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  • Eric Marshburn

Eric's Ethereal Cereal - July 2023

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” ~John 14:5 NIV

There are times in life when all of us lose our bearings. It’s like being out on the water in a thick fog or trying to walk in the woods in pitch darkness. Direction is a gift, particularly to those who may be “directionally challenged.” Do you know anyone like that? Sailors and other navigators have relied on a natural compass for ages. According to one source, “It is called Polaris, or the North Star. It is directly overhead the North Pole. This means that whenever we point towards the spot on the horizon directly below the North Star, we must be pointing north. The North Star moves in a very small circle above the north celestial pole, while all the other stars in the Northern Hemisphere rotate around it. Because Polaris appears stationary in the night sky, seafarers can easily find true north by locating the North Star.”

Our brother, Thomas, seemed to be lost in a fog after Jesus inserted his farewell speech into the Passover meal. The clouds of grief pulled a curtain over his faith-eyes, shrouding his North Star. Earlier in the evening, he and the other disciples remembered how God rescued their ancestors from slavery in Egypt. Of course, we recall how the story continues; how their ancestors wandered around in the wilderness for the next forty years. Someone has joked that if the Children of Israel had been a committee, they might still be wandering around, lost in the wilderness. Some of us may feel like we are wandering ourselves in this Post-Covid-Disaffiliation wilderness and fog.

But we should take heart. Jesus doesn’t scold Thomas for admitting his lack of faith. He simply reminds him, and us, that “The Way” is not a point on a map, but a person who promises to be with us, always – Jesus, the Christ. As Eugene Peterson notes: “The WAY that is Jesus is not only the roads that Jesus walked in Galilee and to Jerusalem but also the WAY Jesus walked on those roads, the way he acted, felt, talked, gestured, prayed, healed, taught, and died. And the way of his resurrection. The WAY that is Jesus cannot be reduced to information or instruction. The WAY is a person whom we believe and follow as God-with-us… To follow Jesus means we can’t separate what Jesus is saying from what Jesus is doing, and the way he is doing it. To follow Jesus is as much, or maybe even more, about feet as it is ears and eyes.”

In the closing verse of chapter 12 in his letter to the Church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul notes, “And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” What follows in Chapter 13 becomes chart and compass for the followers of Jesus—then and now.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first, “Doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears, and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-13 MSG

Thus, Jesus is The North Star of God’s love.

Blessings & Peace!

Pastor Eric

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