Don’t Ever Forget the End of His Story….. when you are weary and weepy from grief.

AmberOBrien"

Transformation. One of my favorite examples in nature is the grounded, ugly caterpillar who transforms into a beautiful butterfly who joyfully flutters into the fresh, spring sky.  Similarly, one of my favorite Jesus stories is how He transformed six large stone jars filled with plain water miraculously into wine. Not just any wine……the best wine.

Do you feel like the ugly, grounded caterpillar today? or do you feel as empty as a stone jar? Perhaps you have cried so many tears that you believe you could have filled one of those 30 gallon containers. I have scribbled notes in my Bible next to the Wedding of Cana story during three desert times in my life in which I felt like a caterpillar struggling in a dark cocoon to be set free from the downward pull of grief. Three times when I felt as cold and empty as one of the stone jars.  The notes read : I feel weak. a second time: so tired, empty. and third: weepy, headache.

But those notes are not the end of my story because I came and sat at the feet of Jesus day after day and He gently changed those tear-filled jars into sweet, joyful wine. He helped me to shed the cocoon of sadness and grief.

And  next to those sad words during those dry times, this verse is scribbled in my bible next to the Wedding of Cana (John Ch. 2)

I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows. Jeremiah 31: 13

Let us never forget the end of the story.  In the physical, caterpillars change into butterflies and the best wine is produced during dry seasons when the vine roots go deep and the grapes produced are the sweetest.  In the spiritual, ordinary water is transformed into sweet wine, wine is changed into the redeeming blood of the Lamb and God changes our weary, weepy hearts into hearts overflowing with hope and joy.

What did Mary tell the servers in this first miracle of Jesus? she told them,

Do “whatever He tells you.”

So your role in this transformation is to trust and obey. Sometimes like the butterfly we are to just wait and let God heal in His own sweet time as He  transforms our broken hearts. While we wait we can show our trust by writing down what we are thankful for and worshiping God even in the dark cocoon when we do not understand the whys.  I have found that we don’t need to know the Why’s…We just need to get to know the “who”. The names of God are adjectives that help us to know Him better. Meditate on the names and the character of God.  (He is love, He is good, and He is in Control  is a phrase I repeat often when struggling in a dark cocoon of doubt or confusion)

Another positive choice would  be to join a support group and let God use people to show His love and to help you heal.  Also, exercise and fresh air is such a necessary gift so go out often and take walks in nature and see the beauty and hope that God desires to share with you.  Reach out and seek to help others, as the servers took action and filled the jars with water. Allow Jesus’ touch to transform these acts of service into healing for you and those around you.

So my advice would be to start the day in quiet with Jesus and in His word (write down three things you are thankful for in your journal after you write out all your emotions and questions)  and then seek ways to show care for your body and those around you while you wait for transformation.

Nothing is wasted in God’s kingdom and so during this time of slow, painful drought is when your spiritual roots will spread down the deepest.  One cannot race past this time of growth and strengthening, just as one should not remove the butterfly before his wings are strong enough to fly. Trust and obey during this desert time. Bit by Bit keep seeking out the next best choice. Make healthy choices for your mind, body and soul.  Staying hydrated sometimes is the first best choice if you’ve been crying or have a headache.

Just as the Jesus saved the best Wine for the 2nd half of the wedding reception, we believe that God promises the same for His children. He promises the Best is yet to be…..in this world and beyond.

So…….What do the final verses of the Greatest book of all time say…….God’s final promises to His people ?

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain for the old order has passed away. Behold, I make all things new. ( Rev. 21: 3-5 )

 

 

 

How your tears can be transformed into sweet wine #5 Mary at the Wedding of Cana

AmberOBrien"

 

Oh my dear Sweet Sister…..have you been waiting and hoping for something to change in your life? Are you searching for transformation?  Perhaps you have been praying for a relationship to be healed, a broken heart to be mended or maybe a sickly body to be restored to a healthy one?   Do you feel as if you are walking in a desert place and need hope and refreshment?  Jesus changes water into wine and He can make something beautiful out of whatever you are facing.

img_9289ma31635405-0002

He not only changed the water into wine but He created the sweetest and best wine for the later part of the reception. Come join your sweet sisters in this study and find out how “He saves the Best for last.”

Our focus in this series “Man…..Does Jesus Love His Women” is the close relationship Jesus had with many women in the New Testament.  The story of the Wedding of Cana reveals Jesus first miracle and gives us insight into his relationship with his mother Mary.

Let’s start by reading slowly John 2: 1-12.

Imagine yourself in this scene as Mary. During Biblical times a wedding festival included the entire town and lasted many days and to run out of wine would be an embarrassment to the wedding party as well as a huge disappointment to all who attended. Most people in biblical times labored long hours and had few opportunities for feasting and celebrating.

  1. If you were Mary and had a son who you knew could “change the situation”  ……what would you do?

She came to him and face to face she told him the situation. He questioned her with,“Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come.”

 But she did not give up. She took action and assumed that He would help.  He respected his Mother Mary and let God use her to continue to unfold God’s perfect plan. He listened to her concern. He responded to her.  Isn’t this the give and take of what a true love relationship entails?

  1.   “Do whatever He tells you.”   What kind of statement is this?

This is a statement of faith. A command from our “mother” to follow what God asks us to do. Let us consider what the servants needed to do to follow what Jesus asked them to do.

  1. How did the jars start off  They were Empty.
  2. Then the servants were asked to ? fill them with water ……..the servants had to make numerous trips to the well to fill up the 20-30 gallon stone jars. A total of 100 gallons of water. Wow!

We must become like the stone jars sweet sister.  We must empty ourselves out first before we can be filled with the holy spirit.  We prepare ourselves for the gift of God bubbling up within us with the confessing of our sins and the emptying of ourselves as we surrender our lives to God.   What could the water represent in this story?

Could our tears be as the water that was needed to fill the jars before the miracle occurs?

During desert times of loss and heartache, we cry tears that are precious to the Lord. If fact, in Psalm 56:8 the bible states that God collects our tears in a bottle.

img_8552ma31635394-0001

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.

Could these huge stone jars be as the bottle reminding us that Jesus not only weeps with us but is collecting our tears to someday change them into the sweetest and finest wine?

We serve a God that keeps changing things.

He started off in Genesis changing dust into a man.

Then he made a woman out of a man’s rib.

Now at a Wedding in Cana, He changes ordinary water into extraordinary sweet, sweet wine.

To my  sweet sisters, remember that you can draw near to Jesus as Mary did and tell him your situation. Repent and turn from any sin.  Let him collect your tears in His jar and trust that he promises to change your tears to sweet joy. If we draw near to him…the best is yet to be.

(To my Catholic sweet sisters, remember that Mary is now up in Heaven around the throne of God with all the angels and saints.  She has influence still and you can ask for her to pray with you to our Lord Jesus Christ.)

Now please turn to John Ch. 15  to read about how Jesus relates his followers to the grape branches and that He is like a vine.

3. How can we be sure to produce good grapes and wine?

Yes! We need to remain close to Jesus. 

applephoto

Reflect on the close relationship Mary had with her son Jesus at this wedding receptions. She spoke her request and then she listened. She encouraged others to follow him as well and to do “Everything He tells you”.

4. What if I feel as if I am in a drought and I don’t see any change happening in my situation or the situation of one of my family members?

Oh. Sweet Sister I understand. I’ve experienced times of drought while grieving.  Maybe you don’t see anything good with loss right now and think this time is just a waste of time and energy. I also have had  times of worry and angst over the choices or the situation of a family member.  I have seen many family members and friends struggle in times of drought and the fear can be overwhelming for those feeling helpless as we watch.

If you or a loved one is in a season of drought imagine the roots of your faith and the faith of your loved ones growing deep and wide under the surface. You can’t see the roots of the grape plant but it is during times of drought and heat that the best grapes are produced. The smaller grapes contain a more condensed juice that in turn produces a sweeter wine.  The Dessert wine (the sweetest wine of all) has been left on the vine an extra month. So if you feel exhausted from waiting, remember the best grapes have to wait the longest and that God has not forgotten you or your situation.

Our desert times can produce the sweetest dessert wine if we choose to remain on the vine.

Truly truly friend….God is able to use a drought to produce sweet wine.

If we listen and follow what He says to do.

If we remain close to Him.

If we have faith as Mary did and assume He wants to help.

  1. What Action can you do to show your faith ?

a. Perhaps writing down three things that you are thankful for.

b. Writing 10 good things about the person who is challenging you.

c. Asking a friend to pray with you. Or for you.

d. Turn on praise music and sing along or just read the words and soak it in.

e. Reach out to someone who is suffering their own desert time….a person whose loss or struggle is more recent.  Trust often means releasing the situation into God’s strong and loving hands and then focusing on helping those God has put in your path.

God is all about transformation and doesn’t waste anything. He even collects our tears and in His own time changes them to the sweetest of wines.  So trust that God will use this desert time to cause your roots of faith to go deep and your future compassion for others will be as sweet as the dessert wine served after a special dinner.

2 corinthians 3-4

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

the-best-is-yet-to-be-1