22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.
Matthew chapter 14, verses 22 and 23; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Sometimes you just gotta get away from it all; all of it! And this is exactly what me and Debbie are doing this week. We are at Pensacola Beach, Florida for the rest of the week. WHAT?????? With the mess our culture is in and the mess in the United Methodist Church, you’ve gone AWOL? Missing in Action? Yes, Virginia, I’m on vacation–but I’m not AWOL, nor am I missing in action. The Master gave me a week’s pass and I’m taking advantage of it!
Look carefully at today’s story. Jesus had been teaching all day. Fixed lunch for thousands of people. Taught some more. Then notice what He did. BEFORE He pronounced the benediction and sent the crowd back home, He MADE the disciple get in that boat! This tells me they didn’t want to leave. He MADE them get in it. I would imagine it was like trying to get first graders get in a straight line and be quiet. Difficult task to do. And I imagine that when He pushed that boat away from the shore, He breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, they’re gone! So He turns his attention back to the crowd. Pronounced the benediction, and sent them home.
Another sigh of relief! Now, take notice and pay careful attention to what Jesus does next! He gets away from EVERYTHING! In case you missed it, I’ll say it again: JESUS GOT AWAY FROM EVERYTHING! Just Him and Dad. No lesson plans to give to the disciples. No great messages for the crowds. No miracles. None of that! For a season, Jesus withdrew. Were there still things to do before His death? Absolutely! Were there miracles still to be performed? Yep! Did He need to spend time with the Disciples to prepare them for what was ahead of them? You betcha! Still. . .Jesus got away from it all.
And what about you? Do you take time to get away from it all? No, not for just a few minutes. But really get away from it all? Think about it: could Jesus have still done everything He needed to do without that away time? Absolutely! But remember–Jesus is modeling for us the life that God is offering us. He’s showing us how to live–even in the midst of so much chaos and turmoil. Don’t you think there was chaos and turmoil when The Master walked this earth as one of us? Sisters and brothers, in times like these, follow the example of Jesus and remember: SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA GET AWAY FROM IT ALL! And that’s exactly what we are doing!
This morning I’m a little sore. All yesterday afternoon, I worked in The Garden. Not the vegatable garden, but a new Flower Garden. Around here, we love all kinds of flowers. Debbie had been wanting one in a particular spot of our yard between and around 2 forsythias. So, I worked on preparing it. Can’t really plant any flowers just yet. Though it’s Spring, in Alabama, you never know what kind of weather we will have in March. Heat is on in the morning, and the a/c in the afternoon.
In order to have this flower garden I needed to till up the ground and get rid of the grass. It’s too small for my tractor, so I had to use the good old fashioned tiller, garden rake, wheel barrow, shovel, and a lot of scooping up and bending over. Thus the sore muscles and aching bones this morning. And I’m excited for what lies ahead. Sure, we can’t eat what will grow there–but we can still enjoy them. And not just us, but others who notice it as they travel down Alabama Highway 18. And–have you ever heard the expression, “Take time to smell the roses.”? What’s the purpose of my musings about a flower garden? Glad you asked!
We live in a time when the simple things of life are both ignored and neglected. So many times we are obsessed with what we want, what we think we need, that we fail to enjoy life. And agendas seem to be drive by what’s next. Sometimes what we need most of all is to stop and take it all in. Perhaps this is why David wrote in Psalm 23 this verse: “He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams.” It is so important for our emotional, mental, relational, and physical health and well-being that we stop and take in the beauty that does exist in this world. Yes, feed the belly–but also make sure you feed your heart and mind with the beauty of God. Yes, there is beauty to be seen in this broken world, and you never know where it will be. I know some of it will be seen along Alabama Highway 18. Right now in our newest flower garden there’s only brown dirt and a couple of forsythias, but more is coming.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
There are a plethora of ways to sort out people. But there is just one of those ways I want to speak into this morning, and it goes like this: There are only 3 types of people. Those who watch what happens. Those who make things happen. And those who wonder what happened. The point of these distinctions is be someone who makes things happen! I always thought it was better to be someone who made things happen. But being a bit of a radical rebel, I have changed my mind.
Why can’t we be all three, in appropriate proportions, of course? It hit me yesterday morning as I was sitting in one of my hunting stands. I was watching the sunrise; sunrises are a great way to begin the thinking processes in our minds. So, let me apply my personal theory that we need to be all three types of people.
First, there are moments we simply need to watch what happens. Think about my sunrise–I didn’t cause it to happen–it just happens like clockwork. Watching led me to see the beautiful colors and remember the faithfulness of God. Being a new day, there are some things I need to make happen under the leadership and power of The Holy Spirit–such as my growth in grace towards holiness. Then that sunrise caused me to wonder–to be surprised that the God of all Creation loves me and reveals Himself in ways that are so mysterious to me.
You do not have to be just one of these types of people. Each one brings more of God’s grace and presence into our lives. That grace and presence is what changes our lives and leads us in an entirely new direction. It will comfort us when we are hurting. Encourage us when we are struggling. Guide us when we are unsure. I leave you with the words of the most prolific songwriter ever, David:
Lord our Lord, your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth! It brings you praise in heaven above. You have taught children and babies to sing praises to you because of your enemies. And so you silence your enemies and destroy those who try to get even.
I look at your heavens, which you made with your fingers. I see the moon and stars, which you created. But why are people even important to you? Why do you take care of human beings? You made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You put them in charge of everything you made. You put all things under their control: all the sheep, the cattle, and the wild animals, the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea, and everything that lives under water.
Lord our Lord, your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth!
Here in the south, we have a saying for some folks that goes like this: “They are about 2 bubbles off plumb.” It means they are off-balanced, leaning to one side. If something, or someone, is imbalanced they are subject to falling–it’s only inevitable. Of all the infirmities infecting our culture, living an imbalanced life ranks in the Top 10–Nay! Make that the Top 5.
Balance is another way of saying Perspective.Imbalance is another way of saying the lack of proper perspective. I’ve said before that everyone has a perspective (Thank you, Andy Andrews). The issue is where do we find our perspective? Think about the news. If all one watches is what CNN or One America News only says, well–you get the point. And it’s not just in our source of the daily news where we need perspective.
Life as a whole needs a Balanced Perspective. We need work–but we also need recreation. We need cheerleaders who encourage us on–but we also need true friends who will hold us at arm’s length and tell us when we’re wrong (it’s great when that is the same person!). We need someone who can help us see what’s right in front of us–but we also need someone who can see way down the road. We need goals to drive us forward–but we also need to be light, silly, and humorous.
But where can we find such a Balanced Perspective? It’s not so elusive as some would have us believe. It’s found in The Bible and the world’s foremost authority on the Bible–The Holy Spirit. Solomon gives some insight into what happens with God’s Word and God’s presence to guide us to the Balanced Life. We call his journal Ecclesiastes. And in Chapter 7, Verse 18 we find these words:
It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
You can’t take life totally frivolous, and you can’t take life with only seriousness. When Imbalance marks our life journey, it’s a burden, a pain, and like Solomon once said, “it’s chasing after the wind”. Just as making a post or wall plumb takes some effort–so does it take effort to develop Balance in our life. Learn how to laugh at yourself. And if you just can’t do it–call me and I’ll do it for you!
When we walk with The Spirit and learn the strength that comes through living a Balanced life, then we can say: Good! Lord, it’s Monday! What shall we do together?
Today’s Journal entry is about the feeling of being a burden. That’s where Dad was last night after I got here. That morning his feeling able to once again stay by himself was strong. Friday they said he could take off the walking boot because his broken ankle was completely healed. It was such a joy to him. He was feeling more able to stay by himself again. But feeling of taking care of himself gave way to feeling like a burden.
Honestly, I don’t know what that feeling is like. I know how it feels to feel like you’re useless—been there, done that, and got several T-Shirts to prove it. But being a burden? That’s got to be even tougher. I am not alone in dealing with someone who feels like this; and he is not alone in that feeling. Paul knew something about this feeling. He addressed in in 2 Corinthians Chapter 8, Verse 14:
Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.
New Living Translation
So, today we will talk more about that—and I believe my part in the conversation has to be helping him to see he’s not a burden. How can I do that? Haven’t a clue. But I do know Someone who knows everything about carrying burdens. So I will lean into Him and listen as I pray. I ask you to also pray for us today.