This last weekend the Gospel reading was John 2:1-11, which is the familiar story of the Wedding at Cana. Jesus changes water to wine. He shows Himself to be God, using 1st Article type of things to reveal that. Then as that is revealed to us, we see the 3rd Article at work - the Holy Spirit using the Word to show us our Savior, the One who has come into this world to save us from sin, death and the power of the devil. It is a tremendous text. There is much we can learn as we sit at the feet of the Word and let it guide us day after day.
I sat there and listened to what the reading was saying. As I did, prayer opened up before me. Yes, prayer. Not that it moved me to pray at that moment, but it taught me something important about prayer, which then moved me to pray. Mary showed me how to pray. Now you can say that Mary doesn't pray in this reading. And in some ways, you are correct. There are only two things that Mary does. When the wine is running out, she goes to her Son and says, "They have no wine." Then after Jesus' response, she goes to the servants and says, "Do whatever He says." When it comes to prayer, this doesn't rank up there with the top 10 most moving prayers of all times. In fact, it probably doesn't even make the chart.
But it taught me about prayer. When I pray, I take the cares and concerns to the Lord. I lay out the problem, the situation, the reason I am praying (which is a good thing) and then I proceed to inform the Lord on how He ought to answer those concerns. It even try to tell Him when to do it. "Lord, this person is ill. Please heal this person of this illness. Do it now so that they feel better. Don't let them have any difficulty with this illness. Make the Doctors smart enough to find out the problem NOW and then fix it NOW. And by the way, Your will be done. Amen." All right, maybe my prayer isn't that crass, but in some ways, it is just that.
Mary says simply, "They have no wine." She states the problem. Jesus tells her that His hour had not yet come (meaning that it wasn't the time to act). God's time is what is important not our time. He knows at just the right moment when to act. He knows what the right time is. If He would have taken away the pain I had in my chest back in March of 2011, I would still have a sick gall bladder and undetected heart blockage. I prayed for Him to take the pain away. I begged Him to act at that moment. When I went to the ER, I was certain that if I prayed fervently enough, God would take the pain away, would make me feel well and life would go on. I TOLD Him. Mary says, "They have no wine." Perhaps a better prayer would have been, "Lord, I hurt." Laying the problem firmly in His hands,, then trusting Him to act.
That is tough to do, isn't it? We want to tell God what to do. We want to inform Him in how to act. Instead, we are to lay it before Him, and then wait on the Lord. Be still and wait on the Lord. "But I hurt!" was my cry. "I know you do," He responds. Then another line of Mary's comes into play. "Do whatever He tells you." Do whatever He tells you. Go to the doctor. But they don't know anything. They will, in time. But I don't want to wait. Wait for the Lord. Be still and wait for the Lord. But...be still and wait for the Lord. I know your problem. I know the outcome. Remember, I can change water to wine. I can give life from death. I can show the doctors what your problem is. Just wait for Me to act in My time, in My hour. When it is right, it will happen. But...hush My child.
Do whatever He says. Off to the doctor. Off to tests. Off to surgery. And amazingly enough, in His time, I find myself in 2013, doing well. Sick gall bladder removed at the right time - check. Heart blockage found in His time - check. Good result at echo stress test 1 1/2 years later - check. In His time, in His way.
Lord, here is my problem. I lay it before you. Now I pray, not to tell you what to do, but asking You to give me strength to face this problem, patience to wait for Your time, and faith to trust in You. Amen.
Water to wine - teaching me that God will act in His time, when it is His will. Now, if only I can remember that the next time I pray.