“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die.” John 6:47-50
Our hearts sank when the doctor called us to go down to the hospital as a loved one was critically ill. The doctor shared her concern that our family member had a high risk of having a cardiac arrest. By the grace of God, his condition stabilized later that night . The encounter with the power of darkness drew my attention to the victory over death that Christ has secured for us.
Our small group had been reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles. We read the story of the young man, Eutychus, who was listening to the apostle Paul talking till past midnight. The room was lighted with many flickering lamps and Eutychus was sitting on the windowsill. He became drowsy and fell down three stories to his death. But Paul simply went down, took him in his arms and said, “Don’t worry, he’s alive.” Then they went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper and Paul continued preaching till dawn!1 It was an eye opener that the disciples were not distracted by the miracle of Paul raising Eutychus from the dead – they simply continued with the Lord’s Supper and the preaching of God’s Word. Miracles were their everyday experiences and their focus was not on the miracles but on the presence and love of God.
The story of Eutychus is a graphic reminder of the weakness of our flesh – we may fall asleep during sermons and pastors need not be offended by those who do so! God knows that our spirits are willing but our flesh is weak.2 It was an encouragement to me as I fall asleep at times during my silent meditation. I can now take comfort by choosing to see such times as the times that Christ is picking me up and restoring my soul.
The practice of meditation is more than resting in God. There may be times when we are lead into the darkness of our souls and even the absence of God. This is to humble us as we face the reality that without Christ, we are the living dead – living under the power of darkness. It is only with the spirit of humility that we can truly understand and be grateful for the good news of Advent – that God is waiting and seeking to deliver us from darkness so that we can live in the light.
Advent is a time to share the good news of God’s amazing grace that through faith in Christ we are reborn again – not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.3 The only work God wants from us is to believe in Jesus Christ.4 Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have the keys to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus came to be the Light of the World5 to show us the way out of the dark world of suffering and to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Beatitudes are the keys to the kingdom of God. We need to come to terms with our spiritual poverty for it is the poor in spirit who will mourn and seek the comfort of God. When we do so, our humility fills us with meekness so that we can inherit the kingdom of God. Then we will hunger and thirst for righteousness.6 Before going to the cross, Jesus gave us the Lord’s Supper as God’s means of grace. Jesus told the Jews that they need to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life:
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”7
Like the deer longing for streams of water, we thirst for the living God.8 We hear Christ, the well of our salvation, calling us to quench our spiritual thirst:
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, “Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”9
Journeying with a loved one in the intensive care unit provided me with a better understanding of the narrow way. The door to eternal life is narrow because it is an intimate and personal relationship between me and Christ. The narrow way is not about giving up our pleasures but surrendering our will that God’s will may be done in our lives. The way of the cross is a movement from death to life.
Without Christ we are spiritually dead and on the journey from life to death – living the “dash” between our birth and death. Jesus Christ is God’s gift to lead us from spiritual death to live the eternal life before death. Advent is a time of waiting and preparing our hearts so that God’s Word can be made “flesh” in our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Waiting on God through meditation is to enter into the rest of God – to remember that there is nothing that we can do to earn God’s grace. It is the expression of our trust in God’s unconditional love that is revealed on the cross of Christ. Christian meditation is a journey into our hearts to see ourselves as God sees us and not who we pretend to be. We can take off our masks when we know that God loves us just as we are. As we do so, the Holy Spirit will lead us to become the person God wants us to be.
May this Advent prepare us for the journey to eternal life. As we face the storms of the Covid pandemic and other illnesses in our lives, let us learn to be still as we wait on God:
Find rest my soul
In Christ alone
Know His power
In quietness and trust
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still know You are God
- Acts of Apostles 20:7-12 NLT
- Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38
- John 1:12-13
- John 6:29
- John 8:12
- Matthew 5:3-6
- John 6:55-58
- Psalm 42:1-2
- John 7:37-38