I recently went on a family vacation to Savannah, Georgia and while it was a truly great time with some great people there was a moment that bears mentioning. It wasn't out of the ordinary, as a matter of fact if you were listening to the conversation you wouldn't have probably given it a second thought. But this moment like many others continues to remind me that the extraordinary often pierces through what we might classify as the ordinary.
The moment I'm talking about happened as we were arriving to our rental home for the weekend. We had seen pictures on the internet and thought that we would be staying in this super nice home that would suit 8 comfortably. When we arrived though we found something different than what we were expecting, for one we had to park our cars in a pretty sketchy ally and found that the house really only creatively comfortably housed 8 (The wonders of air mattresses). In this moment where our expectations were met face to face with the reality of our situation someone followed by a chorus of followers asked "Is this really it? This isn't what I was expecting."
I'm sure my family and I aren't the only ones to have this experience, I mean it could happen on a blind date (Tall, dark and handsome my butt), or a class (You want how many pages on that paper). Those moments of feeling deceived by a friend on the attractiveness of a peer or feeling over burdened by a professor can leave us feeling betrayed or drained.
While I don't mean to downplay the seriousness of those times, what I want to focus on is when those "Really??? This is it??" moments creep into our relationship with God. Those time where we find ourselves in a situation that may be incredibly painful, fear stricken or immersed with doubt and our temptation is to look at God and say " Really, Is this it?" One such man that found himself in that situation is John The Baptist.
In Matthew 11 John the Baptist finds himself in prison and while there sends a messenger to Jesus asking him " Are you the Coming One or do we look for another?" (Matt. 11:2) This question might seem outlandish or strange coming from John the Baptist but we have to realize that he found himself very much in a situation like this. The Jews had expected a political savior so in their mind when the Messiah came he would deliver them from under the thumb of the Romans. You see this at several points when the crowd would want to make Jesus king only for Him to retreat.
So John the Baptist found himself in an extremely difficult situation being in jail and not having his expectations of how God would work through His chosen Messiah met. How often do we find ourselves in this position, broken over our current situation and asking God why He isn't working the way we thought He would... even subtly finding ourselves asking "Is this really it? Are You really the One?"
Christ answers his question not with judgement but rather with a beautiful reminder:
“Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor."
He responds to John's question by reminding him of how exactly He is at work in the present situation. He tells them of the healing He is bringing to those who are broken and lost. He shows John the Baptist that their expectation of a political agenda is so far inferior to His work of restoration.
I think when I humbly look at my life the moments where I most commonly want to ask "Is this it God? Are you really the One?" come when I'm more focused on my agenda rather than His will. I can just imagine Christ calling out to me saying "Dustin I pursued you when you were unlovely and rebellious, I delivered You, I have purchased you, I am redeeming you, I have presented you as blameless before my Father and am even now working in you to make that a present reality."
So my encouragement for myself and all of us is when we find ourselves in those situations where we want to cry out in confusion and frustration is to remind ourselves of two things.
1.) Remember that Christ cares more about redeeming that which is broken than He does keeping us comfortable.
2.) When tempted to ask what are You doing God, we must remind ourselves of all that He has already done for us in the Gospel through Jesus.
The reason these can bring us comfort in those hard times is because the answer to John's question "Are you the Coming One, the One we have been waiting on, The One we can find rest and hope in?" is a resounding restoringly emphatic YES