Most anyone who knows me, knows that I'm happily married and crazy about my husband. But there wasn't always a Michael in my life! I spent many years as a single adult. In fact, I didn't get married the first time till I was thirty.
My mom was alive then, and I'd talk to her about how much I'd like to be married and have someone to love -- and I'd always end up saying, "Well, the Lord will work it out. He'll bring the right person into my life. I just need to wait for him to take care of it."
And my mother listened to all that for quite awhile, but finally, she said, "Fine! Wait for the Lord! But while you're waiting, don't just stand there - FILL THOSE WATER POTS!"
Excellent advice! Trusting God isn't necessarily being passive. In fact, trusting God almost never means doing nothing while we wait for God to do whatever he's going to do. From Genesis to Revelation, we see a God who is the ultimate power and inspiration, but a God who wants to work WITH us to get the job done.
And along the way, he gives us instructions -- just as he did in the gospel of John, when he told the servants to fill the water pots, and he then turned the water into wine.
Imagine ... what if the servants HADN'T followed Jesus' instructions? I'm sure it crossed their minds to just say, "No way!" Six stone water pots, each holding twenty or thirty gallons, plus the weight of the pot itself? Incredibly heavy! This is really hard work. And the servants were probably already run ragged cooking and preparing food and drink, and serving all the wedding guests.
The last thing they needed was to have to lug these huge, heavy pots to the well, fill them with water, and lug them back -- for no good reason that they knew of. WHAT IF ... they'd just refused, and told Jesus, "No!"?
Well, you know the answer as well as I do: no wine for the wedding guests. The celebration's over. There would be deep embarrassment for the groom and bride and their families. And there would be no demonstration of the power of God, which caused the disciples, and probably others, to really begin believing in Jesus. The work of God would not have been done ... no miracle.
Could Jesus have managed this miracle without the servants' help? Sure, he could have. He spoke the world into being, didn't he? But ... almost every time ... Jesus uses US to help bring the miracle to pass. The power, the wisdom, the miracle -- they're all his. But he uses US to accomplish his will.
I like to say, and I really believe, that almost always, serving God is just really joyful because we're using the gifts he gave us to serve him. And that usually means we get to do things we like to do. But do you know what? Filling water pots is absolutely NO ONE'S idea of a good time.
Yet, sometimes in our ministry of serving God by serving others, the water pots need to be filled ... and if we want to see God's work get done, if we want to see the miracle ... WE have to fill those water pots.
A very wise person, unknown to me, once said, "The secret of patience is keeping busy while we wait." While we wait for the right job ... the right person ... for healing ... for the miracle, whatever it may be ... there are still water pots to be filled. There's a life to live. There's service that God is calling us to.
There's our own growth to attend to -- growth in discipleship, in obedience, into an ever-deeper relationship with Jesus. God may ask us to wait from time to time ... but he doesn't require us to be passive. If we're impatient and anxious, he may ask us to trust him ... but he's still VERY interested in doing his will on this earth, and he'll ask us to be a part of it.
And while filling heavy water pots may be no one's idea of fun, if we do as we're told, we can sometimes be part of a miracle. That trust and obedience give us the JOY we seek, and we find that God rewards our patience by blessing not only US ... but those around us, as well.
Rev. Susan Bennett is pastor of Stockbridge Presbyterian Church. She and her husband live in Stockbridge with two giant Rottweilers and a 15-pound rescue dog who is the boss of everybody.