The other night, I decided to read part of the Gospel of John. It was the bit where Jesus was at the wedding, chapter 2. What was it really like, I wondered, to watch this man give a few instructions that turned an enormous amount of water used for washing, into the best wine? What would I have thought, had I been there?
‘Lord,’ I said. ‘What are you showing me in this?’
I tried to imagine being at the wedding banquet. But weirdly, it was as if I was in the ladies’ room! There were cubicles, sinks. Still, sometimes odd things are God things, so I let the ‘picture’ play out. God was about to surprise me.
I could see a window, with frosted glass, open just a little, and through the crack, the very tops of the roofs of houses. I strained to see more, but couldn’t. I felt very small.
I turned away from the window. There was a door. I opened it. I found I was in a church. Next minute, I was on the platform. People were expecting me to speak. I didn’t want to. What could I say? That I felt small? Couldn’t see the way forward?
Then, it was as if Jesus was right beside me.
‘It’s all about me,’ he said. ‘I’m your reason for being. I’m your future.’
As I reflected on this ‘picture’, I realised that actually, God was speaking into something I had been wondering about all through lockdown. My identity. Who was I, really, when everything was stripped back?
Who was I, in God?
I guess feelings of being ‘small’, not in control, unable to see clearly, are natural for many of us, especially during these times. The questioning that has come through inactivity may be common to us all: unable to cover the big issues of our lives with ‘doing’, questions that usually remain unaddressed, around significance, worth, meaning, suddenly surface.
I felt Jesus continued to speak: ‘You’re my child. You have an inheritance that is not of this world. One that cannot be taken from you.’
I remembered verses given to me from 1 Peter when I was baptised. Verses on inheritance! And I realised: an inheritance isn’t earned. It’s given. That thought brought new confidence.
I have an inheritance that will never ‘perish, spoil or fade’ (1 Peter 1:4). Whatever happens, whatever the twists and turns of an uncertain life, I’m safe. I don’t have to strive, to ‘work for Jesus’, to ‘send up paving slabs’ for my celestial garden or to feel as if I am toiling away for God, like the older brother of the prodigal son. True, my works will be weighed (1 Corinthians 3:11-13) but my future is secure.
Jesus is my future. I’m a daughter. I didn’t earn that right. Jesus bought it for me. Now it’s who I am. And if you know him, it’s who you are too.
I spend too much time dwelling on the past, which can’t be changed; or trying to peer into a future, just a chink of light into an unseen, unknown world. But Jesus knows tomorrow; he also knows yesterday. He knows where I’ve been and where I’m going. And I meet him in the now. Here. Today. If I take the time to listen, I’ll hear him – never condemning: always encouraging, challenging.
Wine often equates with joy in the Bible. Jesus turns the water of our life into the very best wine. Wine we’ll enjoy with him one day at the most amazing wedding banquet… a banquet we’re all invited to.
Sheila Jacobs is an award-winning author of 17 books to date, including Humbug and Happiness (DLT), and a freelance editor, working for several Christian UK publishers. She loves encouraging new authors, and has just had an eBook published, An Editor’s Brief Guide to Writing (Malcolm Down). One of her novels, Watchers, is being reprinted this year (Malcolm Down). Sheila is a also day chaplain in a retreat house, where she is hoping to run a series of writing workshops in 2021.