What is the big picture? What is the point of it all – all the hours of prepping, all the hard work, researching and sacrifices? To get to Heaven, where “no eye has seen, no ear heard what the Lord has prepared for the who loves him.” See that?! the Lord prepares too! but He is preparing for our coming home. Heaven is our true home and we are but pilgrims on our journey home. He is planning a big home-coming party for us. He is preparing a place for us and He wants us to be with him forever. “And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3-4
Jesus wants to be with us here and now, not only in heaven. He wants us to find him and be with him in our day to day activities, our prepping, our frustrations and laughter, our joys and sorrows. I for one can get very wrapped up in life, whether it be family problems, prepping, work, etc. I can also fall prey to fear and I think many of us are like that. Fear is a great danger. The Lord said many many times, “do not be afraid.” “Take courage.” “Let not your hearts be troubled.” He knows full well the human condition, the fallout of original sin yet he still encourages us not to fear. How are we to do that in a practical way? In our day to day life? How can we spiritually prepare? Here is one way that may help, a tool in your spiritual survival box.
Some call it lectio divino or divine reading, meditation, reflection – call it what you will. Whatever you call it, it is a way to get to know the Lord and draw closer to him. Basically, you take a section from the Bible and chew it up in your mind and heart. Let me give you an example. Take the Gospel, the story of the woman at the well, John 4:5-42. Before you begin to read, pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to enlighten you and be with you in the reading, to come to know Jesus better, to experience Him just as real as you experience your spouse, your children running around the house, your family and friends and people you bump into on the street. Go into the reading asking, “what does this say about Jesus?” Don’t we want to know more the one who saved us, redeemed us, died for us on the wood of the cross, rose from the dead, conquering death and sin, and is now preparing a place for us, with his heavenly Father? The one who taught us to call God Father, and made us adopted sons and daughters of the Most High.
Read it once, then read it again slowly. Perhaps a particular sentence or phrase struck you, jumped out of the page, stood out. Perhaps you raised your eyebrows at a particular something. Listen to the still, small voice. If nothing stands out, pick a sentence. In the story of the woman at the well the sentence that stood out for me was when Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.” Now we are going to pick that apart, continually asking, “what does this say about Jesus?” In an objective way try to find out what Jesus’ words reveal about himself. I don’t mean do we think it means, but something we can say is a fact about Jesus revealed by His Words. The way to do this is to get to the nitty gritty of the meaning of words. Simply pick apart the sentence word by word. Sounding technical, huh? Give it a chance. You will be amazed at what you can learn from doing this. Part of this is about having a hunger for Him, and knowledge of his Word.
So, in this sentence the first word we would look at is “food.” A very popular word, rich with a lot of meaning. Ask, “what is food?” Food is nourishment for the body. You can even go to Webster’s dictionary where the definition we see is, “material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy” and “something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies“. Okay, good. Now let’s move onto the next word. “Do” Do means to “bring to pass, to carry out”, and “Will” means desire or wish, and request, command.
For brevity I am going to stop at those three words. Just from that we can say that the will of Him who sent Jesus is that which nourishes, sustains and supplies Jesus. Jesus is fed, nourished, sustained by doing, carrying out, the desire of Him who sent him. That will bring further questions. Who sent him? The sentence may or may not answer that question but we can fall back on our previous studies and say that His Father sent him. You can ask, what is “father” but let’s stick to just this for now. Keep going back to the question, “What does this say about Jesus?” That his sustenance comes from doing his fathers request. Doing his Father’s will is Jesus’ vital process. It gives him energy. Now if I want to be like Jesus I can say, “doing the fathers will sustains and gives me energy. It invigorates me! it isn’t a drag, it is a joy. A joy to serve, a joy to work, to sow, to reap. That is usually not what I think when I am breaking my back! My thoughts say that work is a bore, a drag, drains the energy out of me. But Jesus says otherwise. Jesus sustains me, his love fills me up. it is the food I need. If you really want to go deep you can go to the origin of the word, often the Latin , the root of the word.
I may ask, “how am I to live this word today? This beautiful message I received from God. 1. Be joyful throughout the day and in my toils. Yes, I may get tired, but remember that doing gods will gives me energy, this will invigorate me through out the day. And that is what i will try to do, through out the day I will reflect back on what I learned in my morning reading (because that is the best time to do it – first things, when i am fresh, when my mind clear and not bogged down with the activity and thoughts of the day) of the scripture. I even write it down on a little piece of paper and carry it with me as a tangible and physical reminder. When I go to the bathroom or have a moment alone I pull the paper out of my pocket and see written “Jesus sustains me, Jesus gives me energy, Jesus loves me, Jesus is with me” – whatever gem it is I learned/received that morning, can carry me through the day. It takes discipline, but it is a habit that can quickly come especially because the reward is so good. It is nice to be invigorated when tired!
What you learn will sometimes console you, sometimes challenge you. For example, In Matthew 11:29 when Jesus says that he is gentle, that may sound nice, until you want to curse the guy or gal who just cut you off! “Jesus is gentle. Jesus is gentle” becomes the constant prayer. Or when I am a person who has a hard time speaking up for myself and the reading revealed to me that “Jesus is assertive,” and I want to follow in his footsteps! I speak up. If I don’t, then no biggie. At the end of the day I can reflect on how I was faithful to the word. Was I faithful to this word? Maybe the answer is “yes, I renewed my strength in your word,” or “well, I could’ve talked less and worked more today.” Did I hope in God’s word? Did I love? That is the big picture too! Charity – did I serve today? Because, “if I speak in the tongue of men and angels …and have not love, I gain nothing…So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-13. Jesus also says: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there also your heart will be.” Matthew 6:20.
What are we storing up in heaven? Our retreat houses are full, our BOBs are ready, but what have we stored in our heavenly, eternal home, where our Father waits for us? Works (Charity) are good, but we also need to know the Lord – know him like we know our relatives, co-workers, best friend. Wouldn’t that be nice to say? I know Jesus as my best friend. After all he is. He is always there, always strong, always forgiving, and always freeing us.