John stood in the Jordan River where people had gathered. Some of them began to form a line leading away from the bank. One by one they took their turn stepping into the water toward John. He spoke to them and they responded. He then dipped them under the water and pulled them back up. A man appeared from the horizon walking toward the group and joined the line.
This unassuming man that stood among ordinary people as one of them was the expression of God Himself in human form. He didn’t just come to us; He came near to us. He lived with us, doing the everyday monotonous tasks with us. He got dirty and hungry and tired. His plans got changed, He was interrupted, He was misunderstood. He knew disappointment, frustration, grief, loneliness and betrayal. And all the while, He saw how we try to hide our fear and shame, and how they rule our lives.
The Good New is that Jesus offers to bring His Divine nature into our messy, crazy humanity. I can’t articulate how it all works. I just know it does. When Nicodemus was trying to understand how God’s Spirit works in the heart of a person, Jesus used the wind as an example. We can’t see it, but we see the effects of it. I’m reminded of Christina Rossetti’s poem:
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I,
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
I’m often helped to understand difficult things by using familiar experiences, stories I’ve heard, information I’ve learned, and sometimes even movies I’ve seen. A scene from The Wizard of Oz helps me understand the paradox that God is great in might, powerful in authority, awesome in majesty; and He is gentle in compassion and kind in His dealings with His children. He is always both.
One of the classic scenes is when Dorothy comes to the great and powerful wizard of Oz, knowing that he is her only hope, but she’s not sure he will help. She has done everything she was told to gain his favor. She approaches with trepidation. Then Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal the kind, approachable professor who is the great and powerful wizard of Oz. I don’t mean to be sacrilegious or blasphemous, but I think of Jesus as the kind, approachable man behind the curtain of the great and powerful God that we should fear.
My life gets hard and messy and broken and scary. My need is beyond what anyone can do to help. So, I close my eyes and see an unassuming man standing next to me. He smiles and speaks familiar words of love and comfort. “I’m with you and I want to help you. Nothing is too hard for Me to do, too messy for Me to clean, too broken for Me to fix, or too scary for Me to keep you safe.” I believe Him and my soul finds peace. Belief and trust are hard to articulate, but we know it when we see it in others, and when we do it ourselves. May you experience it for yourself.