Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 28 April 2015

Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. Mark 6, verses 51-52

Tough love time: do you harden your heart when you are amazed?

As I mentioned yesterday, my wife and I drove across the US this month; it’s why I didn’t write in this blog for about 10 days. I don’t know where you live, but I’m guessing there are things about it that you really like and some that also leave you lukewarm.   Me, I love East Texas though every time I travel somewhere else I see places that make me think “I’d like to live here.” I loved DC; lived near there for three years and love the Maryland Bay area.   The Smoky Mountains are beautiful; in fact, most of Tennessee is gorgeous and I’d love to spend a lot more time there.   I adore south-central Pennsylvania, and southern Indiana, the Wisconsin Dells, the Twin Cities, and pretty much all of Missouri from Kansas City south. And these are just the places we saw on this trip.   From other trips I could name many more.

Can you say I’m easily amazed? It’s just geography on a fallen rock. After you’ve seen so many different places, it all becomes overwhelming. By the end of each long day’s drive, both my wife and I were spent, just ready to find a warm bed in which to collapse. We had stopped paying attention to the beauty – and to miracle of Jesus keeping us safe throughout an improbable, quick trek across some very long distances – and the amazing became boring. Call me Peter, or maybe James, John, or Matthew. Throw me in that boat with the Disciples and I wouldn’t have understood about the loaves either. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I truly understand much of anything.

Ditto the disciples. They had been with Jesus and had watched – had participated – in how He fed 5000 men with five loaves and two fish.   They had ministered in His name to hundreds of people all over Galilee. You would think that, after all this, these twelve men would have understood that Jesus wasn’t just some priest or prophet. But the verse said “their hearts were hardened.”   Do you think they did that, or that it just happened to them? I think that, because their hearts were hardened, they were more easily amazed, and because they were amazed they were more easily hardened in the heart.   That would explain the seeming mood swings the Apostles seem to have, swinging from abject terror to spiritual fulfillment in the space of a few words.  In a way, it’s a gift from God that He gives us the ability to ‘shut down’ when we’re overwhelmed, but it can be a difficult thing to reconcile. In the Disciples’ case, they let their dull ignorance overcome them and give way to fear.   By the time Jesus climbed into the boat, they were terrified.

So maybe a little gut-check is in order for me now that I’m back home safe. Do I get dull and hardened when I’m overwhelmed or scared?   You bet I do.   That’s the time to stop in place, cry out to Jesus for a hand, and let Him right my ship.   No matter where I find myself, the best place is at His side.

Jesus, I need You to forgive my hard heart, my dull ignorance, and my arrogant self-reliance.   In Your name I ask this.

Read Mark 6, verses 45-56.