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Eeyore, Tigger, and Mark as the March Hare

February 20, 2015

Texts and emails, twitter, Facebook, instant message and all the rest, they’re all are great things. They allow us to communicate simple messages almost instantly to people anywhere in the world. Instant communication has its faults but there is nothing like instant communication when you’re excited. To see successful students texting and phoning friends and family with their results is a real joy. From people who live alone I’ve heard that the biggest sadness is not, as I would have expected, not having someone there to tell problems to when they get home, no, it’s not having someone to spin you round with excitement when something great has happened. Instant, is great for joy and excitement, sadness can usually take its time.

Mark’s Gospel is the email or text gospel. It is short, curt even, and you’re left to fill in the blanks. Matthew and John add lots of colour and texture but Mark is short and sharp. Matthew loves to tell stories where Mark seems to fire out events and sayings like bullets.

Just look at Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Mark says, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1.12-13 – 2 short verses. Matthew takes his time over 25 verses to paint the same story.

Mark is also breathless in the way he tells the story of Jesus, “At once” or “Straight away” are favourite phrases. I read Matthew for the detail. But I read Mark to get the real sense of urgency about Jesus’ mission. There is a breathless urgency about Mark’s writing. I can almost smell the excitement:

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ (Mark 1.9-11)

The Heaven’s are torn apart! But there’s no time to stop – Mark rushes on:

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. (Mark 1.12-13)

Jesus meets Satan and wild animals and angels serve him – I want to know more. But Mark grabs my hand – “No Time for that, there’s so much more to show you”, and Mark rushes on again:

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1.14-15)

Heaven torn apart – Satan brushed aside, wild animals and angels, then I hear “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near.”

My head’s spinning, there’s so much to take in, so I let go of Mark’s hand to think a little before rushing on. I can almost see Mark, impatient, hopping from foot to foot, sparking with excitement. I never thought of Mark as the March Hare before, but now I look the resemblance is startling.

Mark’s Gospel may miss out so much wonderful detail, so many amazing facts, but he has just what I need right now. Mark is just what the doctor ordered! After all the miserable weather, the rain and the cold I’ve been feeling a little, well, jaded. I know Christ, I feel the Spirit in me, I know I’m loved, but the grey leaches away some of the excitement.

If you know the Winnie the Pooh books by AA Milne, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that my wife, Viv, tends to think of me as a ‘Tigger’, bouncing up the stairs to hug people. But recently I’ve been feeling more like Eeyore.

So there was me pottering along in the stream of the Spirit, when I open the Bible, turn to Mark 1 and I’m hit with a tidal wave of excitement. I may not be sure which way is up but wow does it feel good. I’m buzzing with the Gospel, grinning from ear to ear with excitement, the Spirit has hit and it is better than any roller coaster!

Then there’s a voice inside, ‘It’s Lent, should you be so happy and excited in Lent?! Lent is a serious sober time’. Part of me just wants to shrug my shoulders and say, ‘Whatever’. But, still buzzing I turn back to Mark 1. I read ‘temptation’, ‘wilderness’ and ‘repentance’. All serious words but I realise that I’m still being called to be excited about this Gospel, this Good News.

I spin back to ‘temptation’ and find that in Jesus I have all I need to overcome them. Indeed, each time I’m tempted Jesus can show me more about myself and the Spirit can work with me to make me whole.

I jump over to ‘wilderness’ and I know that I need to book a time away on retreat. Time to be quiet and pray. In the greyness I just couldn’t get round to it, but now I know I must.

I skip back to ‘repentance’ and see the wonder of the Christian life. I am far from perfect, I do things wrong but that doesn’t have to be me forever! I have a loving Father who through Jesus forgives me, and forgives me, and forgives me some more. Each time I’m shown a fault and say ‘sorry’, I’m forgiven and the Spirit can work to heal me a little more. The Spirit gives me a little more of Himself to make me stronger against temptations to come. But when I fall again, toddler that I am, then I’m lifted up into loving arms and off we go again.

I know that excitement isn’t everything. There are times and seasons for a whole rang of emotions to be right in God. But at the start of this Lent I am being shown that I need to rediscover my excitement in God. To feel joy of knowing Jesus. To be blown off my feet by the Spirit. To give myself whole heartedly to my heavenly Father.

I hear, “The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near.” Then Mark grabs my arm and we’re off…


From → Martial Thoughts

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