During a period of disharmony amongst the Manchester United football team, their manager came under some criticism and is reported to have defended himself, saying, “I am not a dictator, I am a communicator”. I don’t know anything about Louis van Gaal’s leadership style, but what a great description of Jesus, who, as our verse for today says, doesn’t push us around, but, by His Spirit working deeply and gently within us, communicates the Father’s love to us.
Sometimes it can be as if we see, or even want, Jesus to be a dictator. I remember, in my longing for healing, crying out to Him for the agenda, the plan, and the instructions. I pleaded with Him, “Please, just give me the passage to read, the prayer to pray, whatever it is I have to do!” It seemed logical to me. If He could give me a tick list, however long it was, however hard it was, I’d be determined, I’d set my will to work hard and achieve all that was on that list and tick off all the boxes. Then I’d be fixed! Healed! A fully transformed person!
I didn’t understand how confused my perceptions were: that the truth was that healing wasn’t dependent on me working hard and ‘getting it right’, and that, by His amazing grace and mercy, Jesus was much more interested in communicating God’s love than dictating any agenda, or even ministering the healing I was so desperate for. I have to admit that, at times, I found it all utterly frustrating, and would keep coming back to railing at Him, “I just want the agenda!”
Over the years I’ve come to realise that there are many of us who try to relate with Jesus in this way: pleading, cajoling, trying, and demanding. Even though it’s true, He never thunders back at us, “I’m not a dictator, I’m a communicator!” Instead, graciously and patiently, by His Spirit working deeply and gently within us, He communicates Father God’s love to us.
It takes time. It’s not the quick fix perhaps we’re crying out for. We have to be humbly willing to play our part: yielding to His way, that really isn’t our way. But it produces His very best. Gradually our eyes are opened.
By the very fact that Jesus doesn’t respond with the harshness we perhaps expect, His Holy Spirit begins to do His deep and gentle work of melting our defences. By the fact that He remains patient with us, is kind and gentle and doesn’t get irritable or touchy with us, He does His work of opening our hearts to the Father’s love. And by the fact that He believes in us and never gives up on us, perseveres with us and never fails us, bit by bit, He does His work of helping us to truly receive in our hearts what we’ve needed all along: His all compassionate, deep and unconditional love. And, far greater than simply receiving the healing of debilitating symptoms, then we have the greatest gift of all.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve tried and tried, and wanted agendas and tick lists, but I’m frustrated and weary of it all. Please help me to let go of trying to do it my way, which has become so ingrained in me. I want to see You as You really are – not a dictator god who wants to push me around. I want to allow You to work deeply in my mind, to melt my defences and do Your deep and gentle work of opening my heart and communicating Father God’s true love to my innermost being. Amen.