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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lord Reign in Me

Did you ever have one of those days when you feel like you've been completely undone ... by Jesus?  I tend to think of following Christ as this orderly kind of movement.  I read my Bible every day and pray every day.  But there's something about getting older in Christ that just seems to make the circumstances that I'm in not quite so relevant to my spiritual state.  I had one of those days this past week, on Wednesday. 

I've just started reading through the New Testament, and was in Matthew 14 and beyond.  This is where Jesus learns that John the Baptist - who had baptized him - was beheaded.  In itself it's a grizzly story.  Herod had arrested John the Baptist and had him in prison.  But on Herod's birthday, his wife's daughter danced for him and it so pleased him that he offered to give her anything she wanted.  The little tart that she was, was coached by her mother and asked for John the Baptist's head on a platter!  Having no spine, Herod was unable to decline such a request - so he granted her that wish.

When Jesus found out, He was naturally very saddened by this awful news.  John's disciples went and got the headless body to bury it.  Then they went to tell Jesus what had happened.  Matthew 14:13 says that, "When Jesus heard what had happened, He withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place."  I can just imagine Jesus' sadness.  Most likely, He needed to grieve and pour out His broken heart to His Father in prayer.  But it was not to be. 

Matthew 14:13-14 continues, "Hearing of this (Jesus withdrawing by boat to be alone), the crowds followed Him on foot from the towns.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them and healed their sick."  Did you catch that?  Jesus is going by boat to a place of quiet solitude to grieve and pray.  He needed to be alone.  But when He got there, He was again confronted with a crowd of people who wanted Him to deal with all of their pain and misery instead.  And Jesus had compassion on them.

Now if you're familiar with this story, you know that the next thing that happened is that evening approached and there was no food for the crowd.  The disciples wanted to send the crowds away so they could buy food in the villages.  But Jesus said no.  Instead He took the five loaves of bread and two fish, blessed them and fed 5,000 men, plus the women and children that accompanied them ... with 12 baskets of leftovers!

But again, Jesus needed to be alone.  The death of John the Baptist still grieved Him.  So Matthew 14:22-23 says that, "Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd.  After He dismissed them, Jesus went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray."  Now I can just imagine what that looked like.  As I said earlier, I've no doubt that Jesus probably wept with grief and poured His heart out to God in prayer.  But again Jesus would be interrupted.

As the night wore on, Jesus was alone, but the boat with the disciples was in considerable trouble.  They were far from land and the wind had blown up some pretty choppy waves.  So Jesus went to them ... out in the middle of the water!  This is the place where another miracle is recorded ... as Jesus walked on water.  And of course it's the story where Peter gets out of the boat and walks on water too.

So here's the part that shook me this past Wednesday.  I'm reading this account and I'm picturing Jesus.  I can just imagine how I would feel if I had just heard that one of my dearest friends had been beheaded like that.  I would be consumed with grief.  So I was picturing Jesus ... trying to get away from the demanding crowds just so He could deal with His own grief.  But no matter how hard Jesus tried to take care of Himself, the crowds demanded that He take care of them instead.  And then there were those disciples He had to care for as well. 

This is who Jesus is though.  It is His character and nature.  You see, sacrificing His life on the cross for us was not the first act of sacrifice that Jesus made.  Throughout His entire life, we see stories like this, where Jesus was laying aside His own human needs to care for pitiful people like you and me.  Even as I type this blog now, my eyes are getting watery, considering how such a great man, such a great God, could love such a man as me like this.  And truly He does. 

When I think about who I was before I gave my life to Christ, I realize how far I have come.  Frankly raising someone from the dead wouldn't seem any more miraculous to me than where Jesus has brought me.  He raised me from something that seemed worse than dead.  And it's because of Jesus that I truly have hope.  But I started this blog today telling you how I was undone this past Wednesday.  It wasn't while I was reading this.

Later Wednesday morning, I had a meeting to attend and as I was driving to that meeting, I was listening to some of my favorite Christian music in the car.  And there it was, one of my favorite songs.  Lord, Reign in Me (by Benton Brown).  If you don't know it, here are the words:

Lord Reign In Me
Over all the earth You reign on high
every mountain stream, every sunset sky
But my one request, Lord my only aim
Is that You reign in me again

Lord reign in me, reign in Your power
Over all my dreams, in my darkest hour
You are the Lord of all I am
So won't You reign in me again?

Over every though, over every word
may my life reflect the beauty of my Lord
You mean more to me than any earthly thing
So won't You reign in me again?


So picture me driving down the road in heavy traffic, singing this song at the top of my lungs.  And then it happened.  The mental imagery that I'd been through that morning with Jesus in Matthew 14, combined with my love for Him and my desire to honor and glorify Him with my life.  And the tears started to well up in my eyes.  Then they started to roll down my cheeks ... just as I arrived at my meeting place.  I had to pull the car over and just sit there, singing this song from the depths of my heart.  He had done it again.  Through Jesus, and because of Jesus, I was completely undone.

If you're reading this blog, my prayer is that you too can be completely undone by none other than Jesus Himself.  I have to tell you, there's no joy on earth that even comes close to that moment when I am in Him ... and He is in me ... and we both know it. 

Over all my dreams and in my darkest hour - Lord reign in me!

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