Levi Lusko - Where Disappointment Grows Best
We are going to jump into our final message, the final message in our series that we've been in, 35 days of hope. We're learning to look up when we find ourselves in the middle of a pit. And this week, we want to talk about the pit of disappointment. When you find yourself thrust into a pit where you just feel disappointed, and that is real, by the way, what do you do? We're going to learn to look up. We are so glad, by the way, if you are tuning in on television, or watching this message on YouTube, or archived after the fact listening on Spotify, Apple app, awesome to have you. Thank you for being with us on the podcast. And of course, our church online family all around the world, we love you to pieces.
The title of my message this week is Where Disappointment Grows Best. Where does disappointment grow best? By the end of the sermon, we will attempt to answer that question. But disappointment is real. It's a real thing. And to be disappointed is to have basically your predictions about the future proven wrong. That is ultimately disappointment. You had this idea of what the future was going to be like, and turns, as it turns out, you're about as accurate as the weather app, which just seems to be just almost sometimes a waste of time to even look at. What's the day going to look? If you want to know what it's not going to look like, just listen to the weather news. But disappointment, and it can be a small thing, something like a home you were expecting to buy, looking forward to purchasing. And the last second, someone snuck in a different offer, or a better offer, or just ultimately the offer that was expected.
And so now what you had your heart set on is not going to be the reality, and you had almost already moved in your mind. You could see where the furniture was going to go. Maybe you already purchased the furniture, and so now you're disappointed. It could be something like a proposal that you thought was going to be given to you. You really thought he liked you enough to put a ring on that finger, and just, it's just my endless orbit of dating with no end in sight. That can be disappointing. It can be, of course, a friendship that you thought would be a meaningful part of your life for the extended future or forever that, all of a sudden, the bottom drops out on that relationship, or even just a phone call or text message that you thought was going to come, that you were going to be included, that you were going to be thought of, that you were going to be cared about.
I don't know if you've been watching the impeachment FX special on Monica Lewinsky and former President Bill Clinton, but many people in the country have been watching. And to me, what has been so fascinating about it, among other things, is just how much hope was just shattered every time the president did not call Monica, did not, after the election, I promise you, I'm going to bring you back to the White House. After the election, I'm going to, I promise you, we're going to be able to talk more. She would sit by the phone, literally, just '90s, America Online, it brought so many memories and feels back hearing the America Online modem every single time. But just here's a young lady who thought the president loved her. In her words in the show, she says, you are my world. My whole world is wrapped up in you. And just the disappointment when he wouldn't call, the disappointment in what she thought was her true friend, Linda Tripp, not such a good friend after all.
Some of you are too young to know any of what I'm talking about, and it's probably, everyone's today, like, oh, there's never been bad times like there were today. Keep letting the world spin, y'all. There's new things to get disappointed in every single day. But here's the reality, whether it's a large thing or a small thing, all of us have, and will experience, and are experiencing disappointment. So the better question, of course, is what to do when you are disappointed, where to bring your disappointment, because whether or not it's a massive thing to the world, disappointment sucks. And it can make you feel sick. In fact, that's how the Bible puts it in Proverbs chapter 13 verse 12, where it says, "Hope deferred", where you're just getting put off, like, yeah, this is going to happen, but this is not happening now. What does it do? It makes the heart, say it with me, sick. You can feel ill. There can be a literal physical experiencing of that symptom. But let's not miss out on the best part of this verse. But notice, "When the desire comes, it is a", say it with me, tree. It's a tree of life.
Throughout the series, we've been taking men and women from the Scriptures and we've been looking at their experiences of different pits. We looked at Joseph in a pit. We looked at Jonah in a pit. We looked at David in a pit. And today we want to look, to give us a case study in dealing with disappointment, we want to look at Mary Magdalene. And so if you do have a copy of the Scriptures, John chapter 19 is where we're going to be, 19 and 20, just all around this whole Jesus dying on the cross and rising from the dead that we can, at times, gloss over, because we sort of know it, like yeah, hi, been to church a few times on Easter. This is a story I know. But I think, at times, the familiarity with certain texts of Scripture can rob us of the blunt force trauma of what it would have been like to experience these things firsthand. So look at Mary with me, starting in John chapter 20, verse 1. It says, "Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.'"
Notice, by the way, the use of the word we here. She says, we do not know where they took him. The only person we know is in the story from John's gospel is Mary, but she uses we, so we'll come back to that in a moment. But you might want to circle the word we. So to get your bearings, it's Easter Sunday. It's Resurrection Sunday, and Mary is at the tomb. Mary is standing at her last touch point she had with her Savior. This is the only place on Earth she wants to be. She doesn't understand the events of the last few days, and she won't for some time. She doesn't comprehend why God would allow this to happen. She never even dreamed it was possible to hurt so bad, and she feels sick with disappointment. And what does she do? She chooses to look up. She chooses to go to Jesus. He's even dead, and she's gone to Him. She's standing there at the grave. She doesn't know what the future is going to look like. She doesn't know how it could ever get better, but with the thickness of the hope deferred, with her disappointment, she's running to God in the midst of it. She's not throwing up her hands and saying, well, we had a good run.
And some of the disciples will do that, by the way. Some of the disciples would go back to fishing. Some of the disciples will say, forget it. I made a mistake. I should never have trusted my life to You. But she is here just weeping, and sad, and disappointed. She's bringing it to the only one who can do anything about it. And as she does, she discovers something amiss. Tomb's been broken into. She assumes it's been burglarized. She assumes that the enemies of Jesus have wanted now to add insult to injury, and are somehow going to desecrate the corpse or defile it in some way, and she can't handle that. So she goes to get help. She goes to get back up. She runs to Peter and to John, who are, notice, not at the tomb. And she says, someone broke in. The stones rolled away. Jesus's body isn't there. And John, whose gospel I'll have you pay attention to, we are reading, we're not going to read it, but if you do the rest of the week continue on in the journey, which, you are allowed to read your Bible when you're not out of church. They just passed a law this week. You can read it this week. It's awesome. John tells us just the most amazing human detail, which, there are so many things in the Bible where you realize this stuff wasn't made up, and one of them is the author of John, this holy writ, who includes this really frivolous detail.
Now, Peter and I both ran to the tomb, but I arrived there first. If it was being made up, would anybody think to include such a detail that puts the apostles in such a bad light at every turn? You're supposed to be men of God. This is the biggest day on the Christian calendar, and you're getting in a foot race? I'm not going to mention any names, but one of the two disciples was faster, and it was not Peter, doesn't do enough cardio, the big boy. And Mary's like, OK, great, great, great, great, great, you won, but don't bury the lead. Jesus isn't here. And they're like, oh, yeah, sure enough. And so then look what the verse says. Verse 10, "So the disciples went away and went back to their own homes". Verse 11, "But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping". Mary's distraught, but she knows where to bring her hurt. "And as she wept, she stooped down again and looked into the tomb". She had to get low to look high. And so it always is. She stooped down, and out of that humiliation came the exaltation. God blessed her with a vision.
Notice, she looked into the tomb "and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.' Now, when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus", awesome, "standing there, and she did not know that it was Jesus". You might want to underline that phrase, she did not know that it was Jesus. "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?'" I can't help but note that Jesus does not bring her to the place He wants her to get to by the answers that He gives, but rather by the questions that He asks. He does not tell her, it is me. It is I. Mary, look at Me. He instead asks her, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? One day I do really plan to get around to a series of sermons called the questions Jesus asked, because all throughout Scriptures, he does not get people to where they ultimately are meant to go oftentimes by just giving direct information, but oftentimes, it is through those transforming revealing questions that can allow us to do some of the math on the inside that we need to.
My favorite, and I'll for sure include this in the sermon series one day that I'm going to get around to, is John chapter 5, where Jesus approaches the lame man at the pool of Bethesda and says, do you want to get better? Do you want to walk? Do you want to get well? Y'all, if it would have been 2021, he'd have been cancelled for such a. Question how dare you ask a infirm man if you want to get well? Imagine just cruising up to somebody who's paralyzed and saying, well, how'd you like to do a cartwheel? It's like, bro, it's just not sensitive enough. But listen, here's the reality that Jesus knew, not everybody who's down actually wants to get up. Some people have gotten so comfortable with disappointment that they've learned to manage their expectations, lest they dream big and get dashed again. Well, I'll probably never get married. Well, I'll probably never own a home. I'll probably never actually get to have children. I'll probably never get to start this business. And so we stay comfortable on the ground. And Jesus comes not saying, it's time to dream big. He says, do you want to stay there longer? Do you want to dream for something better? Do you want to let go of what the disappointment has done to you, and actually learn to walk?
And so to Mary, He says, "Whom are you seeking? Why are you weeping"? But notice, "She, supposing Him to be the Gardener, said to Him, 'Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take him away.'" At this point, Jesus doesn't keep it hidden anymore, but says her name, the one thing that causes every fog to clear, Mary. "She turned and said to him, 'Rabboni', which is to say, teacher. And Jesus said to her, 'Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my father, but go to my brethren and tell them, I am descending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God", because clearly implied within is the fact that Mary had fallen again low at Jesus's feet, and was looking up as he spoke. "Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that He had spoken these things to her".
So much to say about these verses, but we must start by stating the obvious, why is it that Peter did not get this encounter? Why is it that Matthew did not get this encounter or Nicodemus get this encounter? The simple answer is that Mary was there. Mary showed up. Mary was there to experience it. The same Resurrection power, the same angelic power, the same Holy Ghost power, the same miraculous, history-altering, eternity-rattling power would have been unleashed whether someone was there to observe it or not. Mary got to experience it and got to be the first commissioned preacher of the gospel in history, because Mary showed up, in the midst of her disappointment, in the midst of her being sick with this hope deferred, in the midst of this, this is not how I thought life was going to go.
This is not how even my mental model of what God looks like, I don't even have a bucket to put this in, but I'm going to show up. But I'm going to be there on Sunday morning to worship. And the other gospel accounts tell us, because there are four gospels, and they all give little details the other ones don't. And one of the other gospel accounts tells us she's there with spices in her hands to continue to lavish expensive, extravagant worship upon her Savior. And that's why she was there at this moment. She didn't know how the stone was going to get rolled away, but that didn't stop her from coming. She had more questions than she had answers. But in her questioning, in her confusion, in her doubt, even in the skepticism that she probably felt in her mind that, rationally, this didn't even make sense, because Jesus is dead, so why would you even be here any more, party's over, honey, every bit of that and more would have been inside her head. But she showed up to worship. She showed up at the tomb of her Savior, and so can you. And when you do, when you bring your questions, when you bring your pain, when you bring it to the only one who can do anything about it, you will not necessarily find him there to give you answers, but as I said, ask you the right questions.
Now, let's just talk about disappointment for a moment. If we were to do an autopsy on disappointment and we were to do a forensic analysis of disappointment, I think we would, at its root, find that it springs forth from faulty assumptions. There's a lot of false assumptions in this text, like when she assumes that the body's been stolen. And that only leads to further disappointment. She was already disappointed when Jesus got killed, but now she's got a new thing to worry about. Now she's got a new disappointment. She's got a new version of the future that has now been disrupted, because she saw the rest of her life, she would have this grave to come to, and that's what she had accepted as her lot in life. I'm going to get to come here and worship Jesus, and come here and thank God at this shrine, and now that was taken away. And so she's experiencing, notice, unnecessary disappointment based on inaccurate information. And I think that you and I oftentimes do the same.
So we must always address the false assumptions within our disappointment that they stand upon, that they receive power from. So for example, we're, at times, disappointed by God's will, but we haven't stopped to ask the question, was what I was hoping for actually God's will? Or was it my own wishful thinking, or was it my own hoping? Or perhaps we also must ask this question, is my disappointment merely an issue of me having a false assumption about God's timing? I wrote this down, that just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't happen yet. I think about the disappointment in John chapter 11, when the sisters, Mary and Martha, wanted Jesus to come heal their brother of his sickness and Jesus, it says, because He loved them, did not come. That's weird. I'm just going to say it the obvious, because you all sat there looking like that's totally normal thing. The text says, they urgently said, please come. Our brother, who You love, is sick. And it says, Jesus did love him, so He didn't go at all. He left them on red. Y'all, He did not even tell them, I'll be there in a few. He just stayed where he was and acted like they didn't matter to Him.
Now, Jesus would, in fact, eventually heal Lazarus not only of the sickness that afflicted him, but of the death that came as a result of the sickness. So he would say no to what they ask for to do something they wouldn't even have the faith to think for, even have the hope or imagination to dream up. Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead. So at times, our false assumptions, now, they easily could have left the church mad. Jesus didn't love us. Jesus wasn't there for us when we really needed Him. Jesus wasn't there. He didn't actually care. He said He cared, but He actually really didn't care. They could have built on their false assumption a castle of their disappointment. But Jesus came doing the same thing, asking questions. Jesus came doing the same thing, provoking them to see Him as bigger than the category that they had put him in their mind as well, which, no doubt, we all are guilty of.
So we are bad at predicting the future. We at times base our rage at God on false assumptions or misunderstanding God's timing. But there's another elephant in the room we must address, when it comes to our disappointment, and that is to say that human disappointment is not merely something that is experienced when something you want doesn't happen. It is also something common to all of us that we experience when we get exactly what we wanted, but it didn't do for us what we needed. It's been said that there are two sources to human unhappiness, A, not getting what you want, and B, getting what you want. Some of us have built up what we're going to feel like when we drive that new car.
Some of us have built up and over hyped up what it's going to do for us to get that new home. Or if we can get the career going to at this level, or the company up to this size, or the church up to this level of prominence, if we can, I'm going to move away, because that was convicting me, if we can be this well-known, if we can be this well-loved, if we can be with a person who's this hot, if we, if our kids can perform this well or get into the school, all of us have felt and experienced at times what, ultimately, if we could step back from it and look at it at a different angle, we would see it's this, us putting more happiness on things than they can possibly deliver. And in those moments, with almost a sickening realization, what dawns on you is idolatry is not merely something that people did way back when they bow down to shrines. Because we smirk at that when reading the Bible. Oh, Jacob and Laban with their gods, how positively primitive. What's that? Just unlocked my BMW I couldn't afford, but it's what, to me, tells me I mean something to the world.
You see, the reality is all of us at times take what we hope will be something that gives us identity, something that will answer the most basic fundamental question we all wrestle with. And it's this, am I enough? A lot of us, because of the pain we've experienced, difficult things we've gone through, and words that were lies that were spoken over us, have arrived at the inaccurate conclusion, the false assumption that we are not enough. So we must do something, wear something, be something, be something, crush something, accomplish something. And we are hoping, if I do that, and some of our most horrific mistakes were done as a result of us trying to earn something that we didn't ever need to, because we already had it, because God can never love you more and never love you less. And that is the only thing you can anchor your identity on that will not disappoint you when you need it to deliver the most, because even if you do achieve some success materially, or at work, or commercially, or athletically, or scholastically, now what?
Whatever originally gave you validation is going to have to keep drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, delivering. It's going to have to keep doing that, or you will no longer have that affirmation. You will no longer have that atta boy. So if it came from your looks, if it came from your ability, what if, when you're old? What if when your body can't deliver those same things? Now what? You put your worth on this. We've all felt it. I just thought I'd be happier. I'm here where I want it to be, and the target, what did it do? It just moved. So now I see it over there. And we can, and many do, and all of us have felt it, experienced that sense of chasing the wind. Ecclesiastes calls it trying to grab oil in your hand. It just slips through. It's not to be found on this planet. And that, at times, can be very, very disappointing. And of course, at this point, we can get jaded, and prematurely concede defeat, and just throw up our hands and say, well, there's no point in even trying.
Now, Mary didn't do any of those things. Mary, she's disappointed. She's still showing up. Yes, there's some false assumptions and we'll have to see those things corrected, and she does. But Mary does so well and Mary does so magnanimously that we must ask the question, what gave Mary the power to look up in the midst of her great disappointments? And I noticed three things as I read the whole totality of Scripture on the life of Mary Magdalene. The first is generosity, the second is community, and the third is intensity. Mary, her story showcases these things in great supply, in great abundance. And so when we look at her on the worst day of her life and we try and pull out things that can help us, here's the cool thing, you don't ever need to experience the same exact storm she did to receive the power from the smart things she did.
That's what's amazing about it, because again, some of us hesitate to even pray to God for that offer we're about to put it on the house, or we feel like we shouldn't trust God with the dream of that company we want to start. But if we can get it sorted out to where it's not an idol that's going to give us our identity, but something that's just merely a dream that we want to honor God with as we live on this Earth, and if our worth comes from Him, then listen to me, if it matters to you, it matters to Him. I would just encourage you to see that no disappointment is too small. You shouldn't ever feel bad for being disappointed. You should never feel bad for wanting something. And if you had that dream, I believe, I dare you to believe it's God-given. And in His timing, if it's from Him, it will come to pass. And it will be sweet, precisely because you are not going to look to it to do more for you than it possibly can.
So what do you do to get to a place where, whatever you experience, you continue to look up and hope? In the midst of your pain and disappointment, you foster what Mary did, generosity, community, intensity. Let's pick these through just really quickly. Luke chapter 8, I see both the first and the second addressed very clearly, when it says in verse 1, "Now it came to pass", now, this is years back. Jesus is just beginning His ministry. "It came to pass afterward that He, Jesus, went through every city and every village preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God". Now, that's good, right? True or false, that's a good thing. Jesus is preaching. People all over the place are getting saved. And notice, it says city, every city, and village, villages. It wasn't like He just went to one place and stayed there forever. There was always the sense of, I need to go to the other cities, I need to go to the other villages. We tend to, once something gets good, want to just keep it there. But our desire should be to spread it out.
That's why I'm always telling you, invite someone to church. Bring someone with you, because most people, studies show, if invited by a friend, are going to be willing to try it based on your friendship alone. So Jesus is always growing, always seeking to get more people there, and so we. We should have the mentality, church, I'm going to continue to advocate for this forever, to the other cities we must go. To the other villages we must go. There are more people that need to hear. We can't get saved and get complacent, and get the Holy Spirit and then get selfish, and think that's enough. There always must be this mentality, as we go to work, as we do our lives, to say, God, who do you want me to reach? Who do you want me to bring in to create more space at the table? Y'all know, every fall, we come around the idea of expansion. Every fall, we come around this idea of, what can we do that's not being done? How can we make this get louder? How can we get the story to more people who are hungry, and hurting, and broken?
And so we must always. Jesus did that, not my sermon, but it's in the Bible. And the 12 were with him, which is a great little detail to show that Jesus got all the attention, because He was preaching, but the 12 were helping. It takes a lot of people to get the gospel to a lot of places. But that's not all, because that's where we tend to focus. And if you go to a stained glass presentation, you'll see Jesus and the 12 disciples, but don't forget, there's more, "and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons; and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward". And Susanna was there. What is this? Community, what is this? A small group, what is this people? Who have been through some stuff, and they regularly hung out together, why did I have you circle the word we? Because on Resurrection Sunday, Mary had her posse there. Mary had her girlfriends there. She's almost always, when she's given in Scripture, her name, Mary Magdalene, included in a list of names of these other people she was disciplining and being discipled by, so she could have people to talk about her disappointments to, and point to Jesus in the midst of her pain.
Why would you suffer alone? Why would you try and follow Jesus in this world alone? Groups are so important. Discipleship is so important. So that's community. And then, notice, they and many others provided for Him, Jesus, from their substance. This is generosity. What would you do if you were healed of seven demons? What would you do if God did a great work in your life? If you're like Mary, you would spend your whole life saying, I want to pay that back. I want to pay that forward. If He can do that for me, I want to see him do that for you. And we know that Mary, as she's called, the Magdalene, was very successful. Magdala was a very affluent, posh, uptown city, and she is so known for the city's worth and wealth that she's literally just called the Magdalene. It wasn't her last name. It was the fact that she's identified as the prominent leading citizen of this wealthy affluent city.
So she had a lot so she could do a lot. And she and all these others, the wife of Herod's steward and Susanna, they all said, man, Jesus has done something great in our lives, and so we're going to generously support it. Here's the tricky thing, she didn't even know then that she was preparing for disappointment when she did that, because as your treasure goes, your heart goes. So how does Mary have a heart for the kingdom in the midst of great pain? Hi, you can buy that. You can literally put your treasure into Jesus's hands and find your heart sustained.
Every time I talk to a couple who's going through great grief, I always tell them, it doesn't sound like it would make sense, but giving is one of the most potent ways I know to navigate your way through a great grief or great loss, because I can't buy my daughter birthday presents who's in heaven. It's a muscle I can't flex this Christmas to purchase something for her to be under the tree. But when I put treasure in God's hand, I'm doing something that lights up those in heaven. And Mary, she handles disappointment so well, I believe, in large part, because of the way her generosity had prepared her for it. And then thirdly, intensity, Mary was an intense girl. When she confronts the gardener in the garden, she says, where's Jesus at? Tell me. Did you move Him? I'm going to get Him, bring Him back here.
Now, the Jews wrapped up the dead body in 50% of the body's weight in total spices and wrapping paper, OK? Let's say Jesus weighed 150 pounds. We're talking about a 225-pound mummy. She's like, where's he at? I'm going to get Him. Dude, what, are you going to back squat him? You know what, I believe you will, Mary, all right? Mama bear adrenalized, something. She almost beats the heck out of Jesus to get Jesus, intensity. She was last at the cross. She was the first at the tomb. There was some intensity to her. There was a zeal to her. And you can have that too. Hope is a muscle that you can build. Faith is an attribute that you can strengthen over time. You are not stuck at the level you're at. You can be as on fire for God as you want. Now, we started with a question, and the question is, where does disappointment grow best? That was a title for the message. Where does disappointment grow best? And I think, to answer the question, we need a little illustration.
Let's say I wanted to plant tulips. If I wanted to plant tulips, what I would need to do is to get a base layer of some soil in my pot. It's potting soil. That's what it does best. And then, of course, I would take my tulip bulb and I would stick it, probably right around this time, even in the fall, because tulips take 16 weeks to come out, can you believe that? They only bloom for three to seven days, but they got to be in there for up to 16 weeks. And what I would do is then I would shove more potting soil on top of it. Then I would get some fertilizer, AKA, crap, and I pour that on top. That's probably too much. Don't judge my gardening. That's not my thing. And then I would water it, and basically forget about it, and it would sit there, the frozen earth. It would sit there forgotten. And then, and only then, could I receive, thank you. Then, and only then, could I receive a tulip.
So where does disappointment grow best? In the same place your greatest growth can come from, and wherever you are tempted to give in to your disappointment, to be defined by your disappointment, that is also the same location where, if you don't believe the lies being spoken over you and of your situation, you can see your greatest growth and your biggest disappointment all come from the same place, the place where you feel buried, the place where you feel forgotten, the place where you feel like crap Is just being thrown on top of you, no matter what. And you're tempted to think, well, how much crap can be thrown on me? How much dirt can be dumped on top of me? If I'm this bulb, I'm thinking, oh, this is lovely. Oh, you're just going to put me out there? Oh, you're going to throw one on top of me? Oh, you're going to leave me out there all winter long? But only by enduring the location of your greatest disappointment can you experience the great growth that Jesus has for you, is in the same place that Mary experienced the greatest miracle, the greatest commissioning, the greatest realization, the greatest revelation, the greatest soul transformation.
And this is considerable, considering she had been healed from seven demons. That's just how her story begins. Here on this day, disappointed, and weeping, and sick, as she, in the midst of what could has been informative for bitterness and what could have been a place where she became a victim forever, but instead, she chose to persevere and encounter God in the midst of that soil, in the midst of that fertilizer, and she grew forth. Hope deferred, we read, makes the heart sick. But when it comes, it is the tree of life. Mary stood at the foot of the cross, the last person there. She thought it was a tree of death. She had no idea it was a tree of life. That tells us that we have to be looking at the right seed packet. You see, we will always mistake what we have when something starts to come out of the ground. Why did Mary think that Jesus was a gardener? She got what she wanted, but didn't realize it, because it didn't look like she expected, supposing he was a gardener.
Now, part of me wants to preach this sermon this way, she was actually right. Doesn't Genesis chapter 2, verse 8 say the Lord God planted a garden? Jesus is a gardener, only here's the plot twist of all plot twists. The same way that He is a shepherd, but came and died as a sheep, Jesus is a gardener, but He came to this world as a seed. And in John's gospel, the 12th chapter, the 24th verse, He said, most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat goes into the ground, and is buried, and forgotten, and dies, it will never bring forth any fruit. But if it dies, it can produce a great abundant harvest. Jesus is the gardener, but plot twist, He's also the seed. But Mary didn't recognize Him, supposing He was a gardener. Why? Because she was looking for a bulb, but he was now a tree. She was looking for the version of what Jesus was that went into the ground, but He wasn't that version anymore. He had come out of the ground.
1 Corinthians chapter 15 explains what I'm talking about, when Paul, and Jennie, remember when we read this on the way to the funeral home? Hardest day of our life, and this was the text that gave us a lift. "And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be", no one plants tulips to get tulips. You plant a seed, you plant a bulb to get a tulip. You plant mere grain, maybe wheat or whatever else. But then, in verse 42, "So it also is with the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption. It is raised in corruption. It is sown in dishonor. It is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness". Come on, church. This is our power. This is our joy. It is raised in power.
Your greatest disappointment is also where you have your greatest potential growth. But we experience unnecessary heartache when we walk around in this world looking for bulbs, when God wants us to believe for the bloom, to believe for the flowers. And I think the reason a lot of us mistake the miracle that's potentially available to us at all times is because we're staring at the wrong seed packet. When the bulb gets buried, what are the seed packets that you're staring at, hoping for, fantasizing about? News flash, this is not the seed packet I'm talking about. And this endless scroll is not the seed packet I'm talking about. That stuff's got to die. That stuff's the bulb. I'm telling you, it is the seed of the word of God. This is the seed packet. This is what we got to be staring at. This is what we got to be focused on. We'll be thinking it's a gardener. We'll be thinking the grave's been robbed. We won't be looking at the flower. And the radiant flower, the inexpressible, inarticulable power of the Christian church is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And that is our future, and that is our hope, and that is our joy.
And so Jesus, we stare at the seed packet that is You risen with nail-scarred hands proving Your love, and in the midst of our heartache, in the midst of our feeling sick over what we're seeing and how it's not lining up with what we thought, I pray You would help us to see and to believe that You are much more focused on what we need than what we want. So we simply say, as You demonstrated, Jesus, when You were kneeling in that garden, and You said, not my will, but Yours be done, God, I confess I don't understand, we confess we don't understand, why you've done certain things certain ways, why you've allowed certain bad things to happen, why some sicknesses don't get healed, why some people we love are no longer here. But we don't need to understand. We need to believe. We need to trust. We need to hold on to hope. So we say, not my will, may Yours be done. I pray this blessing over your people, especially those who are locked up by disappointment today. And the fact that I'm describing, you could, in this prayer, with privacy, raise your hand up to let God know that's you. You're saying today, I'm disappointed, God. I don't know what to do, but I'm going to bring my disappointment to You.
Raise your hand up. All across the church, church online, some disappointed people are saying:
God, I look to you in my disappointment. I'm not going to stare at the bulb. I'm going to focus on the flower. I'm going to believe that your Word is going to come to pass, and I stand on that, not my feelings and not my circumstances. May Your Spirit fill each and every person to overflowing in their disappointment, as they would see and believe it is the chance for their greatest growth.
You can put your hands down. I want to invite now anybody who's come to church this week or watching online, listening after the fact, and you've never yet given your heart to Jesus, God wants to come into your soul and save you. He wants to make you new, forgiving you of your sins, giving you the promise of heaven. If you're here today and you've never invited Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, or you've grown up knowing about God and today's your day to rededicate your life to Him, I'm going to invite you into a prayer. I'm going to pray a prayer one phrase at a time, and I want you to see this as your prayer to God, your way of giving your heart to him. He will hear you. He will heal you. I can tell you, I made this decision as a freshman in high school. It's the best decision I've ever made. And I stand here today as an overflow of that moment so many years ago in New Mexico. So pray this prayer to God church. Pray with us:
Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I can't fix myself. But I believe you can. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. Thank you for His resurrection from the dead. I turn from my sins. I turn to you in faith. I invite you to be my friend, my Savior, my Lord. Thank You for new life. I give you mine. In Jesus's name.