Is This All There Is?

We went away. We prep little adventures ahead of time, both my husband and I knowing full well that I get unbearably antsy if we stay in one place for too long. Call it whatever you like, but a change of pace in the midst of seeming oncoming acedia gives way to deep pangs of gratefulness for the routine in my life; a double-sided grace with exhale and clear sightedness that breaks through the fog that seems to threaten our purposes and callings here and there.

There’s something about the mountain fresh air in the Pacific Northwest, and it did a number for our lungs and bodies as we took in the glories of Mount Rainier, the snow we know well in Michigan seeming new and wild in a different setting. As we took step after step, the breath between us being some of the only sounds we could hear, the praise of God’s general revelation in splendor around us led us to ask some of our favorite questions to one another, vertical to horizontal, “what are you dreaming about?” which always leads to this gift of vividly seeing what the Spirit is doing in and through each of us.

IMG_3312.JPG

I have still been processing through my time listening and learning a few weeks ago at Calvin, and a few of Fleming Rutledge’s words from her mini-sermonette have lingered and left marks. In the last minutes of what she taught on, she opened us up to the scene of the Wedding at Cana, inserting the words, “is this all there is?” onto the guests lips, our wide eyes being struck by this vivid depiction of not just something that happened however long ago, but every day. This feast, a picture of salvation for the Jewish people, runs out of its very source of life.

Even as I walk through the book of Amos, it is so clear that the stories in Scripture are not too far removed. We look too much at ourselves, concerned with making sure that the way we’d like to live and believe fits into whatever religion we buy into, worshipping consistently without it truly costing us anything, and yet left ironically scratching our heads wondering why it has all run out. Is this all there is?

Entitlement, pursuing the many gifts and not the giver makes many wells into empty cisterns. We drink and drink and drink and find ourselves coming up dry, parched, thirsty. These things can not save.

Jesus performs a miracle. For so long, this miracle has been mostly lost on me, though an introduction of Christ on the scene as doing a new thing is remarkable as well as a theme throughout the book of John. As many were drinking freely, left asking the question we all have attested to asking at least once in our lifetime, “is this all there is?” the Messiah responds through this miracle with a prophetic no. He sees the situation, and He enters in.

Drink this cup, and do this in remembrance of me.

He is all there is. This new thing, this new wine, this best and better wine, is He. Drink deeply. And so He begins His self-giving ministry as depicted in the Gospel of John.

If you would have asked a year ago what I am dreaming about, I would have been able to name a list of things that would happen right in perfect timing, ensuring financial stability and obvious fulfilling happiness. These things were beautifully packaged and masked in these dreams being “holy,” as I had worshipped this god created with gifts I had been given, and at the same time saying that I earned it. The wine has run out. Certainly, I spent a season hard pressed in asking God that ridiculous question: is this all there is?

Truly out of breath, barely choking out the answer to the question we asked each other, I found little whispers of hope, like wildflowers poking through the snowy brush on the wonderland trail. I have not been perfected, at least, not in the way I would like it. I begged God for many miracles as I thought He would leave me in the desert, yet He helped me to see that I was grasping after a mirage in the sand while He offered up true filling for my parched soul in Himself. Drink deeply. He is the miracle. He will come through in restoring joy to your salvation, because He is the fulfillment of that joyous promise.

He is all there is. He is everything.

We tend to make this journey through life all about us (something I am guilty of as well), and only very rarely taking a step back to stop and see His gracious hand touching so many parts and pieces of our lives. With step after step, thankful for wool socks and waterfalls, we recounted and remembered in ways that moved our being, and we hope that today with our feet back on Michigan soil, we could discover a similar richness in the goodness of what He has called us to here and now. He has seen our situation, and He has not failed to always enter in.

I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.
— Flannery O'Connor