As I sought the Lord about the word He had for me today from Monday of Holy Week, I noticed many interesting things about these passages. I noticed that there was a lesson from the withering of the fig tree. I observed the obvious missional message of the coming of the Greeks signaling Jesus' "hour has come". I saw the sad truth that many fail to confess Him because they "loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God." But none of these, I sensed, were His word to me.
Here's a secret about teaching and writing: There is a constant temptation to read Scripture for lesson preparation and God's Word to "them" - whoever the audience might be at a given moment. This morning, as I dialogued with God about Monday of Holy Week, I was reminded of a basic lesson that the Teacher taught this teacher: If I'm not digging into His Word devotionally and studiously for myself, just for what He wants to teach me, then I have nothing to say to you or anyone else. One of the earliest prayers He taught me to pray over my teaching was "Lord, make the lessons that I teach manifest in my life." He has never failed to do that. I'm convinced one reason Scripture tells us that teachers incur a stricter judgment is just this very principle. Nothing will shut my mouth faster than realizing I'm about to say something that I only know academically. Because God is far too faithful to His body to let me get by with that one. So please, pray for your teachers and pastors and church leaders. You can rest assured that God won't let them get by with an abstract understanding of truth.
So - back to today's lesson. As I processed all of the above yet again, I told God to show me what the lesson was for me. What I needed to be reminded of in these familiar words. Two verses jumped out at me:
John 12:26: "If anyone serves me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if any one serves Me, the Father will honor him."When I read these I immediately thought of Henry Blackaby's Experiencing God Bible study. One of his key teachings is that God is always at work and invites us to join Him in His work. That's key because it's His work, not ours; we don't invite Him to join us, He invites us to join Him. I should look for where He is at work and join Him. The first passage reminds me to follow Him - where He is, His servant should desire to be. The second passage tells me that He models what He expects of me; He spoke not on His own initiative but the Father's.
John 12:49 "For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak."
All of this reminds me of the childhood game "Follow the Leader." I am in a season of rest following an intense focus on getting a master's degree. I don't know what God has next for me, but this is yet another remind that He wants me to let HIM be the leader. I have to trust Him.
Here's the beautiful thing about this level of submission: Colossians 3:3 tells me, "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." Yes, I am not "the leader". But in that death to self, I am in the most secure place possible. As Corrie Ten Boom described it, Christ cups me in His hand and God cups Christ in His ... so I am doubly-covered.
It's a lesson that I can never learn enough!