not amused.
And that’s when it happened. Without thinking, I turned the key towards me pulled it out of the ignition and went to open the back door before she got any more agitated.
Three minutes of poking and flashlight shining later she was satiated and we were on our way… ish.
“Ya’ll can go,” she waved the next car forward.
“Thank you! Have a great day!”
Key in. Twist, and… nothing.
Again. This time the starter kicks in with a wine. Nothing. My heart starts pounding. My mind fills with the image of me and my wife little puddles of sweat and silly-putty skin dead behind the van: death by heat and pushing.
I can hear my wife’s hand smack the dashboard, “Dear-God-please-let-this-van-start-in-the-name-of-Jesus-let-this-van-start.”
I love her.
I pray too.
The whine from the engine starts to slow a little as I know that the battery and the starter must be tired by now.
“Gonna blow out the starter,” the nice lady points out.
Please. Jesus. Please, don’t let me push this van across the boarder.
“Thought I was going to have to push it to America!” I say, casually to the nice lady, “Have a great day!”
You can’t turn the key the third time in the middle of an international security check point and call on a wimpy, well-groomed, smiling, effeminate Jesus. I don’t want that Jesus to show up and “save” me. That Jesus would be too scared to sweat or get dirty, and the more I hang out with orphans the more I am CONVINCED that Jesus had dirty hands. Maybe that’s why the Pharisees got so bent out of shape when He didn’t wash His hands before He ate?
And that was my day. The van didn’t start a few more times as we were out and about, buying food for Jesus, running errands, and finally picking up a new volunteer who flew in from Canada to enjoy the summer in Juarez. And every time we relied on a big Jesus that could hold that little van together, and every time He came through.
Remember that in your struggles this week: if your troubles seem too big, well, maybe your Jesus is just too weak.
Until next time,
Lose your life!
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:25-34