For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.
1 Corinthians 4:20 (ESV)
The church needed a new fax machine. An email thread was circulating among various church leaders. A deacon wrote the specifications of the machine. The information technology person wrote that it was in stock at the store. Someone else said that we need to hurry up if we are going to buy it because that model doesn’t stay around long. Then the associate pastor reminded the group that if we hurry we can catch the treasurer before she goes home for the day. Someone else asked about the return policy on the machine. Then someone else asked how the church could ensure only proper use of the machine. The emails went on for a few more minutes. A lot of typing was happening, but no one was buying the machine.
Wade In The Water
Wade In The Water, Children
Wade In The Water
God’s Gonna Trouble The Water
But this spiritual comes in with a little predictability in a world that cannot be predicted. The singer encourages us to go down into the water. Go down into the water because God is going to trouble the water. God is going to make God’s presence known in that water.
Bible students know that this spiritual is using imagery of the crippled man who was trying to get into the water when it was troubled. (John 5:7). The Bible story provides us with some interesting things for contemplation. First, the Spiritual is based in the rumor that something divine comes to this pool. You know when you are at your wits end, all you can do is place yourself where God has shown up in the past. The singer of the Spiritual encourages us to go down to where we heard God has shown up in the past. We have heard of healing happening there. We have heard people getting blessed there, so go show up there to get the blessing that God has for you.
Another interesting point is that in the Bible story the healing came to the one who was first in the water when the shaking of the water happened. The singer doesn’t want to wait until the troubling happens before jumping in the water. The singer wants you to “camp out” in the water. The singer wants you to be there before the troubling happens so that you can fully experience that “troubling of the water.”
Today in this unpredictable world, the singer of this Spiritual tells us to go where we know that God has worked in the past and then wait for the troubling. And ultimately the singer is sure that God is not only gonna show up, but God is gonna “trouble the water.”
I got Shoes, You Got Shoes
All God’s Children Got Shoes
When I get To Heaven, Gonna Put on My Shoes
Gonna Walk, All Over God’s Heaven
This singer simply looks pass this present reality to a different one. You see in the present reality I don’t have shoes. In this present moment, I don’t have a robe. In fact in this present reality, I don’t have all the things that I need to survive. But in God’s ultimate reality, the singer has them. No, the slave master does not have the last word. God has the last word.
One thing I like about this spiritual is that the singer is talking about a present parallel reality. The slave is saying “The slave master says I can’t have shoes, but I have shoes today.” Not only do I have shoes, but the other slaves have shoes. Feet look as bare as they did before they decided to sing, but they continued “All God’s children Got shoes.” The shoes are a present possession in God’s ultimate reality.
While the shoes are a present possession in God’s ultimate reality, the slave will nto be able to use them until the future for they sang “when I get to heaven I am gonna put on my shoes and walk over God’s heaven.” The slave is celebrating the fact that presently I have the shoes but in the future I will use those shoes to walk over God’s heaven.
Today, many of us do not have the things that we should have. Some of us are even missing meals. Some of us do not have a good enough prescription drug plan to pay for all of our pills. Some of us cannot even afford the coat or shoes that are needed to get through the winter safe and healthy. But the promise of God is that God has gone to prepare a place. The promise of God is that he will come again to receive his own. The promise of God is one day we will no longer have to want for the necessities of life.
This reality changes our lives in such a way that we can celebrate God’s future. This reality changes things such that we can continue “Marching to Zion.” This present reality shapes and forms us as we live even today for we know that for the child of God, our needs and wants are fully realized in God’s promised future.
The singer finds herself in the midst of trouble. This is not just regular troubles. No, this is troubles of every kind. Many of us can identify with the singer.
When our hot water heater goes out at just the wrong time, we have troubles of every kind. When our only reliable transportation has difficulties, we have troubles of every kind. When our children fail to live up to the principles we tried to instill in them, we have troubles of every kind.
Nobody Knows The Trouble I See
Nobody Knows but Jesus
Nobody Knows the Trouble I See
We are all in trouble in this world. And this trouble is greater than others can see. People look at us and see good and bad things happening to us from the outside. The Bible says that Humanity looks on the outward appearance. (1 Samuele 16:7) All we can see is what is going on on the outside. So we look and we see that you are going through something.
But the singer says that what you see ain’t all there is. No there is even a greater trouble than you see. You ain’t seen how bad it really is for the singer. No, the singer is in the midst of a terrible circumstance and not only that there is nobody who understands. There is nobody who feels. There is nobody who can even see it!
But then The singer either has a revelation or was holding back some pertinent information for Nobody knows it BUT JESUS. Yes there is one who sits high and looks low. There is one who sees everything. There is one who knows even the full extent of our troubles.
Then after that revelation, the singer says “glory hallelujah”. The singer doens’t tell us here exactly why this is something to celebrate. Perhaps the singer remembers the scripture that tells us that Jesus is able to help us becuase he suffered (being tempted) in this wretched earth and lived where we live. (Hebrews 2:18)
Perhaps the singer begins celebrating becuase there is power in someone simply knowing what the singer has to go through. Maybe the singer uplifts praise to the most high becuase God is there and will not allow my pain to go unheard. God will listen to us when we pray. Maybe the singer uplifts praise becuase God will overturn the pain into good for the Bible tells us that weaping only has a short duration and Joy will come in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
I don’t know, but one thing I do know, we can be sure God is with us. We can be sure that Jesus cares. And we can be sure that “There is a balm in Gilead that heals the sin sick soul.” In Jesus, Our pain is overcome. And yes, in Jesus our pain is heard.
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the reality that you are with us in our pain. We acknowledge that you hear us and even when we can’t see the other side of the storm, we thank you for leading the ship through the treacherous waters to the sunlight of a limitless future.