We Don’t Know What to Say

They did not know what to say.

“Whoa,” I thought. “That’s me.”

I don’t feel like I know what to say, what to think, what to do as a follower of Christ, either.

Especially now.

Especially at this significant moment in our history when all sense of normalcy and understanding has been turned on their proverbial heads by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Me?

A missionary? I don’t know what to say at this time of seeking, of wondering, of reflecting?

It’s true.

Thus, it is no wonder why I took every bit of encouragement from something I read in the book of Mark:

Jesus had retreated to a quiet space in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Before he departed, Jesus requested that his disciples, “Watch and pray…,” for themselves, for Him, for what was yet to come. Yet, when Jesus returned on three separate occasions, He discovered John, Peter, and James fast asleep. Every time.

After the second stirring from sleep, Mark records the relational breakdown with the men’s admission:

“They did not know what to say to him.”

New International Version, Mark 14:39b

The disciples have taken a lot of heat over the years for their misguided thinking and limited understanding of the words and ways of Jesus. Throughout their three-years-of-walking-and-talking-listening-and-learning relationship with Jesus, this group was unable to grasp the life-changing lessons and opportunities Jesus gave them. They often misunderstood what Jesus was saying to them, what he was exhorting others, and what ultimately was ahead for them all. It would be easy to cast judgment on this simple-minded bunch who just didn’t have a clue at times. Yet, I confess, I am right there with them – trying to understand and apply what is being said and making sense of the times we are currently in right now. On this late night, Peter, James and John failed to stay awake to garner the spiritual strength they would need in the coming hours. They did not heed Jesus’s rebukes.

Jesus offered many encouragements and warnings, then. He offers us the same cautionary word today.

Here’s one:

Before the garden of Gethsemane scene, Jesus exhorted his listeners – including his disciples:

Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

New International Version, Luke 12: 29-32

In other words, the disciples were given a directive not to worry about the things of this world and how they would be provided for each day. Instead, the focus of their thoughts and the impetus of their living should center upon the kingdom of God. Jesus asked them to be Kingdom-centered people.

That’s it.

How do we do that, though? How can we be Kingdom-oriented people in this time and place?

We seek the Kingdom of God humbly, by making Jesus Lord and King of our lives.

In our work, in our play, in our plans, in our relationships, in our goals, in our concerns, and even in the hours before we sleep, we seek the will of God and ask Jesus to guide and even rule over every area of our lives.

Kingdom people are Jesus-centered, Jesus-loving people.

Yes, even before we sleep, we have opportunity to be Kingdom people.

The disciples were offered that invitation.

 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak, ” Jesus cautioned. New International Version, Mark 14:38

Jesus anticipated betrayal in the coming minutes. He envisioned the encroaching, dreadful terror of mankind’s past, present and future sin. In the deepest, darkest hour of night, Jesus foresaw tomorrow and the Kingdom consequences at hand.  A bitter, cruel hour was upon them all. Yet, the disciples understood nothing. Sleep overtook them not once, not twice, but three times. And when confronted, the group of three offered no reply, no apology, no repentant word.  

We don’t know what to say….

It would be too late now, to pray against the doubts, the distrust, and the denials that would envelop and overcome them.  Their Lord and their Savior, Jesus Christ, would soon be crucified. None would be prepared for the magnitude of this horrendous moment, nor the paralyzing fears that would follow in the next two and a half days.

Would they remember Jesus’s words of caution and assurance?

Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Don’t worry about your food, your work, your play, your family, or any of your necessities of life.

Seek the Kingdom of God.

You will be given what you need.

Do not be afraid.

My dear friends, your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

There is no fear of tomorrow.

The Kingdom of God is at hand.

We may not know what to say right now.

The disciples often didn’t in the years, months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes before the crucifixion and resurrection of their Lord.

We may have no words, either.

That’s okay.

Our Heavenly Father knows what we need.

Jesus can show us the way forward – through this upended, upside-down, nothing-makes-much-sense hour and day-after-day-after-day waiting season.

He did it for his disciples over two thousand years ago when they believed all hope was lost. Despairing and unsure,  and with few words to share between them, the disciples gathered together. Into that room of dread, Jesus appeared to affirm their Kingdom purpose:

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 

New International Version, John 20:19-21

The men and women in the room were filled with the power, love, and grace of the Holy Spirit and their words took hold.

Their Jesus Love became their Kingdom Purpose.

This same Jesus Love is offered to us all – even if our words are hard to come by right now. We’re still in the dark of night with this COVID-19 pandemic. We don’t know what is coming tomorrow.

What do we know?

Jesus has come.

Jesus is here.

Jesus directs us not to worry.

We have what we need in Him.

He greets us with His everlasting, assuring, enveloping peace. Peace. PEACE.

Receive the Holy Spirit.

Seek the Kingdom of God.

Let your Jesus Love become your Kingdom Purpose – in action, in thought, in word. And that will be enough for today, tomorrow, and every day; even on the days when we don’t know what to say.

Friends, are your words few these days? Do you not know what to say right now? Or even what to do with yourself in this in-between time? That’s okay if you do or even if you don’t. Look to Jesus. Ask Him for your thoughts, your words, and your actions. Ask Him to use your Jesus Love for the glory of His Kingdom.

With love always,

heather

Artwork: You Could Not Watch One Hour with Me

By James Tissot

1 thought on “We Don’t Know What to Say

  1. The Lord gave me a word, and I went to the calendar to write it down. I had not heard of Covid19. The word was…provision, I will give you provision. I thought, provision for what? The Covid 19 came, and I prayed what should I do, where should I go, will we be ok. He gave me a second word….storehouse, and reassured me that I was safe, and right where he wanted me for now. He provided $$ from a place I would have never expected, and I added to my provisions. I have been able to give food, help someone with a dangerous journey across country to bring her children home, buy a bed for someone who had no bed, and now today a request for shoes for someone who needs shoes. I have opened my house to someone else who needs a home, and I am still able to have all my needs met. This has been one of the most amazing times to know God had me before I ever cried out in need myself. That He enabled me to be the storehouse instead of the one in need. It is the greatest privilege that He chose…me. 🤗 It is amazing security that he knew this was going to happen, and I received ….a blessed Word.

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