March 19, 2018
In Chapter 11 of the Gospel according to Luke, just after Jesus’ teachings on how to pray and how to drive out demons, we come to verses 27-28: “While Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’” Many of us hear the word of God, but are we listening? This text has become my 2018 Lenten scripture.
One of my best girlfriends introduced me recently to the thinking of a psychologist by the name of Wayne W. Dyer. Dyer suggests that as we age, we must make a quantum shift in our lives from ambition to meaning. He essentially describes a shift from a focus on our ego to a focus on our spirit. Dyer further explains this shift as a necessary shift back to the womb where there is a full surrender of ourselves—a full surrender independent of the good opinion of others and a detachment from outcomes.* Dyer’s mid-life shift is reflective of the shift that we too must make as we mature in our Christian journey. He calls it a shift towards fulfilling our true destiny. I call it a shift towards living into our calling, our purpose, into a true life of faith.
It is important that we not become complacent in our actions trying to “fulfill” or “live into” our life’s purposes. Though we may understand that faith without works is dead (James 2:17), we must first live into a true life of faith. What is a true life of faith, you ask? Faith requires that we obey God by making a full surrender. To obey and to surrender are synonymous, meaning to cease resistance and submit or yield to an authority. Sometimes it can feel like a very vulnerable leap of faith.
I remember learning to swim as a child. Lessons were going along just fine…in the shallow end of the pool. On the last day, every child was required to jump into the deep end and trust that they had acquired the skills to come back up the make it to safety. I was as afraid as I had ever been, hesitating and holding on to the railing too long, the swim instructor snuck behind me, picked me up and threw me into the deep end. Indeed, God’s grace and some of what I had learned that summer kicked in, and I made it safely out of the water.
A true life of faith requires a leap into the deep end, without having to be thrown in like I had to be. I believe this is what Jesus means when he implores us to hear the word of God and obey it. You’ve come to know Christ, accepted him as your Savior, been baptized, communed with the saints, but you’re still holding on to the railing. Listen to what Jesus is saying. We must let go of the railing, surrender and know that God can and will catch us and lead us where we need to go!
We know from his prayer on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:42) that the humanity in Jesus would have preferred, like many of us, to hold on to the railing. As the time of his call became imminent, Jesus prayed “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus knew, unlike us, what his “cup” (this part of his calling) entailed. He had to endure a tortuous journey, up to and including death on a cross. Now we all know that’s not how the story ends! But it is the very journey that we seek to remember during this Lenten season, in preparation for Resurrection Sunday.
Just as Jesus obeyed his father, Jesus is calling on us to hear the word of God [listen] and obey it. What is God calling YOU to do?? Are you listening? Saints, we must LET GO OF THE RAILING!!!
Rev. Ineda P. Adesanya