It’s holiday season for many of us. A great chance to refresh and recharge ourselves. I often thought that would come naturally but now I wonder if there is a science to that as well. Fancy that: preparing and executing a good rest…
There are some helpful thoughts here – written to Christ followers who were living under constant pressure. While their pressure would have been significantly different than ours – pressure is still pressure.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (ESV)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Don’t believe the lies: often due to weariness and discouragement – it can feel like your life has become isolated. It’s easy to develop a victim complex. Throwing accusatory mental glances at all those who don’t do what we do, as much as we do, the way we do it…. Subtly selfish. Deeply toxic. Elijah experienced it – straight after his greatest victory for God. Our feelings can be terrible liars. The antidote is the act of slow reading and meditating on God’s Word. It will speak the truth about who God is but even more importantly who we are in His plans. Use this time of rest to embrace truth – a healthy truth that we are not alone in this race.
Declutter your soul: There are things we need to let go off.You can’t plant something new in a ground filled with rocks and weeds. Look at your soul as a planting patch and allow the Spirit to show you those things that are burdensome ‘baggage’. It could be unforgiveness, bitterness, frustration with people, an unhealthy sense of insecurity, lack of patience, anger… Bring them to the Saviour who died for these sins. Embrace grace. Gaze at Him and see His selfless love. Own it, deep down and let it shape your whole life: thoughts and words.Let this time, become a a significant occasion to fall in love with your Saviour.
Plenty has been made of the ‘echo chamber’ syndrome on Facebook where it seemed like you truly hear what you want to (or what they think you want to). In news media an echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented.
Not sure how real that is for the everyday person. At least from my Facebook feed, I had plenty of conflicting referendum views treacling through. Still, only the naive would not realise that the media controls and manipulates information according to one’s interest. The socio-political dangers are obvious, and taken to extremes, very dangerous.
It makes me wonder how often we can develop a similar problem in our personal discipleship as well as our spiritual community life. It’s so easy to hide behind a carefully fenced off castle of my favourite theological hobby horses and avoid another differing perspective. We find a small club of ‘agreers’ that constantly reinforce our ideas. We rarely read and consider another perspective.
Probably even more dangerous is the spiritual compromise, in which we can begin to excuse and even justify sinful attitudes. There will always be someone out there (particularly those keyboard warriors in the that land of the blogs) who can agree with our own ‘blindness’ to our sinful beams.
To combat the spiritual echo chamber I suggest a couple of ‘antidotes’:
- a humble attitude of sincere transparency: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!’ (Psalm 139:23)
- an intelligent faithful reliance on God’s revealed wisdom: ‘All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.’ ” Timothy 3:16-17
It is so easy to become attached: a job, a person, a philosophy or a hobby. They offer you a that comfortable sense of security that make you feel like you’re in control. It feels good, cozy and reassuring.
But most of the time – it’s all an illusion. The things that we cling to – hoping they would bring fulfilment – they disappoint us. People let us down, jobs come and go, teams lose… This exposes a deeper truth: we are building illusionary sandcastles. They never last. They never protect.
And when the raging waves take them away -we hit another low of disappointment… There is another way – one that leads to satisfaction: the way of surrender and dependency on God.
It’s a good time to unclench that grasp, before it’s snatched out of our hands by life’s knocks and learn to depend on a dependable, everlasting and ever-present God.
Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,  though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:28-42
A question we need to ask ourselves quite often is: ‘How do I live my live, investing smartly in the things that really matter?’ This particular incident from Jesus’ life provides us with some valuable lessons. If we want to be living a life that pleases God, encourages others and brings authentic satisfaction we could learn with Mary & Martha.
Focus on Jesus!
Martha knows enough about Jesus to know that His presence in their home (life) is a wonderful privilege. She knows Him to be a Healer, a Teacher and a wonderful Friend.
When He is around surprising things happen and lives are transformed. If you are a Christ-follower, I encourage you to acknowledge that He lives in you and desires to live through you. Constantly make yourself available and acknowledge His presence. Listen to His voice and speak to Him. Maybe you have never had the opportunity to welcome Christ as the ‘boss’ of your life – this is the wisest ‘move’ you can make in your life (John 14:6) – don’t delay it!
Focus on the Eternal
Mary appears to be insensitive towards her sister, distracted by the presence of their guest, and therefore provoking a reaction from Martha. But that is just an appearance, because Mary chose invest in being with Christ and listening to Him. She prioritized. She knew that this was a unique chance, an encounter to be treasured. She invested in an eternal treasure (Matthew 6:19-24). It seems so easy to fall into the ‘Martha-attitude trap’ when we find ourselves in the presence of incredible spiritual treasures yet we chose the treasures of this earth. Let us seek to evaluate what we listen to, what we watch, how we spend our time and money, who we spend time with – what we are about…