It is hard to see how much God works in our lives when we are in the middle of everything. I look at this man that was sitting by the pool, if you were to ask him what God was doing in his life you’d probably not here a story any different than what people say all around us today.
It is only when we look back on our lives that we see where God was. This is because there are too many distractions around us keeping our mind occupied. Our bills keep us away from see the financial blessings we have received. Our health insurance costs are keeping us from living a quality life. It is funny how many of our distractions are money based. It leads me to wonder why do we let this happen?
The sabbath was instituted by God to give us a day to rest from labor (among many other things). When God gave thi command to Israel they had just left Egypt which for them was a land of slavery. Their worth was dedicated to how much they could do. The sabbath gave them a chance to realize that there was more to them than work and what labor can provide.
The problem is many people take the rest period too serious sometimes, and forget to work even when there is something important to do. This is the issue between the religious leaders and Jesus. Clearly somethikng needed to be done for this man. Everyone knew this and did nothing. Jesus happened to see him and told him to get up. For that man the greatest thing occured and he didn’t care who did it or on what day, he could walk.
Sometimes we get caught up in things and forget the main things. We forget that people have to work, and sometimes they have to work on a Sunday. And some people might need to think about working in some way because they are living off of others. Sabbath, Jesus said, was made for the man not the man for the sabbath. We need to have cycle of work and rest, career and play, and in all things worship and praise. Today examine your life, see where God has been working. Also consider your own cycles of life are you taking time to labor and rest. And are our meetings and churches allowing worship times to assist those who have varying labor cycles?
Today I consider the man at the pool (John 5:1-9). He has been in the same place for 38 years. 38 years. For many that is their entire life or a good majority. And the only thing he has to say is “there is no one to help me.” I am saddened by this. This man for 38 years has waited for someone else to do something for him. You’d think he would have tried to muster enough strength to wiggle alittle closer over the years. Or at least to get those who dropped him of to put him into a position closer. Yet he resigned himself to live in whatever situation he was in. He didn’t every try for something better.
I consider my own life, am I just staying where I am resigning to whatever position others are leaving me. Or am I doing all I can to move to a goal? Sometimes I have to admit I resign. I don’t have the energy to putup a defense but will I stay there for 38 years. I hope not! Jesus came in to speak to him. Asking him what he wanted. There is something about this exchange. the man has to face his desires and consider how badly he wants it. Jesus doesn’t settle for his excuse either. He tells him to move.
Sure Jesus healed the man, but have you considered the fact that this man had to participate in the healing? If he continued to say, “I need someone to carry me” he never would have moved off the mat.
I encourage our meeting to get involved in helping ministries, but I wonder are we truely helping? I wonder if we put into place some form of assistance that required some participation on their part if we’d help more. I am excited this week because we are nearing our yearly ministry conference for the Mid American Friends, one of our workshops deals with helping ministries. I am hopeful that maybe I will see a way to truely help those in need.
I am writting this while watching my son at a hockey camp. There are 80 kids trying to learn the sport and five profesional athletes trying to teach. There are things some know better then other and they are teaching those that want and need to know. The kids have a desire the coaches have a desire to help. They have to meet together for the exchange. And when they meet the kids have to move, react, and participate or they will never learn anything.
We can’t help anyone who doesn’t really have a desire to move. We can only encourage and offer some options. Let us as church meetings be creative in our encouragment and be open to Christ as we participate in helping His children in need.
Today Jesus kindof freaks me out as I read John 4:16-26. I have read this story I don’t know how many times but to imagine myself in the sandles of this woman is something I have never done. Well I don’t make a habit of imagining myself as a woman so of course this is a story that would freak me out.
Imagine some random person comes up to you at the store. Not only a strange person, but a person from a different country. Then this person starts t tell you all about your life. I would be throughly freaked out at that point. How did this person know all this? This was pre-technological age and people, especially people that were from different countries, don’t know things about strangers. I think Jesus probably had a good laugh at this point, but this lady clearly knew there was something different about this stranger.
Jesus didn’t judge her though. He knew that she was a woman that was living a lifestyle of sin, yet He invited both her and her boyfriend into His group. This in itself would have surprised me if I were her because religious people did not, and unfortunatly still do not, make friends with people living sinful lifestyles. It’s unfortnate but often times we feel like we are encouraging their behavior if we befriend them. That isn’t the case now or in Jesus’s day. In a moment this woman was speaking about belief systems, and Jesus had the opertunity to teach.
Friendships open our lives to others so they can see us and we can see them as they are. That’s a scary place to be. We like hiding behind masks and walls, with the idea that people will accept us as long as we perform a certain way. Jesus not only saw through the mask this woman was trying to keep over her face he threw it away. Without her mask she was open to Jesus in a very real way she knew she was seen clearly and accepted.
True worship is neither on this mounain or in Jerusalem but is in Spirit and in Truth. She could not truly worship because she was performing, acting, hiding. She was unable to feel comfortable in God’s presence until she stopped acting and the truth was reveiled. I got to thinking about my own spiritual life. I am a quiet person at heart, I do not often let people know what’s on my mind. This irritates my wife, and I’m sure it affect other relationships too, especially my relationship with God. I could act like I was something else and hate myself or I can be honest about myself and find God meeting, teaching, and speaking in me. Honesty is important in every apsect of our lives because it is only in honesty deep relationships can be built. God is so concerned with honesty that he calls us to repent, turn directions and go the other way. Repent is what he was really telling this woman. And in that spirit of honesty you can worship with Him.
Honesty is one of the great pillars in the Friends (Quaker) culture. I believe that this is why worship can be so intense in our meetings for worship. We have nothing but ouselves sitting there with others before God. Nothing to perform or any ritual to hang onto, just you,God, and friends who love and encourage you. You can’t be fake when you have Jesus speaking to you just as he did this woman. This is why silence is so hard as well. We don’t like to listen to that Inner Light because we would rather believe the lies we tell ourselves. But the honest person is a real person in harmony an communion with God. I encourage you as I encourage myself today to be honest and to worship in a spirit of truth!