Have you ever heard or read something that just stopped you in your tracks? I’m not talking about the times you’ve seen or heard something so outlandish and crazy that you’re just left in a state of confusion. I’m talking about those times you saw or heard something so amazing or insightful that you had no choice but to sit and ponder it.
I hope your answer is yes, because those moments are really cool!
It’s happened to me several times. I love to read, and this spring/summer I’ve indulged in a mix of spiritual growth books and beach reads. Believe it or not, a quote that absolutely stopped me in my tracks came from a recent beach read – Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. The quote that got me: “Every baby is born beautiful. It’s what we project on them that makes them ugly.” I can’t fully articulate why this strikes me so deeply, but it does. It really makes me think about how I look at others and what I “see” that’s different from what Jesus sees. What “ugly” do I project on people and situations, both intentionally and unintentionally?
Simple ideas can stop me in my tracks too! For example, I love a good life hack! Has anyone tried cooking sweet corn in a cooler? I find this technique intriguing. Who knew you could cook a pile of corn using boiled water and a cooler?? Let me know if it actually works. Or maybe once things settle down, I’ll have a party and we can try it out together! And don’t get me started on microwaving corn in its husk – and how easy it slides out silk-free. Genius.
Most recently, it happened with regard to verses shared in a sermon and then a thought shared in a podcast I heard that same week.
Let’s start with the verses.
I find verse 66 to be so incredibly sad. Jesus had just fed well over 5000 people. He had calmed the storm. He revealed that He was the Bread of Life. Yet… it wasn’t enough for people. They saw Him. Heard Him. Experienced His miracles. They still walked away.
Jesus then asks in verse 67 if anyone else wants to go away.
He asked them a question. He didn’t run after them. He didn’t quickly do another miracle to prove a point. He left the choice up to them. Are they going to stay and follow Him or are they going to walk away?
I wonder what my reaction would have been? Enamored, but not enough to go all in? Or, so full of belief that there wasn’t even a question in the first place?
Everything in my bones wants to think that I would have said, “JESUS, I WILL STAY AND FOLLOW YOU!!” No matter what the circumstances or how few did the same. I want to believe that my response would have been Peter’s response in verse 68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
But, I have to be honest.
It’s easy to follow Him when His agenda lines up with mine. Will I still follow when He calls me down a less familiar path? Will I follow the crowd?
This is why I was stopped in my tracks. I know what I want the answer to be, but when push comes to shove, is it the answer that it should be?
And then wouldn’t you know it as I’m reflecting on these verses, I hear a podcast that challenges me with an application.
The speaker said that someday we’ll look back on 2020 and see it as a turning point year. He pointed out that during this time of crisis, we have the opportunity to help each other in the pandemic and stand together against injustice.
It’s time for me to do an honest assessment.
Am I doing something to actually help make 2020 a turning point year? Am I helping my neighbors? Am I embracing diversity? Am I standing up to injustice? Am I a voice for those who don’t have one?
Am I one who chooses to leave because it’s just too difficult? Because it’s not comfortable? Will I choose to stay silent and inactive because maybe I don’t know what to do?
So, what’s the lesson I’ve learned through these verses and that podcast? Well, referencing the Picoult quote again, I think it’s time for me to give this baby (2020) a second look. Everywhere I look I see flawed and broken systems, and I don’t like the solutions I’m hearing. I see things I can’t get my arms or brain wrapped around. I need to look beyond the flawed and broken and be the person who steps in to make a positive difference – not one who makes the flaws and broken pieces even more pronounced.
I honestly don’t know my strategy for this, but I do know that it starts with living out my answer to Jesus’s question. It means living and loving like Him – not just in my mind but with my words and actions. It means not shying away when it’s tough but pressing into Him more, seeking His wisdom and guidance. It means standing against the things that attempt to divide and break down. And it means looking at the world with the same set of loving lenses that He uses to see us.
Looking back, I want to be one of the reasons 2020 is seen as a turning point year. Will you be a reason too?
Do you need to do an honest assessment?