Saturday, June 28, 2014
To show our faith in others by taking action
I love Mary's seemingly cheeky behaviour at the wedding in Cana.
When she first pulled her son aside to whisper, 'They've run out of wine,' he said, in effect, 'What has that got to do with me, Mother? My time hasn't come, so don't pressure me to act.'
Her instant response was to summon the wedding stewards to instruct them, 'Do exactly what he tells you.' Hey, what? Does it seem like she totally ignored what he just said? Didn't she do exactly what he said he didn't want, and put him on the spot? Would you have dared to behave in that manipulative manner to Jesus? Instead of telling her off and putting her in her place, see what he did next.
I can imagine Jesus rolling his eyes with a bit of a grin, and telling those servants, 'All right, fill those stone jars up with fresh water. Don't ask me why. Just do it, and you'll see.'
My first thought was, Well, she was his mother. Maybe she could get away with it. I thought of the way I have to behave to my kids sometimes. Sometimes coercion doesn't work. Taking action and saying, 'Logan, I've already booked you into the barber and they're expecting you, so get out of bed,' is more effective than reasoning and pleading.
But there's even more to it than that. I'm thinking of other stories I've heard which show a bit of a principle here. When we expect good things from the significant people in our lives and act accordingly, they are more likely to step up in response.
I've never forgotten the story of a little girl who pleaded with her busy dad to make her a dollshouse. To get her off his back, he said, 'Alright, now off you go.' Once alone in his office, he intended to spend the rest of the day hard at work, but he heard happy humming. From the corner of his eye, he saw his daughter putting her furniture and dolls' clothes into little piles. Then he heard her tell a friend over the phone, 'You'll have to come over and play, because my daddy is building me a dollshouse. He promised.' So that busy man was touched enough to go out to his shed, find his tools and wood, and honour her faith in his good intentions.
There's another true story I read about a teacher who was assigned a group of a dozen students for his gifted and talented programme. At the end of the semester, when they exceeded his expectations with Straight A averages, he was told the truth. He and the students had all been subjects of an experiment. Those twelve had been chosen randomly from a classroom of strugglers. He had simply believed the claims about their giftedness, and they had risen to meet his expectations.
These are quite powerful stories and an incentive to focus on the wealth of good we know is deep within our loved ones (or want to believe is there). Most of us may find we don't have too far to dig. But getting back to the example of Mary and Jesus, I find it interesting that this changing of water to top quality wine was his first recorded public miracle. At that stage, it would seem his mother didn't really have much to base her great faith on. She didn't have the rest of the New Testament, full of its teachings and miracles, to go on, because at that stage, he hadn't spoken or performed them. However, what she did have was a wealth of stored-up anecdotes we'll never know, which she'd treasured in her heart from the time he was born. She also had the remarkable behaviour he'd obviously shown all through his childhood and teens.
Also concerning Jesus, this episode was more than a mother's prerogative. We have been told from his own lips that we may all enjoy the same relationship to him as his mother and brothers enjoyed. We are adopted brothers and sisters in his family. We are definitely invited to search his words and his recorded history for his promises and invitations to us. Then we are to believe that he will keep them when we come to him, expecting him to. It's all based on our belief that he means what he says and our trust in his faithfulness. What a load off our minds.