How many times have you approached a portion of Scripture with an expectation of what God is going to say to you through it? I grew up attending church and have spent a good portion of my adult life studying the Bible so many of the stories are familiar, but I really should know better than to anticipate what God is going to reveal to me through his Word. Even as I acknowledge that there is always something new to experience, I am still too often surprised! Some people never learn! On seeing the reading for today – John 3:16! – I fell even deeper into the trap of ‘Oh, I know this!’ I found myself skating over the text, seeing the same old words.
Then, there was something new. A phrase that hit me in a way it hadn’t before. ‘I tell you the truth’. As I was reading the familiar story of Nicodemus, I was struck by how each time Jesus responded with that phrase. Three times he used this phrase to cement just how important his words were. In this case, Jesus was saying things that would have rocked the world of a Pharisee – even a Pharisee that had seen the miracles he had performed and acknowledged that Jesus must have the presence of God with him. Jesus is speaking as one who knows God intimately and speaks with authority, wholly trustworthy. Don’t be tempted to only give him half your attention. He’s saying, ‘Don’t miss this –it’s important!’
Convicted of my own tendency to not give God my full attention, this Lenten season I will be listening for those words of Truth that may be familiar, but I need to hear with fresh perspective. Rather than drift through this season thinking I already know what to expect, I need to be open to hearing the words of truth that Christ is speaking into my life. Lent is a time to refocus, to pay attention, to enter more deeply into the life of Christ in anticipation of his resurrection. It is also a time for God to surprise us with new insights, direction, and inspiration. I want to make sure I catch what he says!
Father, open our ears. Open our minds and hearts to you. We want to hear from you – remove the familiarity and allow us to hear you in new and fresh ways. As we journey to the cross with you, may we be attentive to how you are transforming us to be more like you. We are listening – we don’t want to miss what’s next!
Hope Community Covenant Church