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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bryant

Mark 4:21-25: So Many Things Are Known Only to Christ

21 And he said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?22 For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”24 And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.25 For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Something you lose when you've been a street pastor for any bit of time, is the idea that problems can be solved and situations can be managed. These are often not situations that can be fixed or managed, and certainly not by you. There is so much that is not available to scrutiny. They are situations of such complexity, of such layered pain and serious peril that you realize there is much that simply is not yours to know.

The people I meet are uninterpretable, such a mixture of pain and promise, of prophetic witness and self deception. It is not easy to know why people do the things they do.

It is also hard to know where to insert yourself into the noise of the street. When to speak, when to listen, when to advocate and when to let things. I realize often there may not be something such as “What to say,” or “What to do”

It has to taken me a while to settle into the role, I am still in many ways unsettled. At the open hours at our church, there is no way to predict what will happen. People come in and out and with them a mysterious and intricate personal history that is simply not available to me. There is always something that could be attended to, something else that could be asked, something that has shifted while I've had my attention elsewhere.

Not knowing what is going on with them reminds me I often don't know what's going on with me, and whether I'm seeing things right. Why I respond strongly to some things and others not, why I worry about things I shouldn't and am careless about things that should be given my vigilance. I spend a lot of time wondering whether I'm too accommodating, when and where to make my stands.

If there is one thing that has hurt me in my ministry it has been my own desire to know for sure.

We do know know situations and, often, we do not know ourselves. So many things are known only to Christ.

And yet in the midst of a baffling wilderness, we carry this hope, that we serve a Christ who reveals us. Who will reveal us as he is revealed in us. Who will reveal the tangle of ours lives as he is revealed in them. And who has not asked us to bear the burden of knowing, the burden of having to be sure, but the burden of trust, the burden of prayer.

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