With no cell service and no trail map, we had just our memory of a fixed map at the trailhead to guide us. More than an hour later, we finally emerged from the woods into the parking lot. Having missed the turn-off that would have made for a half-mile hike, we took a much longer trek.
Life can be like that: we have to ask not simply if something is right or wrong, but where it will lead. Psalm 1 compares two ways of living—that of the righteous (those who love God) and that of the wicked (the enemies of those who love God). The righteous flourish like a tree, but the wicked blow away like chaff (vv. 3–4). This psalm reveals what flourishing really looks like. The person who lives it out is dependent on God for renewal and life.
So how do we become that kind of person? Among other things, Psalm 1 urges us to disengage from destructive relationships and unhealthy habits and to delight in God’s instruction (v. 2). Ultimately, the reason for our flourishing is God’s attentiveness to us: “The
Commit your way to God, let Him redirect you from old patterns that lead to nowhere, and allow the Scriptures to be the river that nourishes the root system of our hearts.
When our oldest child became a teenager, my wife and I gave her a journal that we’d been writing in since her birth. We’d recorded her likes and dislikes, quirks and memorable one-liners. At some point the entries became more like letters, describing what we see in her and how we see God at work in her. When we gave it to her on her thirteenth birthday, she was mesmerized. She’d been given the gift of knowing a crucial part of the origins of her identity.
In blessing something as common as bread, Jesus was revealing its identity. What it—along with all creation—was made to reflect: God’s glory. I believe Jesus was also pointing to the future of the material world. All creation will one day be filled with the glory of God. So in blessing bread (Matthew 26:26), Jesus was pointing to the origin and the destiny of creation (Romans 8:21-22).
Maybe the “beginning” of your story feels messed up. Maybe you don’t think there’s much of a future. But there’s a bigger story. It’s a story of a God who made you on purpose and for a purpose, who took pleasure in you. It’s a story of God who came to rescue you (v. 28); a God who put His Spirit in you to renew you and recover your identity. It’s a story of a God who wants to bless you.
We met every Thursday after he lost his wife in a car accident. Sometimes he came with questions to which no answers exist, sometimes he came with memories he wanted to relive. Over time, he accepted that even though the accident was a result of the brokenness in our world, God could work in the midst of it. A few years later, he taught a class at our church about grief and how to lament well. Soon, he became our go-to guide for people experiencing loss. Sometimes it’s when we don’t feel like we have anything to offer that God takes our “not enough” and makes it “more than enough.”
Jesus told His disciples to give the people something to eat. They’d protested that there was nothing to give; Jesus multiplied their meager supplies and then turned back to the disciples and gave them the bread, as if to say, “I meant it: You give them something to eat!” Christ will do the miraculous, but He often chooses to involve us.
Jesus says to us, “Place who you are and what you have in My hands; Your broken life. Your story. Your frailty and your failure, your pain and your suffering. Put it in My hands. You’ll be surprised what I can do with it.” Jesus knows that out of our emptiness, He can bring fullness. Out of our weakness, He can reveal His strength.