Episode 1. If Only You Realised
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Sometimes – we wander on through life head down, beetling along and all of a sudden you look up and things are – well – not what we expected. We’re lost…and, well, we don’t know the way …
Sometimes – we wander on through life head down, beetling along and all of a sudden you look up and things are – well – they’re not what we expected. You’re lost…and, well, you don’t know the way back home.
How ya doin? It’s fantastic to be with you again at the start of a new week and this week on the program we’re going to experience some, well close encounters, close encounters with God. Let me explain. One of my favourites stories, as a child, was the story of Hansel and Gretel, that wonderful fairy tale about the brother and the sister that get lost in the woods and stolen by the wicked witch who wants to cook them in her oven. And they escape and the way that they find their way home, in this dark forest, is that Hansel had dropped little pieces of bread along the way and they were able to trace their way back and eventually their dad finds them.
It’s a great story. Now sometimes in life, well it feels as though we’re lost in that dark and dangerous forest and we look around and we start wondering, ‘Where the blazes is God? And if I’m lost, how am I going to get back home to Him?’ Well, what I discovered, because I’ve been in that forest, is that there are plenty of markers around us to show us the way home and in fact, the more I look the more I realise, they’re not like little Hansel’s and Gretel’s pieces of bread, they’re actually thumping great neon signs that you just can’t miss.
I was talking with someone the other day going through some really tough times in life. Now we should never trivialise that, when you’re in that place, when you’re in that dark forest, it’s just plain tough, it just is. The question is what do you do with that? Do you just sit down and cry and give up? And no doubt tears will be shed, no doubt fear will set in, absolutely they will, you can’t deny that, that’s life. But the question is, what do you do with that? Because that’s the question that really matters in those times.
The problem that we face is, that in those times, see conventional thinking doesn’t work, logic and reason and what makes sense. How do you apply those when nothing makes sense. When you’re hurting so much and it’s so dark and you can’t see which way is which. How do you apply those when, well it’s that thinking that got you there in the first place? Now you might say to me, ‘Berni, that’s not fair. So often things happen in our lives, they’re not our fault.’ That’s true, absolutely.
This person I just mentioned, she’s the carer of a disabled person and she’s having a tough time with the health system and she’s tired and there’s no support and she’s despondent. That’s not her fault, it’s not. She faces a system that’s against her, a system based on conventional thinking, a system she can’t fight and win against. There are no answers in that system, there’s no help in that place. You see conventional thinking – the conventional approach won’t work. And that’s what I want to explore today, unpack that a bit.
What do you do when the obvious doesn’t work anymore in that dark and dangerous forest. Hmm, Jesus talked a lot about this and there’s one passage in particular that I want to share with you in the few minutes that we have together today. Matthew chapter 11, have a listen. Matthew 11 and it begins in verse 16, its really good stuff. He says:
To what can I compare this generation, they’re like kids sitting in a market place and calling out to the others, ‘we’re playing the flute for you but you are not dancing. We sang a dirge and you didn’t mourn.’ For John the Baptist, he came neither eating or drinking and they said, ‘Oh that guys got a demon’ and I came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Here’s a glutton and a drunkard and a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ Then Jesus began to announce the very cities in which His miracles had been performed because they didn’t turn back to Him.
Woe to you Korizin! Woe to you Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashe. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for them on the day of Judgement than for you, and you Capernaum, will you be lifted to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained this day but I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of Judgement, than for you.
At that time Jesus said, Father, “I praise you. You are the Lord of heaven and earth because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little kids. Yes Father, for that was your good pleasure.” (Matthew 11:16-26)
See, what He’s saying here is, you bumble along in what you’ve always known in your conventional way of thinking, in whatever city or town or suburb you happen to live in and you’re completely missing the point. God sends along someone different, John the Baptist, you know, he came before Jesus and he ate locusts and honey and wore camel hair clothes. He was different but he was from God and Jesus said, ‘You rejected him and you rejected me’.
You see how different Gods ways are from our ways. God sends Jesus who’s so different to what we expect but we get set in our ways and no matter that they’re ruining our lives, we just get set in our ways of thinking.
We accept the worlds ways of thinking and behaviour and someone tells us long enough that the earth is flat or square and no matter whether it’s true or not, we just end up believing that stuff and so what we do is we reject God. We reject Him in our patterns of thinking and our patterns of behaviour, we do it like Korizin did, we do it like Bethsaida did, we do it like Capernaum did. Instead of turning to Him, we like lemmings leap off the cliff. We fight fire with fire; we go for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
We’re lost in that forest, all of a sudden we’re starting to live out the fruit of our wrong behaviour and what do we turn to, we turn to conventional patterns of behaviour and thinking, the stuff we’ve always known, the stuff that these people and these cities turned to that Jesus criticised.
And Jesus said, “No, there’s an alternative. If you’ve discovered that all this stuff isn’t working.”
Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened and let Me give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me because I am gentle, I’m humble in my heart and you’ll find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
When we’re in that forest, that dark and lonely and dangerous place, tired and weary of beating our heads up against a brick wall, carrying heavy burdens and we see that there’s no way out, that there’s no answer, wow Jesus is saying there’s an alternative.
We looked at this passage just recently, here on the program and again here today because it’s an important one. His ways, His yoke, He’s calling us to Him, He’s calling us to get close to Him because He is in that place there with you and with me. How long are we going to beat our heads up against a brick wall? What was His criticism of Korizin and Capernaum? He says, ‘You’ve seen me. You’ve seen My miracles and yet, in the face of that evidence, you don’t turn back to me’.
Wake up! We can get so clever we think we can do it all and then we can’t. In the face of all that evidence we just sit there when Jesus is in that place all along, with answers, on the other side of that yoke, to pull with us, to put His strength behind us. Come on! Jesus is in this place.