God sightings, Scripture verses, What I've Learned Lately

Stepping (or floating) away from the rest of the world

getting away from the rest of the world

When was the last time you got away from the world for a while, just stepped away and enjoyed the peace and quiet without checking your phone every few minutes?

My husband and I spent several hours Sunday afternoon doing something we haven’t done together in years: fishing. And when I say years, I mean I can’t remember fishing together since before we were married (and we celebrated #31 in April!).

He’s gone with friends and has taken our kids over the years and has even fished in creeks or the surf when we’ve gone places. But just the two of us in a boat together? Not since our dating days.

Our church is currently sharing a pastor with another congregation, which means our service is over by 10 a.m. Afterwards, I picked up lunch while my husband got the boat ready and we headed to one of the local reservoirs.

It was a gorgeous afternoon, sunny and calm with a sky so blue it looked Photo Shopped. We heard lots of frogs on the bank and I could count on one hand the number of other boats we saw or cars we heard.

Lovely time away from all the other “things” — absolutely lovely.

Lots of things have changed for us as we’ve adjusted to life as empty nesters in the past year. Our schedules have shifted and we’re finding ways to fill the hours (nights, weekends) that used to be focused on the kids and their things (not that we ever regret those days — it’s what makes parenting parenting). It’s nice to find new things to do together or get back to some things we enjoyed years ago.

Stepping away from the rest of the world and its busyness can be tough to do, but it’s vital for us physically, mentally and spiritually. We need time away by ourselves and time away with those closest to us.

Jesus got away – so we can, too.

After all, if Jesus could take time away from the world in the midst of His ministry, who am I to think I don’t need a break myself? Sometimes Jesus got away by Himself (such as in Matthew 12:22-23, Mark 1:35) and sometimes He took a few of His closest disciples with Him (such as in Mark 14:32-42).

In both situations, Jesus set the example and sent an important message: it’s okay to step away from the world to relax and recharge. No guilt necessary. 😊

I think it’s also important to pay attention to when Jesus carved out these getaway times. They often were after something monumental had happened, when He needed focused prayer time, or when He was on the brink of a decision or change.

Sound familiar? Those are the times when I need to step away, too – and maybe the same is true for you.

When you realize that time is needed, how do you recharge? Sometimes I go somewhere by myself, such as the Monastery of the Holy Spirit that’s not too far from our home. Other times it’s nice to go with someone. I’m glad I said “yes” to fishing on Sunday and “no” to the other things I could have done. Because guess what? Those other things still got done later.

Plus, I started the week in a better frame of mind after getting away for a while. I hope you make time to step away from the busyness in your world this week, too. What will you try?

 

Dear Lord, our days are so full of things to do, things to plan, things that fill our minds and keep us busy, busy, busy. Help us slow down. Help us step away to rejuvenate ourselves and to reconnect with You and the people we love. Because when we slow down, we’ll see You. When we see You, we’ll be changed. And that’s what we want. Amen.


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Living in Faith, Scripture verses

What’s so good about Good Friday?

Today is Good Friday, the day we remember Christ Jesus’ trial, crucifixion and death. It’s a day of sorrow and devastating loss as we ponder what He went through on our behalf and the all-consuming grief that swallowed His disciples and other followers.

Good Friday is a dark, dark day that makes us uncomfortable. But we can’t skip over it on our way from Palm Sunday to Easter.

It’s easy to get excited about Palm Sunday, with its pomp and circumstance, songs full of “hosanna” and stories of how excited the people were to see Jesus ride into Jerusalem (it was such an amazing event that all four Gospel writers tell the story; read Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, or John 12:12-19). It’s even easier to get excited about Easter, when we sing of Christ’s resurrection and God’s gift of eternal life for us. Those are great things to celebrate – after all, the things we celebrate at Easter are the reason why Christ came to earth in the first place.

But we shouldn’t jump from one party to the next without stopping to reflect on what’s in between. You can’t go from one end of the street to the other without passing all the houses, businesses or trees along the way. You can’t read the first and last chapters of a book and understand how the characters got from one place to the other.

In the same way, we can’t truly celebrate the joy of Easter if we ignore the events between Sundays. We need to spend some time walking in Christ’s shoes and imagining how He must have felt to know that His hours on earth were literally ticking away. Humble ourselves as He did on Thursday night when He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). Feel the disciples’ shock at seeing Him do such a thing and begin to finally realize what Christ meant about serving others.

Follow Christ into the garden and learn from His gut-wrenching prayer for strength and help (Matthew 26:36-46 and John 17). See the compassion and resignation in His eyes when Judas betrayed Him and the soldiers led Him away (Luke 22:47-53, John 18:1-14).

Stand silently in response to trumped-up accusations instead of using His power to overthrow everyone conspiring against Him (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, or John 19). Feel the unbearable pain of being beaten and flogged unmercifully. Sag under the weight of a cross too heavy to reasonably bear. Endure indescribable torture while being nailed to that same cross and left to die while people mock and jeer.

It’s hard to dig deep and try to really understand everything Christ went through that week. We don’t like to suffer and don’t usually like to watch other people suffer either; we’d much rather gloss things over and downplay the pain. It’s much more comfortable to focus on the happy days like Palm Sunday and Easter than the agony of Good Friday.

But the fact of the matter is, if Jesus hadn’t gone through the things of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we wouldn’t have an Easter to celebrate. They were horribly necessary steps to get from one Sunday to the next. Otherwise, God couldn’t resurrect Him and show His power over death!

So what’s good about Good Friday? And how can it be called that, considering it’s a day of darkness and torture and death?

There’s nothing good about it if all you see is the darkness, torture, and death. It’s a day of hopelessness and defeat, a day when Satan wins over God and His plan.

What makes Good Friday “good” for us as Christians is knowing that the hopelessness and defeat were only temporary. All hope was not gone and Satan didn’t really win.

As torturous as that day was for Christ, we celebrate because we know His suffering was for us. He was fulfilling God’s perfect plan for our salvation, and so we could someday live with Him in heaven. The blackness of Friday was for a reason — the best reason of all.

Thanks be to God for all He has done for us.