By Wellington Lee
A solemn reflection on years passed and years ahead, I am grateful for the past that has brought me to this day and grateful for the future that is determined by my past, my present and the grace of God.
I am an Engineer by training and have been used to planning and analyzing throughout my career life. “What’s next?” seems to be always a logical step while living in the “now” moment. But lately, I have started to appreciate the “now” more as my two kids are both attending college and the time needed to take care of their physical needs basically drops to near zero. This fresh taste of being temporary empty-nesters with Linda (my wife) also allows me more time to contemplate what I have learned from the Bible and reflect on the progress of my spiritual life since I became a Christian in high school. While preparing for Sunday School, it dawned on me that the lesson Jesus wanted to teach the disciples with the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes is the same as the immediate following miracle where Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm.
The Book of Mark (Chapter 6) vividly described that after the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus sent the disciples out on the boat (vs. 45) and into a storm. The disciples spent all night straining at the oars and made no headway against the strong wind, feeling frustrated although their lives not being threatened. Jesus did this to test them – to see if they had learned the lesson of the loaves. He then came to them walking on the water and intended to pass by them. They were given a difficult assignment – go to the other side of the lake – and they were going nowhere – would they call out to Him? Would they turn to Him and depend on Him to help them in the storm? No, instead of calling out to Him – they were terrified and thought He was a ghost. And when He climbed into the boat with them and the wind and the waves died down – they were astonished. They could not believe what had just happened. They were astonished that Jesus had authority over the wind and the waves.
And Mark tells us the reason they were astonished in vs. 52 of Mark 6 – he says they did not understand about the lesson from the loaves. The disciples had not understood what Jesus was trying to teach. But Mark also says something else – he says that their hearts were hardened. Imagine that the disciples had hardened hearts. The ones who had left everything to follow Jesus had hardened hearts. The ones who had been with Him and had seen His miraculous power firsthand had hardened hearts, just like the Pharisees (Mark 3:5).
Even though when we became Christians, our hearts were changed – our hearts of stone were replaced with hearts of flesh – to a new heart in regeneration; our hearts are not static but keep growing. They are either becoming softer day by day as we grow in grace and godliness and respond to God, or they can – even as believers – become hardened to God through sin and unbelief. There is a saying that the older you get, the more stubborn one tends to become. Yes, maybe stubborn in the way of doing things or thought patterns, hopefully this do not apply to the hearts of flesh. May God grant me wisdom and courage to grow my heart softer every day and more sensitive towards Christ’s teachings and the whisper of the Holy Spirit.