Trust and Obey by Rev. Richard Hasselbach, Ph.D.
Charles Colson was born into an affluent Boston family and had a privileged childhood. His loving parents gave him the best education money could buy. After earning a degree from Brown and serving a stint in the Marines, Chuck worked as an aide to US Senator Leveret Saltonstall while he earning a law degree from American University.
With law degree in hand Colson began a stellar career. Still in his 20s, he launched a successful law firm which he left only to become White House Counsel. While still a young man he had achieved wealth and power, he thought he had it all. Then, suddenly, it was gone.
Implicated in the Watergate scandal, Colson was indicted by a grand jury, plead guilty to obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. All Colson’s certainties were shattered; his plans were in shambles; and he was disgraced. Along with Dante he could say:
“Midway along the journey of our life, I woke to find myself in a dark wood, for I had wandered off from the straight path.”
Many of us also wake up to find ourselves in that dark wood; lost and alone carrying the burden of our failures, mistakes, and sin. Ironically, these moments of loss and uncertainty are often the occasions for God’s love to touch and transform us.
We see this happening at the wedding feast in Cana. (John 2: 1-11). As John starts telling the story a disaster has happened: although the wedding wasn’t nearly over the wine had run out. This would be a problem at a wedding today, but in the honor/shame society of the ancient Near East such a faux pas would bring disgrace on a family for years to come.
Jesus’ mother brought the problem to his attention. She told him: “They have run out of wine.” It was an implicit request to help the bride and groom, and Jesus heard it as such. He answered with uncharacteristic harshness: “Woman” he rebukes her, “what is that to you and to me?” In effect he says “it’s not my business.”
Jesushas a more important mission, that is his business. He is the Son of God dwelling among us “full of grace and truth.” He has come to do the saving will of the Father in perfect obedience. His “business” is infinitely beyond what his mother could possibly comprehend; he wants her to know that. Yet the wedding is also a human moment which is not too small for a great God’s concern.
Mary says nothing more to Jesus but instructs the servants to “do whatever he tells you.”
Jesus has them fill six large stone jars with water; they fill them to the brim. He then tells them to draw some out and bring it to the steward; they do. Not knowing what happened the steward tastes the water turned to wine and is amazed by! “Why is the best being served last?” he asks the bridegroom.
Where there was a lack there now is an abundance. Where there was shame there is now grace. Jesus has not only saved a family from disgrace, he has also given all with eyes to see a foretaste of the heavenly banquet - the transforming love of God.
Jesus’ mother is a pattern of faithful prayer. She doesn’t suggest a solution, such as: “Son, why don’t you whip up a batch of Chateau Margaux 1787.” She simply brings Jesus a need: “They’re out of wine” trusting that whatever Jesus does it will be what is best. With absolute faith she directs the servants to be obedient to his word.
Whenever we feel lost, for whatever reason, we need to take the problem to Jesus trusting that HE will know what to do. We don’t understand the mind of God any better than Mary did, we don’t need to suggest a plan of action to the Almighty, we just need to let God be God. We need to turn to the lord with trust and then do whatever Jesus says!
We can only do what Jesus says if we listen to him: listen to the word as it comes to us through the inspired words of the Bible. Listen to the Spirit of the Lord speaking to us in times of prayer and mediation; listen in the synchronicity of our lives: in those seemingly coincidental events that have such powerful meaning that we can’t possibly think of them as being “mere” coincidences.
When confidently take our needs to Jesus and are obedience to him, God’s glory will appear in the most unlikely of places: in seemingly insignificant encounters, in situations that we don’t understand, and even in what the world would think of as our defeat and disgrace - when all seems lost.
When Chuck Colson’s life was falling apart, a friend gave him C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity; reading it began his journey of faith. In prison Colson found countless opportunities to share his faith with others. Once he was released he continued his work to bring incarcerated men, women and their families the good news of Jesus by founding the Prison Fellowship; through it hundreds of thousands have come to Christ. Who would have thought such light could come from such darkness?
In his book Loving God Colson explains:
The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure–– that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation––being sent to prison––was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; He chose the one experience in which I could not glory for His glory.