A teacher once gathered his students around him as he poured milk into a bottle and screwed the lid on loosely. He began to shake it violently. Mayhem ensued, as students dove for cover from the milk-storm. He gathered his class around him again, and asked, “Why did milk go flying everywhere?”
“Because you shook the bottle!” cried one student, wiping her face.
“Nope,” the teacher replied.
Another student said, “You didn’t screw the cap on all the way.”
The class was stumped.
The teacher explained, “It’s because the bottle was filled with milk!”
The point is this: Whatever we’re filled with, whatever’s at the center, will eventually be revealed. Jesus said, for example, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
Crises have a way of showing what’s at the center. This is true personally, in a family, in a society, and in a church.
That’s part of why, when he was asked by his disciples how to pray, Jesus included this phrase: “Don’t bring us into testing” (Matt. 6:13, my translation). He didn’t mean don’t entice me (with a piece of cake during Lent). I think it’s closer to I’m not sure I want to know what I’m really made of. It’s a way of saying to God, My confidence isn’t in myself. I need more of you.
These days we are living in will lead us all into testing. We’ll find out what we’re made of, what we’re filled with, what’s at the center — personally, in our families, in our society, and as a church.
Thank God, we are given help and encouragement to be filled and centered in Jesus Christ. God’s deal is not just to bust us for our lack of him (though we need a wake-up call), but to help us live full and centered in him.
For example, Westminster (where I serve) is spending Lent focusing on Jesus giving the greatest commandment in Mark 12. Memorize this, and recite it regularly:
“The most important [commandment],” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
This is how to live in this world as a centered person. To live this out, we need more and more and more of God’s life in us. We need to be centered.
This crisis is a golden opportunity to become centered in Jesus. [Insert long conversation here about all this entails.] For now, just do one thing to be more centered. Listen to a song. Read the Bible. Stop and breathe, pray and listen.
One wonderful little tool I’ve recently become aware of is the One Minute Pause app from John Eldredge & Ransomed Heart. Find it here: http://www.pauseapp.com. It’s a great way to take a minute (or 3, or 5, or 10) to fill your bottle.
Grace and peace to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Bob Jacobs has served for 13 years as the Senior Pastor of Westminster Church, Rapid City. He shares a deep commitment to see our community thrive in love for one another, especially in trying times like these. If you're interested in more of Bob's writings, check out his personal blog at www.brittlecrazyglass.wordpress.com.