I was watching Ed Sheeran play a live show on Palladia the other night. I love Ed Sheeran because he’s a great songwriter and musician for sure, but it’s more than that.
Ed Sheeran is not a kook or a phony.
He is clearly a man doing what he was born to do, and while his talent is deep and native, you can tell he’s done the work too: Digging in the garden where his talents lie until something authentic and pure grows.
That’s why, when he plays, there’s no construct, just a guy on stage with his hands in his pockets saying: “Yah, I got something you’ve never heard, so I’m going to turn it up.”
I love people like that. I follow them around because I don’t care if you’re playing music or preaching the word, I want to see it stripped down. I want to know what you got, you got straight from the well.
At this exact time last year, I was a week out from the arrival of a big new school, and just plowing through piles at work. It felt like the day after a blizzard when even the bulldozer struggles to keep up. I was tired and discouraged, but as I do, I just pushed harder. Maybe you know this feeling. Here’s how it looks:
Later that day, I opened my bible looking for the scripture about youths not growing weary and rising up like eagles, but as often happens, I arrived at the “wrong” place in Isaiah. I went to Isaiah 41, not 40. Here, the Prophet is speaking for God to Israel, the children of Abraham:
You are my servant,
I have chosen you and not cast you off;
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Just as I was ready to say, “OK, cool thanks God,” I very clearly heard him say, “Wait. Read it again. Now again, slower.” As I did I pictured the words in my head. The scripture goes on to say:
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”
Wait. If you’re holding right hands with somebody, you’re basically shaking hello right? How else do you do it? If suddenly they fell down, could you hold them up? Not really. So if I’m a child of Abraham because I’ve been grafted in and God and I are holding right hands, like the scripture says, how is he upholding me?
And that’s when I saw it.
He’s standing behind me.
Possibly squatting, holding me like a child, with my right hand outstretched in his. He speaks softly, because his lips are right next to my ear. He literally has my back, with his left arm around me, holding me with the strength of his whole body. In this posture, I can be a sharp, threshing instrument, and a fearless crusher of mountains. Read the whole thing, it’s amazing.
See friends, this is what happens at the well.
Nobody gave me that image, I didn’t read it in somebody’s book. It was an unexpected but very precise disclosure that came when I sat at the well and waited for it. And I trust it, because in the past year, I’ve shared it at least a dozen times. Every time, somebody says: “Yes! I get it,” in the same way you can listen to Ed Sheeran play and say, “Yes, I get that, it’s authentic, it’s true.”
To me, it also proves what my pastor friend Daniel has been saying for months.
The degree to which you abide in Jesus, is the degree of authority you will have in him.
That, my friends, means time at the well. Talking. Listening. Rereading his words, slowly, with focus and intention – even when you want to jump up and push snow.