IDOK DEVOTION FOR THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 2010
I had something else to share with you today but when I read my prescribed lesson in Beth Moore‘s book John The Beloved Disciple, well I changed my mind about that. Perhaps it will be good for tomorrow.
But for today, I am hoping Beth won’t mind me typing a couple of her pages to my screen to share with you as our IDOK lesson for today. I am thinking that it may be a bit longer than normal but I want you to have it all. By the time I got to the end of it my chin was on my chest. Are you ready?
Acts 12:2 is the last mention Luke makes of John as he refers to his brother’s death. I am very intrigued by the fact that Luke mentions John only a handful of times in the annals of the early church–and never quoted him. Our dear protagonist appears only as an aside to Peter. While the book of Acts traces almost every move of a converted persecutor named Saul, John’s ministry continues with very little notice after James’s death.
I wonder what the apostles thought about Paul gaining so much of the spotlight. I think we’d be pretty naive to think they didn’t notice. John may also have felt that Peter at least had an important future, even if it ultimately required his life. John, on the other hand, knew nothing about his own. All he may have known was that Peter’s ministry was skyrocketing, and no one would argue that Paul was a household name.
John? Christ simply asked him to take care of His mother. Goodness knows he loved her. He took her into his home just like he promised, but somehow in the midst of the responsibility, neither Scripture nor traditions give us any indication he ever had a family of his own. Of course, to have known Mary so well was to gain priceless insight into Christ. After all, who knew Him better? Surely she recounted stories as the evening oil in the lamp grew scarce. Scripture paints John as curious, so I can’t imagine that he failed to ask a thousand questions through the years. “What did Gabriel look like when he brought the news? Did you know instantly he was an angel? What was his voice like?” Or, “Did you almost lose hope that James and your other sons would ever believe?” If Mary was like most aging mothers, I imagine she told the stories all the more and perhaps even repetitively as her life hastened toward its end.
Many of the early church historians agree that John resided in Jerusalem until Mary died. I wonder what Mary’s home-going was like. If John and Christ’s half-brothers had any notion she was dying, they were no doubt by her side. A natural death must have been so different to the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Lord Jesus. They knew firsthand the reality of life beyond the grave. Can you imagine how anxious Mary was to see her first-born son?
I have little doubt that those nearby reassured her through her final hours with words of their imminent encounter. Like all of us, God counted her steps and kept her tears in a bottle. Both were full and it was time. As He narrowed that solitary life to an earthbound close, He could easily see beyond the weathered face lined by time.
I like to think Mary was surrounded by loved ones as she inhaled her last ounce of earthly air. I imagine her sons gathered around her. All of them. The one she adopted at the cross and the One she surrendered to the grave. I wonder if they knew their Brother was right there among them . . . more present in His invisibility than they could ever be. Mary bid farewell to mortality and was ushered to immortality on the arm of a handsome Prince. Her Son. Her God.
John’s job was done. What now? Perhaps he did what we sometimes do. When I am confounded by what I don’t know, I rehearse in my mind what I do know. He knew that the last thing Christ told the apostles was that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. I am of course offering supposition, but I wonder if he thought to himself, “I’ve served here in Jerusalem for years. I’ve preached to Samaritans, and I know Judea like the back of my hand. I’m no longer a young man. Who knows how much longer I have? I’m heading to the uttermost.”
Beloved, listen. Christ’s early followers were adventurers! They were pioneers! If they listened to us sit around and decide whether we had time to work in a Bible study with prison inmates around our nail appointments, they’d be mortified. In our postmodern era, church life is associated with buildings and programs. Church life to them was moving in the adrenaline and excitement of the Holy Ghost at the risk of life and limb. They were willing to do things we would reason couldn’t possibly be the will of God (i.e., risking our necks) for the sheer joy of what lay before them. They ran the race. They didn’t window shop.
I’m not meaning to be harsh, but I fear they might look at all of us and think virtually none of us looked like disciple material to them. But you know what I’d want to say to that first motley crew? “None of you looked like disciple material either when Christ dragged you from your safe little lives.” My point? We can still become disciple material! I desperately want to! I want to live the Great Adventure. Don’t you? Even if that Great Adventure leads me into virtual obscurity for a while.
We are built for adventure. And often, the only thing keeping us from embarking on one is that it’s come disguised as an average day. What kind of adventure with Christ might be awaiting you before sundown tomorrow if you were looking for it? Just imagine . . .
Matthew 28:(NKJV) 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
There you have it.
ABBA Father, I am amazed at the insight You have given Beth. As I read this today I was just dropped jawed. These things just never occurred to me. I am so glad you occurred them to her. Don’t get me wrong and I know You won’t, I am grateful for the things You have occurred to me too. I am grateful that You have an individual relationship and mission for every one of us. I am grateful that You did not make any two of us just alike or give any two of us the same mission. You are awesome like that. And I am glad. And then I read the part about the Apostles and that they would be mortified! What are You, ABBA, with the way we are? Gracious, for sure! Somehow I KNOW You are not about sending us on a guilt trip but You do desire for us to get on board with You for the Great Adventure, the individually planned Great Adventure You have for each of us, don’t You? And what did Beth say, that we could be having one with You before sundown tomorrow, or perhaps even today, huh? You know, LORD, I really don’t know what You could do with a lump of clay like me. I KNOW You have done some amazing work already and surely You have more amazing stuff You are waiting on me to agree with You to do, don’t you? I really am sorry I’m so slow at it. And yet I am grateful to be as far along as we are. Thank You. And You know if I were writing this in my journal and not for the internet world to read I’d likely report for duty quickly because that would be just between You and me and who’d know besides You and me if I failed AGAIN? I wonder how many others are like me in this way? So I pray for all us that we will stop being so afraid of failure, that we fail to even show up! I’m here, ABBA, and for sure I’ll show up in the morning too and You take it from there. Okay? Amen and amen in JESUS NAME. I love You, ABBA. I am looking so forward to seeing You, LORD, Face to face. No one, no thing — compares to You.
And now I commend all the things we usually pray about to You for Your will; our IDOK Troops, Your Church, Israel, America, just all of it, LORD. Thank You and make it so, as You will. And I pray You will take this long IDOK lesson today and bless our IDOKs so good they can’t hardly stand it. Praise You and Bless You, LORD. Amen.