“Dad Talk” by Pastor Andrew Malek
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
- John 4: 27-38 NIV
Often times when our parents or authority figures try to give us advice or speak wisdom into our lives, we ignore or reject it. However, we often find, later on in life, that the advice they gave us was right. But in the moment, we thought we knew better and chose not to follow it. We see the same thing happen with Jesus and the disciples. Jesus has a “Dad Talk” with his disciples to try to explain some things to them about how to receive all that God has for them. Here is what we can learn from the words of wisdom that Jesus gave his disciples.
1. Focus on directions more than destinations.
It can be easy to get focused on the destination and miss the directions. Whether it’s career aspirations, or otherwise, we often want to get to the destination as quickly as possible. We get so destination-focused, that we don’t actually concern ourselves with learning about the directions needed to get there. We think we know the way to our destination, and so we start to ignore the directions that we’ve been given. In Proverbs 16:9, we learn that God is the one who orders our steps.
Destinations are often dreams that God has placed in our hearts; destinations matter. But we might be missing something when we value destinations over directions, when we don’t value the detour. The disciples saw Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman, but did not ask any questions--this is because they placed no value on that woman. When they saw a direction that Jesus was taking them in, and they didn’t really like it, they just tossed it aside. How many times have we missed what God had for us because we didn’t like the directions? Often times the detour is for our own protection. Sometimes the direction is because God wants to bring someone into our life to open a door that we can’t open on our own. Maybe God is taking you in that direction because you hold the key to a door that someone doesn’t even know exists. The direction wasn’t about the disciples; it was about the Samaritan woman.
2. Focus on fulfillment more than flavor.
Things that taste good are often not good for you. In John 4, verse 35, Jesus says, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me.” If we focus too much on our will, on what we think tastes good, then we miss out on the fulfillment of doing what God has for us. The only thing that will fulfill us is doing the things that God has for us. When we eat the things that are good for us, our taste buds change.
3. Focus on him more than me.
On the journey between who I say I want to be and all that God has for me, I find that I’m the one who derails it the most. In John 4, Jesus says, “this one sows, that one harvests. I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you’ve harvested from a field you never worked.”
When we get to the place of realizing that every good gift in our life comes from God, that we haven’t earned anything, then we can honestly say, “Jesus, if you don’t do another thing in my life, you’ve done enough.”
Other people worked the ground that we are stepping into. Those who were faithful to the directions that God gave them are the reason that we can do the things that we do in our life. They’ve worked the field, and we’re just stepping in. We want to receive the invitation into all that God has for us, to work the field for others who will come after us.
The disciples were just like the Samaritan woman just moments ago. Jesus changed directions to pick them up. Destinations are not about positions; destinations are all about people.
If you think you’ve taken too many wrong turns already, it’s not too late. There’s someone in it with you. It’s never too late for you to accept the invitation into who God is and what he has for you. God can recalibrate your directions from where you are, even if you’ve taken many wrong turns. He will bring you alongside people who have made the same mistakes you have, just to encourage you. And he will walk with you to your destination.
What are the destinations that you may have been focusing on lately? How can you shift focus to God’s directions instead?
What are the “flavors” that you tend to avoid (i.e. challenges, correction, conflict, etc.), and how can you embrace God’s directions to find true fulfillment instead?
How has God used “detours” in your life to move you toward the right people in the past? Who do you see in your life now that may be a destination God has for you?