When You Are in a Jam

  • When You Are in a Jam
  • Psalm 18 & John 2:3
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • July 15, 2018
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7-15-18 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

For far too many people, insomnia has become an all too common experience. You fluff your pillow hoping that if you can get it just right you might be able to drift off. It doesn’t work.

You flip from your side to your stomach in hopes that a new position might do the trick. It doesn’t work either. Maybe another blanket? Maybe without the blanket? You try all of the usual tactics, but nothing seems to be helpful. You long for sleep, but sleep simply will not come.

It isn’t your pillow, the bed or the blanket. It’s your mind. The rest of the world has gone to sleep, but your thoughts refuse to leave you alone no matter what you attempt to put them at bay. There is something about night time when everyone else is asleep that allows our thoughts to run rampant.

Maybe it is the quiet. Maybe it’s the dark. Maybe it’s both. Regardless, you find yourself replaying the events of your day or contemplating what is ahead for tomorrow; in some cases, borrowing trouble from the next day.

For many, it is the economy. The financial future you planned is no longer a reality. Life has shifted when you were expected it to stand still. You worry about what all of this means for you and your family.

For some it is relationships. You don’t know how things ever got this bad. Where love and friendship once abounded, hurtful words and painful actions have combined together to build a relational barrier that seems insurmountable.

For others it is paralyzing fear. Fear of failure. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. Life feels as if it is anything but manageable. Life feels beyond your control and in reality, in many ways, it is.

Here at LakeRidge we’ve been asking ourselves the question, “What Keeps You Up at Night?” because we believe there has never been a more timely or relevant question for us to ask. Far too many people are living with sleepless nights.

It is my firm belief that if the question is, “What Keeps You Up at Night?” then God’s word has the answers for us. For in the Bible, God’s Word, we find the hope and the help we need as we face life’s struggles. This morning we look at “When You Find Yourself in a Jam.”

 

We are currently in the midst of what is known in our society as “The Wedding Season”. More couples decide to get married in the spring and summer than any other time of the year.

I want to ask you to imagine that it is the wedding day of your son or daughter, or maybe that of a brother or sister. It is the big day for someone you love. Everything has gone perfectly for the big day. The bride has never looked more beautiful as she processes down the aisle in her designer wedding gown. The groom has never looked more dapper. The music is amazing. The flowers are stunning. The pastor is inspiring. The ceremony is what everyone hoped and dreamed of for the happy couple.

Now it is time for the reception. It is time to party, to celebrate this happy occasion. The dinner is divine. The band is jamming. The décor is fabulous. There is only one problem. Where’s the wedding cake?

Someone steps outside the reception hall, grabs a cell phone and makes a quick call to the bakery, “Where the wedding cake?” “What cake?,” comes back the reply. “We had you down on the calendar for next weekend.” Long story made short, there is no cake.

Does this sound familiar? It just might. This is very much like a scenario that Jesus’ mother, Mary, found herself dealing with. A wedding has taken place. Everything is going along swimmingly when someone comes to the conclusion that they are out of wine.

If we can’t imagine a wedding without a cake today, likewise it would have been similarly impossible to think about having a proper wedding reception without wine during Jesus’ day and time.

To offer someone wine was to show respect to your guests. Not to offer wine at a wedding would have been considered an insult; so we have a fairly big problem brewing in this situation.

This wasn’t the kind of problem that requires a call to 911, but at the same time it was a big deal, especially if this happens to be the wedding of someone you care deeply about.

Many of the kinds of problems that keep us up at night fall into a similar category. Most of the time what we are dealing with isn’t of a global nature. Maybe we are running behind? Maybe something gets misplaced? Maybe we forget something we should have remembered?

On their own, these aren’t life threatening situations, but if left unattended these are the kinds of situations that can end up essentially pouring fuel on a fire. It is the snowflake that becomes a snow ball that becomes an avalanche unless it is taken care of.

 

Because this is the sort of thing that happens to us all too often in life, I think it is a great idea for us to look at how Mary decided to handle this situation, for within her reaction are some great principles that we would do well to utilize when we find ourselves in a jam.

 1 The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. 3 The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

 4 “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

 5 But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 6 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. 7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, 8 he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions.

 9 When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. 10 “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”

 11 This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

Mary simply walked up to Jesus when He arrives for the festivities and says, “We have no more wine” (John 2:3). That’s all she says. She didn’t come to him in a panic. It doesn’t say that she was beside herself with frustration. What Mary did was to assess the situation and gave it over to Jesus. “We have no more wine.” That’s it.

John Dewey has a famous quote attributed to him which says, “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” I think Mary understood the truth of John Dewey’s thesis.

Mary could have reacted in any number of ways. She could have gotten all worked up and said, “Whose job was it to make the arrangements for the wine? Whose fault is this?”

She could have said, “Woe is me. I can’t believe this is happening. Why me? Why now of all times?”

When we find ourselves in a jam it is easy to focus upon everything but the solution – therefore we have sleepless nights. Mary didn’t do that however. She simply assessed the situation and took it to the right person. She knew she was dealing with something that she didn’t have the ability to fix, but she knew someone who did.

Let’s note that Mary took the problem to Jesus before she took it to anyone else. This is no small detail. All too often what we like to do is to parade our problems around to all kinds of other people living by the theory that, “If all else fails then I’ll pray.” That’s some messed up, backward thinking when we act that way.

What is it that causes us to view prayer as a last resort or final option when everything else has been tried? It has been suggested that it can most likely be boiled down to one of two things: feelings of independence and feelings of insignificance.

  1. Feelings of Independence: Sometimes we like to think that we are big enough to solve our own problems. Similar to the young child who refuses to allow his or her parent to help with something as they look up and state, “No, I do it.” If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I know that for me it makes me proud when I see my girls grow and develop, when they take steps toward maturity, but deep down inside I hope there is a part of them that never feels that they are too grown up to call their mom and dad. God feels the same way about us.

  1. Feelings of Insignificance: Other times we don’t feel independent at all. As a matter of fact, we feel the exact opposite. We feel insignificant. We look at this story from the Bible and we think, “Well sure, Mary can go ask Jesus to help out. She’s his mother after all, but who am I to ask for Jesus’ help with my life?”

If you’ve ever felt that way then I want to direct you an important verse of Scripture that we find in the Old Testament book of Psalms 18:19, “Because he delights in me, he saved me.”

If you thought the reason God cares about you is because you are a decent, upstanding citizen, because you are beautiful, because you are smart or because you have a great attitude, then I hate to burst your bubble, but that simply isn’t true.

If that was true then what do you do about the days when your actions aren’t upstanding? What about when your looks begin to fade, because they all do? What about when your mind fails you? What about when your attitude stinks?

If that was the case, then your salvation would fall short at some point. There are all kinds of reasons as to why God saves us: to bring glory to Himself, to appease His need for justice, to demonstrate His sovereignty.

But one of the best reasons I know as to why God saves you and me is because He delights Himself in us. He likes you. He wants to be around you. He believes that you are wonderful to behold.

Isaiah 2:5 says, “As a man rejoices over his new wife, so your God will rejoice over you.”

Let me ask a quick question of all the husbands here. Is there any better moment then, when on your wedding day, they open up the back doors of the church and your bride comes walking through the doors looking more radiant than she ever has before? There is nothing like the way you feel in that moment.  Scripture tells us that is how God feels about each of us.

The very last thing any of us should worry about is being a nuisance to God. All you need to concentrate on is doing what he tells you to do.

 

Note the sequence of events in the next verse of the wedding story from Canna of Galilee: “Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ So they filled the jars to the top. Then he said to them, ‘Now take some out and give it to the master of the feast.’ So they took the water to the master. When he tasted it, the water had become wine.” (John 2:7-9)

Did you catch the sequence of events? First the jars were filled with water. Then Jesus instructed the servants to take the water (not the wine) to the master.

Now, if I’m a servant I don’t want to do that. How on earth is that going to solve the problem? What is the master going to say when I give him a cup of water?

But the servants either had enough naiveté or trust to do what Jesus said and obeyed. What if the servants had refused? What if they had said, “No way am I going to do that?”

Let’s bring all of this a little bit closer to home. What if I refuse to do what Jesus asks of me? What if you refuse to do what Jesus asks of you? What if we identify the problem, take the problem to Jesus, but then we refuse to do what Jesus says?

It isn’t such a far-fetched scenario you know. After all, God asks us take some pretty gutsy steps from time to time.

  • Money is tight, but He still asks us to give.
  • You’ve been offended, but He still asks you to forgive.
  • Someone else blew an assignment, but He asks you to be patient.
  • You can’t see where God is at work, but He still asks you to trust.

Jesus never suggested that having faith made everything easy, but then again it isn’t easy staying up at night with your thoughts either. I don’t believe that God would ask us to do these sorts of things unless He believed that it was possible for us to do them.

The next time you find yourself in a jam, the next time you can’t sleep at night because your mind is racing over a problem, again and again and again, try what Mary did:

  • Identify the problem.
  • Present it Jesus.
  • Do what he says.