Knee Jerk Devotional: May 5, 2021

Luke 8:16-25

Passage:

"No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We're not keeping secrets; we're telling them. We're not hiding things; we're bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don't become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes."

His mother and brothers showed up but couldn't get through to him because of the crowd. He was given the message, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside wanting to see you."

He replied, "My mother and brothers are the ones who hear and do God's Word. Obedience is thicker than blood."

One day he and his disciples got in a boat. "Let's cross the lake," he said. And off they went. It was smooth sailing, and he fell asleep. A terrific storm came up suddenly on the lake. Water poured in, and they were about to capsize. They woke Jesus: "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"

Getting to his feet, he told the wind, "Silence!" and the waves, "Quiet down!" They did it. The lake became smooth as glass.

Then he said to his disciples, "Why can't you trust me?"

They were in absolute awe, staggered and stammering, "Who is this, anyway? He calls out to the winds and sea, and they do what he tells them!"

There are days when I struggle to respond to these passages. Not because I don’t have something to say, but because there’s so much. The challenge in these moments is to move beyond the academic stuff that I love and really try to listen to the Spirit as I read the text. I’m way more comfortable dealing with the text as an academic work. Studying, researching, and figuring out the puzzle of the ancient text is fun for me. Reading the text devotionally and being a learner in my own life, that’s where it gets hard.

Part of the discipline of this daily writing and responding to the Scripture for me is to set aside the academic to listen and hear the message of the text in my own life. I need to be changed and transformed. This daily discipline forces me to consider my life and try to move from the intellectual to the heart.

This morning, Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Why can’t you trust me?” hit a nerve. Trusting others is hard. Trusting someone you can’t see or touch, is even harder.

I think that over the years I have found all kinds of ways to avoid trusting Jesus. Often this has meant placing my trust in institutions. But, you know what? They inevitably fail me. Over and over again the institutions that I have sought out to trust in fail to live up to their promises. Beyond that, they fail to have any sense of integrity.

I’ve trusted in people too. It turns out that all of us fall short of being the kind of person that Jesus was. So, even the best of us fail one another. I don’t think we do so with any ill intent, we just have bad days. Those bad days or even bad moments can have lasting impact on those around us. I know I have had those days and moments, too. I have failed others in my life.

Trusting Jesus is just so hard. Actually, just trusting is hard. Trust is defined this way: Firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing; confidence or reliance. Over time that “firm belief” erodes because of the simple reality that none of us are perfect.

It strikes me this morning that perhaps the greatest act of grace towards another is to trust them. To trust another is to put flesh on our words.

The disciples had used words about believing in Jesus. But, it was in the storm where their trust was tested. What makes Jesus so different from me (and probably you) is that even in the midst of their lack of trust he still acted on their behalf. If I’m honest, when someone doesn’t trust me I tend to write them off. It turns out that when I don’t trust others they do the same.

I want to keep learning to trust Jesus. This means that I have to learn to trust the other people in my life too. I think as I learn to trust those closest to me, I will at the same time be getting better at trusting Jesus. I wonder if this is at the heart of the New Testament teaching on “mutual submission”?