Last week Debbie and I took a 5 Day Sabbatical to Fort Morgan Beach near Gulf Shores, Alabama. We needed some time away in order to refocus and re-energize our spiritual batteries. We needed some time to reconnect to ourselves, each other and of course, with The Father. And this certainly qualifies this as a Sabbatical. Some of you are thinking, “That sounds like a vacation, not a Sabbatical. As a pastor you only work a couple of hours a week. Why do you need a vacation?” If you are one of those who think that being a pastor is easy and only requires a couple of hours a week, I want to say to you, “Bless your heart. I can remember the time when I, too, was oblivious to the real world.” I think it lasted from birth until I was about 5 years old. Bless your pea-picking heart if you still are oblivious to the real world. (If you’re not from the South, you may not know what “bless your heart” can mean–so check out this definition)
While on our short Sabbatical we spent most of the day on the sugary white beach feeling the breeze, the warm sun on our faces, the sound of the waves as they reached this beautiful beach. We saw wonderful sunrises and sunsets and the night sky full of stars and even a full moon. We also are card carrying members of the International Society of People Watchers. So some of this Sabbatical was spent watching people.
We watched 3 twenty-somethings walking along the water’s edge with their heads locked into their Smartphones as they walked. We heard another man talking business on his Smartphone while sitting in his beach chair. We saw a group talking about their problems and issues while their feet were in that sugary white sand. Personally I prefer the term “cell” phone because many people are a prisoner to that phone. One nap was interrupted by a child screaming and crying while their mother tried to reason with that child, threatening a time out. When the child only screamed louder she offer to let the child back into the water if he would quit screaming and apologized to her and his grandmother. I was thinking that SHE needed to be sent back to her room until she decided she wanted to be a parent.
In this act of watching people, I had one of Jeremiah’s moments. Allow me to explain. It seems to me that Jeremiah was struggling one day to come up with a message God wanted to share. Perhaps after several hours of failure to find the right words, Jeremiah heard a suggestion from God. “Hey Jere, go down to the potter’s store and just watch him for a while. You will find what I want to say down there.” He did and from that watching, it came to Jeremiah what God wanted to him to share with the people that God loved so dearly. It’s from Jeremiah 18 but I only want to lift up for your consideration the first 5 verses.
1 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.
5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”
Jeremiah learned something about God while watching the potter at work in his shop. And here is what God taught me in this Sabbatical to the beach. Do you ever wonder why it is that when a child does something for the first time, or makes something they will say, “Hey! Watch me! Look at this! Come see what I’ve done!”? There is an excitement on their face and in their voice. Where does that come from? I believe it comes from The Creator, our Heavenly Father. They are reflecting what I have seen from God. On that beach, as in so many other places, God is saying, “Hey, look at this! Look at what I’ve done! Watch me!” I see God with that same sense of excitement as that little child showing off their latest drawing. He wants us, longs for us to see His handiwork. And when a child is ignored, you can see the hurt in their eyes. And when God is ignored when He is showing off His handiwork, He, too, has hurt in His eyes and His heart.
And what Monday Morning Attitude am I addressing today? It’s the attitude and mindset where we are completely oblivious to what God wants to say to us. Right smack dab in the middle of this portion of God’s beautiful creation, so many–too many–were missing out on what God was offering them on that sugary white sandy beach. He’s offering us rest from the “stuff” that happens which robs us of the joy that God wants us to experience in this life.
When this life is lived as God intends, it becomes dress rehearsals and glimpses of a much better life later. Unfortunately, many are so locked into the present life or some long way off future life, they miss the wonder and grandeur of what God is offering us here a now. So the next time a child runs up to you and says, “Hey, come see what I’ve done”, remember they are a perfect mirror of our Heavenly Father. He has so many things to show you. Get your head out of your little world and take the time to look around and see with marvel and amazement, how creative and loving our Father truly is. Our toes buried in the sand, our ears filled with the sounds of the waves, the blue waters and bright sky have renewed us and refreshed us. Thanks, Papa, for showing off some of your best work.
When we take the time to enjoy God’s presence and his handiwork AND for a short season forget about the stuff that happens, then we can say, “Good! Lord it’s Monday! What shall we do together?” Let’s pray:
Father, please forgive me for the times I haven’t really seen what that little child had done. I am so sorry for the times I told that little child, “After a little bit. Let me finish this first. I don’t have time.” That little child was perfectly reflecting you, and I missed it. Help me hear and see the future moments when just like that child you say, “Hey! Come here and see what I did!” Help me remember that you are even more excited than that child to show what you do. Amen and Amen!
This Week’s Challenge: See if you can find your own “go to the Potter’s house” experience, a place or situation where God has a message for you!