Two things strike me when I read about the miracle of water into wine. The physical transformation stands out, for sure, but it’s the nature of the circumstances sparking the miracle that catches my attention. The event says something specific about Jesus as a person.
“What does Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ have to do with anything? Will I ever use this? Does this literature stuff matter at all?” My questions regularly flummoxed my high school English teachers. Convinced my classmates had the same questions, I voiced them regularly.
Have you ever wanted heaven having grown sick of sin in this world? It may have simply inhabited the air around you, or you may have tripped over it too many times, but either way, it gave you a semi-nauseating feeling in your stomach. You see it around you, in advertising, in movies and on television, at almost any social event, and you think, “There’s got to be more than this. This is just disgusting and heartbreaking.” You start to hate this non-life offered as a poor substitute for real life in this convoluted world.
In his own image he made them. In the image of God he made them. In his image he made us, you and me.
Killing time in an airport, I struck up a conversation with a stranger. When asked what I “do”, I told this man that I write about Jesus’ teachings. The man, hearing the name “Jesus” but not hearing any tip-off code words, fired off the test questions: “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God? That he shed his blood for our sins? That he died and rose again? That we will be with him forever if we repent and are baptized?” I forgot a few in the litany because his machine-gun delivery leveled me.
One man loves well but he cannot manage money. She manages money but struggles to care for her husband. He cares for his family and serves in his community but is addicted to work. She loves the Lord but drinks herself to sleep at night. She swears and smokes and has a short temper, but has a soft and generous heart. He’s defensive and fearful but passionate about justice and mercy. He gives to the poor, cares for orphans and widows, but struggles with pornography.
Is he enough for this world? Can he heal divisions in my church? In my country? In my government? On my team? In my office? In my household?
Is Jesus enough for me? Is he enough to bring me back? Or do I need the right church, the right books, the right job or the right pastor? Do I need the proper friends? Do I need to dress a certain way and attend certain conventions, while eschewing certain words?
Throughout Dixie, I’m a Tennessean. Folks in Georgia and Alabama know what that means. Outside the South, I’m a Southerner. That means something to Yankees. Around the world, I’m American. That means something to everyone I meet off native soil.
Why do so many colleges exist? Does our nation truly contain such an extensive number of eager learners who wish to dedicate four years of their lives to study?
Sometimes when I drive across the Naval Academy Bridge, I have to will myself to steer my eyes toward the taillights in front of me. The glistening water to my right and the drifting sailboats headed east in slow freedom plead for my attention.
Our natural inclination expects perfection. We crave it, not because we’ve ever known something perfect, but because we think we should. My car breaks and frustration ensues. My sister hurts me or fails to follow through on a promise. I’m disillusioned and jaded. Plans fall apart, and dreams sometimes vanish in the face of reality. I stand discontent with myself and constantly self-berate. I’m not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, confident enough, witty enough, worthy enough …
Returning from vacation, I drive down the same roads, knowing each sharp turn and pothole. I know just when to press the gas and the perfect braking pattern to round the last turn. I pull into the garage and unload. Opening the door to the house, it creaks in the same way. A familiar smell arouses my senses.
In heaven, I think George Steinbrenner won’t be able to buy all the players he wants. I think celebrities won’t be as weird as they are here, and politicians won’t be as insecure.
As a kid, I loved the book, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.” I loved its vertically rectangular cover that opened to reveal an enticing world of possibility. I loved the sketch drawings that evoked vivid wonder.
The Bible begins with creation. God creates something from nothing and transforms void into vastness. Light differentiates from darkness. Land separates from the sea. Trees, plants and animals are given life and placed in the newness newly created.