Pentecost +3b – Sunday 17th June 2012
Mark 4: 26-34
Have you ever been trapped with a person who just never shuts up? Sunday morning after church, when you’ve got 101 people to see and so many things to do, and you’re cornered by someone who wants to tell you what the doctor thought of their bunions.
People who talk and talk and talk, and never really tell you anything. Or worse still, by the time they get round to telling you the important stuff you’ve switched off.
I always feel guilty. Convicted. Like I should show more interest. But talk about falling asleep with your eyes open. I’m always mightily impressed by those people who have the gift to relate to these individuals, who must have the patience of a thousand people.
How many times have I felt like shouting “God give me strength…”?
Eugene Peterson entitles this portion of Mark’s gospel as “Never without a story”. And what a good phrase that is.
With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.
…fitting the stories to their experience and maturity… That speaks to me. Because no matter how hard I find a particular passage of Scripture I always find God speaking to me. It may take some wrestling, some untangling, a bit of pondering, a cup of coffee or two, a smidge of prayer, a root through my library or search on the internet, a Tweet, a walk in the park, a question for a friend, or even a good night’s sleep, but God gets through to me.
And key to that whole process is the word ‘fitting’. God has the most deadly knack to give you a real word in season. When you’re down he lifts you up. When you’re feeling invincible he brings you back to reality. When you’re puzzled he brings life into focus. When you’re confused he points you in the right direction. When you’re exhausted he provides sustenance. And he does all that through the most amazing means … the wonderful people that I’m surrounded by, a song on the radio, a picture in a newspaper, a child’s prayer in worship, the hug of a loved one. He talks. He speaks. He communicates.
And what’s even more amazing, God uses me to touch other people’s lives. Even though I don’t realise it, even though I’m just bumbling my way through life, I will bring God’s word of peace, joy, hope and love because I am a child of his. I need to be connected, I need to be in a right relationship with God, I need to talk with him, to listen to him. But God’s story is told to me, and God’s story is told through my life. Amazing.
So just remember, if someone starts to tell you all about their bunions today you could be doing the kingdom work and living the kingdom life. Great stuff.