Posts Tagged ‘Pass The Salt’

A Long Hard Pull

Reading Mark 6

Sometimes God asks us to move in a certain direction and it ends up being a long hard pull into the wind.  It’s not impossible, but it takes a lot of sustained effort and any slacking off results in lost ground.  It calls us to a new level of focus, trust and determination. We recognize we cannot do it on our own.

So it was with the disciples. Jesus had said that they should get away and get some rest. However, the crowds followed because they wanted to hear more, wanted to see more, had a hunger for this Kingdom of God stuff that Jesus was presenting in such a fresh way.  After the miraculous feeding (5,000 men they counted), Jesus sent them across the lake in their boat while he went up the mountain to pray.   The wind came up and the disciples, bless their hearts, were determined to stick to the course, had to put down the sails and row into the wind.  Rowing into the wind is a tough pull, you need to be together and consistent or the wind pushes you back.  The boat is built to move through the water and it can be done, but it calls for disciplined, continued effort.  As they pull away and try not to lose ground and keep for their destination they are startled by Jesus walking on the water.  The passage says he went out to them, but was about to pass by them.  I suspect they stopped rowing and began to bob about in the wind and the waves, thinking they saw a ghost, worried about their immediate future on a whole other level.

Have you ever had something interrupt your world and focus in such a way that it challenged everything you believe and made you wonder if this was your last moment?  This was likely what the disciples were thinking, Jesus responds with “Take courage, It is I. Do not be afraid.”  These are such great words, reassuring words, hope bringing words. It is often the case that a close encounter with God rocks our understanding of reality, but it is always the case that God is calling us to Him and the way to Him is the best way.  Our fears and mis-perceptions need some calming, God’s way is best, trusting in God in the winds of adversity and the uncertainty of what we see –even a ghost! 

He climbed in the boat and the wind immediately calmed down and they were amazed.  I think there is a lot of understatement in this section.  It says they did not understand about the loaves, their hearts were hardened.  The lesson of the loaves?  When you are out of resources, God has your back.  Jesus provided the food for the people, He can take care of their crossing the lake, He can take care of your need.  That may not appear as you imagined, it may even seem frightening, but it is the best way.  Jesus says, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 

Whatever you are pulling hard at, keep at it, but look to God for your resources and hope. God may calm the storm as you trust in Him, and He is ‘in the boat’ with you!

From Faith To Religion.

1Samuel 15 relates the story of how King Saul went from having faith to being religious and along the way, lost the crown.  One of the parts of this story that really resonates with me is Samuel’s emotional pain due to this transition, up all night praying for Saul when God brings His decree, and Samuel mourned for Saul –not for the loss of being King, but for the loss of relationship with God. 

Here’s the basics of the story…

Saul was sent by God to destroy Amalek for their attacking Israel as they came up from Egypt. Saul set off, but decided to bring back their King, Agog, and the best of the livestock. The first as a trophy, the second to ‘sacrifice to God’ –waste not, want not. God speaks to Samuel, the prophet, that night and tells him Saul is done as King. Saul has turned from God and disobeyed his instructions.  When Samuel, sleepless, meets Saul the next day Saul greets him by saying “We have obeyed God, destroyed everything and brought back sacrifices and King Agog.”  Hmmm, there is something wrong with this statement, isn’t there?  Once confronted, Saul confesses he has sinned and wants to be restored before the people.  Wait!  Notice what is missing? Shouldn’t he want to be restored in his relationship with God?  The bigger issue was not Saul’s disobedience, but his turning away from God.  Religion is great –when we have a relationship with God and follow God.  Religion is a problem –when we use it to get or maintain and position/reputation/identity before people.  Jesus taught that the greatest commandment of the Old Testament and indeed the New Testament is to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.”

God wants our obedience, but in context of our relationship; loving God and being loved by God. Mere obedience is religion. Faith is engagement in relationship with God, out of which flows a passion for obedience.  May you develop a hunger to follow God, discovering His great love for you and learning to return that love.