By Jared Warner
Willow Creek Friends Church
August 1, 2021
John 6:24–35 (ESV)
24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
It is good to be back from our 2021 EFC-MAYM Ministry Conference. I hope we enjoyed the live stream from Wichita last week, and I hope we are looking forward to the year to come. I do want to mention a couple of things from the conference that I feel are important. The first is that next year I hope all of us can attend because it will be the closing of the 150th year of our Yearly Meeting. We will be celebrating that momentous occasion by meeting in the city where our Yearly Meeting was first formed, Lawrence, Kansas. To celebrate our Yearly Meeting hopes to start the next 150 years by revitalizing and expanding our churches, both in currently established meetings and planting new locations to meet for worship. This dream comes with some cooperation on our part, to do this the yearly meeting hopes to raise $150,000 of support.
This sounds like a huge number, but I think it is something we can achieve. We are already starting the process, in our own area we have three new Friends’ ministry points: Friends of Lawrence, the Hispanic Friends of Emporia, and the Friends Church in Raymore. And the newest Friends Meeting to reach full church status, St. Paul Friends Church in St. Paul Minnesota, is in our area. Our little area of small churches is right in the middle. We are right where we need to be. I am excited to see what will happen next.
This great work is going on all around us. But often we do not see it. This happens often among people of faith. We get excited for a bit. Then we fall back into a state of indifference. We have, what many call, mountain top experiences, and then we have what the mistics of old would call dark nights of the soul or we get engulfed in clouds of unknowing.
We love those mountain top times. We can feel God moving among us, we can sense the Spirit of God working. We try to capture those mountaintop experiences and make them last. That is not the point of faith or worship. When George Fox first began his ministry one of the statements, he made was that he knew God experimentally. That statement seems odd today, it sounds cold and clinical. Fox lived near the beginning of the age of reason in Western Civilization. During this age our ancestors began to systematically move away from superstitious ideas and began trying to explain things using the scientific method. Fox said that he knew God experimentally, he sensed God’s Spirit working and moving, and he could see the results. Some may translate the use of experimentally into experientially but it was more than that. Fox did not build his faith on experiences, but observation. When he was in one of his darkest moments, he was seeking God hoping to find answers to build his life upon, but as he sought those answer, he met only platitudes. In despair he took his book of scripture into a field and sat there alone, and in the silence, He heard a voice that spoke to him, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to your condition.” From that point on George began to develop a lifestyle around stillness where he would hear the voice, and then respond in ministry. He would gather people together to meet in the stillness and then out of those meetings people would find their calling in life and begin to minister as they were lead. From the outside it might seem as if these people are being led by experiences, and at times it is true that they were often emotionally based, but there is more to it. There was advice and counsel, speaking to those that sensed a calling, there were meetings of clearness where people would gather to discuss personal or corporate decisions. These meetings were a mix of pray, study, and constructive criticism.
The Society of Friends has been around since the 1650’s. We have been involved in some of the greatest moments in history yet often remain as a footnote. We have worked to provide humane treatment to those in prisons, we were instrumental in the formation of what would become the United States, we promoted the abolition of slavery and equal rights for all humanity, and we have been a firm voice in equal access to education. All these monumental works, and if you were to go to any history class in school if Friends are mentioned at all they are referred to as extinct. No longer in existence. I find that interesting, distressing, as well as refreshing.
Today, in the passage of scripture, we see Jesus once again with a crowd. Since I did not bring a message last week, we missed part of the story, the feeding of the multitude. The crowds that came to Jesus were great in number, they were in a desolate place, and it was getting late. The disciples urged Jesus to send the crowds home, but instead Jesus told the disciples to feed the people. If you have ever had to obtain food for a large gathering you are aware that it is no small feat. Even today with the modern conveniences it takes a great amount of logistics to get the right amount of food at the right time. We have industrial ovens and vehicles that can travel great distances in a short amount of time. They had stone ovens, heated with a flame, and the majority traveled by foot. To get enough food for a multitude of 5000 men plus women and children, would have needed weeks of planning and a caravan to transport it. Yet, Jesus, straight faced looked at them and said you feed them.
I want us to just imagine the mission that Jesus set them on. To call it overwhelming is to be charitable. It was not possible. Not only were they in the middle of nowhere, but even if they were in an urban setting with enough money, there was not enough time to accomplish the task. The average loaf of bread requires approximately thirty minutes to bake. Even if the average oven could hold ten loaves of bread it would take 500 hours to bake one loaf for the estimated amount of people that were likely at the gathering. They are in an isolated place, meaning there would not be that many ovens around and many of these rural communities would have had a shared oven among an extended family group. There might have been around twenty ovens available to bake bread, which would mean it would take the disciples twenty-five hours to provide the needed loaf.
This was not an easy task; it was not even a possible task to accomplish at that moment. Yet when Jesus made that statement, he was showing them what their ministry would be. There will always be too many mouths to feed and not enough resources to accomplish the task.
Jesus does not leave the disciples in that place of despair. He tells them to feed the people, they inform Jesus its impossible. Jesus then asks what do we have? They ask around and bring to Jesus something insignificant, a boy’s lunch of five loaves and a couple of fish. And miraculously everyone ate their fill on that meager ration. We do not know exactly how this happened, some will say that the boy’s offering inspired everyone else to share and others will say that Jesus literally multiplied the food. That does not matter. God was able to do something remarkable with something so inadequate.
After this amazing feat, the disciples are told to set sail to the other side of the sea, and Jesus remained behind. The crowds knew that Jesus remained behind and when morning came Jesus was not where the crowd expected him to be. They then began to search for Jesus. They got into boats and began looking for Jesus in places they anticipated him to be. They looked in the area they ate the bread, they looked in Capernaum, but did not find him. The then went across the sea to the other side. These people were frantically searching for Jesus.
I do not know if we fully grasp the intensity of this search. They did not want to lose Jesus; they would do whatever it took to say near his camp. They would follow him wherever he went even if it meant going to the other side of the sea, into the part of that region shrouded in the darkness of the Gentiles. When they finally found Jesus they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” John told us that Jesus walked across the sea, and it is a story that John remembered well because it caused grown men to cry out in fear. But those that were not part of the group of disciples we unaware of this event. To them Jesus just disappeared.
We might look at this passage and think that it is a great sign of devotion of these people, but that is not the response that Jesus gives. Jesus tells them that they are there not because of the signs but because they ate their fill of loaves. “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
They had followed Jesus across the sea, they had entered the valley of the shadow of death and yet Jesus tells them that they are only there because they ate their fill of loaves. They are only there for selfish material reasons. They are there for perishable food not the nourishment that endures to eternal life. The crowd takes offense to what Jesus had just said. What more do they have to do to prove their worth?
Jesus answers simply. The only work is to believe in him.
I want us to stop right here. This seems ridiculous on the surface. They had just crossed the sea they believed that Jesus could give them what they needed. They would not be on that opposite shore if they did not believe. And this is the problem. We have different levels of belief in our language, but what Jesus is speaking about is a type of belief that goes beyond knowledge, or even assurance. He is speaking of what I call entrusting faith. This is a level of belief or trust that is obedient even if it does not make sense. It is to continue to endure even if the food does not come.
They listen to those words that Jesus says and they respond, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?” They are turning this belief around on Jesus and revealing exactly what Jesus had said to begin with. The only reason they are there is to get more food. They do not want to have to work, they do not want to have to struggle. They want to go back to the good old days, where God just gave them everything they needed and they did not have to worry about anything.
They are looking at their history with rosy glasses. God did provide manna from heaven every morning. He did provide quail while they traversed the desert. In their minds the people of Israel were trusting God during that time and they received the food because of that trust. That was not trust. That was survival. Every day they had to gather the bread, and if they gathered too much and tried to save some for later it would spoil. They were bound to God because their lives depended on it. Eventually they entered the promised land, and the bread stopped coming. God was no longer providing the bread in the same way. They trusted that God would provide, but once they were in the land they had to move to a different level of trust or belief. They had to live that trust out and believe that God would in some way provide for their daily bread.
In the desert their faith was given to them. When they entered the land, they had to live their faith. They had to entrust themselves to God even when it did not make sense. This is what Fox meant by Experimentally. He listened to the voice of God that he sensed in his life, and when he entrusted everything in obedience to the Word, he observed that through the times of plenty and famine God still provided. The people that followed Jesus after eating their fill did not want to entrust their lives to God. They did not want to have to do anything themselves. They wanted it done for them.
There is a fine line between signs and faith. Between looking for a reason to believe, and just looking for our personal needs to be met. I struggle with this as much as anyone else. I want to fully believe and I hesitate because I have needs. I have a folder on my computer that has documents about the dreams that I have had as to the future of the ministry of Friends in this community. I have not fully expressed those dreams in public and I wonder why.
Friends have historically been very active at the beginnings of many great reforms in culture since our inception. But that comes with a cost. We love to speak about the work of Levi Coffin and the underground railroad, but we do not like to mention that his Meeting threw him out when he first began to push them to reform. We like to mention that we have always been supportive of equality for all people but in the year 2021 we still have inequality language in our faith and practice. Thankfully we are in the process of revising that. We like to think we are doing great things, but are we? Are we willing to entrust our lives to God like Fox, and others? Are we willing to walk in obediently? We like those people of Israel like things done for us, that is why we often have the polarizing political cycles in our nation. We want things and we think this or that person will give us what we need. That is not the faith God wants us to have. We are not supposed to live enslaved to the whims of mankind, but we are to entrust our lives to the King of kings and Lord of Lords. And we know that we can do this because he did give us a sign: he went to the cross, carrying our shame with him and died on that tree. He was buried in the ground enduring separation from life in death. And he came out of that grave restored to life on the third day and now sits at the right hand of God in paradise. We have the signs recorded in scripture. We also have them experimentally in the lives of those around us. Each of us can testify to God’s goodness, and grace even through the struggles we endure in life. We will all struggle, we will all wonder where our daily bread will come from at some point. Maybe within our business, or maybe in our personal life. But are we willing to entrust what we have to God and for his glory? Are we willing to believe in him whom he has sent? Will we seek more signs or live by faith?
If you would like to help support the continued Ministry of Willow Creek Friends Church please consider donating online:
For those that visit this site every Sunday to see what new post might be there, I am sure you quickly realized that there was a void. There is a reason for this void.
Willow Creek Friends Church, and as extention Jared Warner the pastor of Willow Creek and the author of this Blog, is a member of a larger religious society (denomination). This larger group is the Evangelical Friends Church Mid America Yearly Meeting.
I know that the name is a mouthful, but there is a reason. Friends Meetings, often but not always unite into larger Meetings to pool resources for greater ministry. A Monthly Meeting or local church is often part of an Area or Quarterly Meeting. Thes Quarterly and Monthly Meetings also partner with a larger cooperative of Meeting to form a Yearly Meeting. If you noticed the names Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly are there for a purpose. The time element of the name is when we have a specified time to meet for the expressed purpose of how and where we will invest the resources that have been given to the Meeting’s care.
Each month the Monthly Meeting, or local church, invites those that participate in worship to a Meeting for Worship in which Business is conducted. These meetings are unique in the Friends Church because they are not conducted like many governing organizations, we do not seek a majority, or even a super majority. Instead we seek a sense of the Meeting. Many would look at this from the outside and think that we are wanting unanimous consent, and they would not be completely incorrect. There is more to it than unanimous consent. As Friends, we believe that the Spirit of God is our ever present teacher and guide. We believe that if we seek the Spirit and listen, we will be guided toward the places we need to go.
Yes it sounds strange, at times it is strange, at times it seems impossible because to get to that collective sense of the Spirit, we as a group must lay aside all those opinions and personal agendas we might hold and actually live a life of faith. We have to entrust to this unseen divine light, all those resources we as individuals gave and not maintain control. We must trust that every member in attendance around us is also doing the exact same thing.
Needless to say this process can take time, because as each person speaks and as we all seek, we are able to lay more of our own control down and trust what God is and will do. As we seek answers to the questions raised and as we pray eventually we all come to a place where the direction is clear. The process can be filled with many feelings but when that process is directed with care the results are powerful. (If you would like to learn more about this decision making process I encourage you to read this book. Practicing Decernment Together by Lon Fendall, Jan Wood, Bruce Bishop.
This process is conducted in some form at each level of these Meetings. And this past weekend, our Yearly Meeting gathered at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas to meet for Worship and business. Over the years some of the decision have been entrusted to committees to respect the time of those that attend but the process is the same. Each Quarterly Meeting or area has a representative that is appointed by the area to represent their area, these representatives are chosen because of their wisdom, passion, and discernment in those areas of ministry. I have had the privilege of serving on some of these committees over the years. These committees will do much of the decernment and then bring what they sense to the Yearly Meeting representatives (a person that is chosen from each monthly meeting to represent that meeting).
If the decisions presented by the various committees are accepted by the representatives, we as a collective group move forward. At times there is a sense that more discernment is needed and those items are taken back to the committees to be considered and prayed about more.
What could we possibly need to do for so long? These committees discuss things like budgets. Other committees will then take their portion of the budget and consider how to invest those resources. We use those resources to extend ministry invarious ways, opening new Meetings, encouraging educational organizations, supporting various projects within our region or even in countries outside of our region. And we also share with the representatives how the investment of those resources has assisted those it was entrusted to.
I will not go into great detail, but to see there change in people’s lives has been remarkable. This year we had the privilege of accepting into our Yearly Meeting a new Monthly Meeting. But the interesting thing about this particular Meeting was that they came to us because of the work people have done in countries on the other side of the world.
The point of all this is to let you all know a bit more about the unique aspects of Friends, and to let you know why I did not post a message like I usually do. In our weekly Meeting for Worship, we live streamed the closing meeting of the Yearly Meeting.
In this closing Meeting we recorded three ministers. Recording is something that may sound odd from the outside as well. As Friends we believe that everyone is a minister in some manner. Meaning each of us should be living our lives obedient to the leading of the Spirit. But there are some people that exhibit a special giftedness. Some people that have an ability to encourage and equip the church to do the ministry they are called to do. These people are recommended to the Yearly Meeting for recording. Some might say that it is simply and ordination service, but that is not correct. Friends believe God ordains, God empowers, and enable. We only record what God has done.
We as a Yearly Meeting recorded three ministers. All three of these individuals are amazing and have encouraged many people. They are pastors but more as well, they are teachers in colleges, and they assist the students in our areas to find their place in the world and in the ministry of God. All three of the individuals recorded today have been encouraging in my personal life, and it is odd to me that they were recorded after I had been recorded.
That is the uniqueness of Friends. We do not seek recording, but the monthly meetings recommend them. We encourage everyone to do what they are called to do where they are at. Some may never be recorded while others are recommended right away. This does not really mean anything other than some equip quietly over time and others are sent out, but all have a place.
I am rambling, but I do love the Friends Church. I encourage you to learn more about us. And want you all to know that you can contact me if you want.
Recommended books and websites:
Contact me at: email@example.com
By Jared Warner
Willow Creek Friends Church
July 18, 2021
Mark 6:30–34 (ESV)
30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
Mark 6:53–56 (ESV)
53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.
How has your week been? How many items did you have in your schedule? Did you get them all completed or are you thinking right of what you need to do as soon as the meeting for worship is over? We live in a culture that almost takes pride in being busy. If someone does not have to look at their calendar when you ask to meet with them, we almost feel as if they are lazy. And we almost feel embarrassed if we do not have at least one event conflicting with potential meetings. The conversation around juggling schedules is replacing idle chit chat about the weather, mainly because having an opinion about the weather would require us to slow down to notice if there are clouds or not.
We are a busy culture. When I was in Ukraine, I was constantly annoyed that people did not show up to meetings on time. I was annoyed that the trains were not where they said they would be when they said they would be there. I was annoyed that people did not have a sense of urgency. And I get back home and begin work in a corporate world, and my supervisors are telling me that I do not have enough sense of urgency. I have been told that I am too laid back and need care more. I have always found this to be surprising, and to be honest I would venture to say that those supervisors did not know me nor how I work.
In today’s passage, we see Jesus and the disciples in a bit of a different way. Usually, the gospel accounts have Jesus doing the ministry and the disciples just following him around. But today, is a bit different. Jesus is the one sitting around and the disciples are the ones that are on the move. Jesus sent the disciples out. He sent them to the surrounding villages around his hometown to minister. He told them to go. He advised them to put on their durable shoes and to grab a walking stick and nothing else. Do not pack a bag, do not run to the bank to get some cash from the ATM, he did not even want them to pack a lunch. Just go. And he gave them the authority over unclean spirit, he gave them the power and authority to do pretty much everything they had watch him do.
Jesus sends them out, but what does he do in the meantime? He morns his cousin’s death. Jesus sends out the twelve, giving them authority over unclean spirits, and they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. They cast out demons and anointed many who were sick with oil and brought about healing. And while they do that, we got that weird interlude in Mark’s gospel where we discuss the growing fame of Jesus’ name and Herod’s guilty conscience. Jesus sent out his disciples to give himself space.
We do not see this interlude as Jesus’s grief. Even though I spoke about the passage last week I did not present it in this manner, but if we consider the scene. The twelve are out wandering in the villages, expanding the ministry of Christ. And Jesus is alone, and maybe he joined with John’s disciples as they carried his body to the tomb.
Today, the disciples are making their way back to where Jesus was. They are sharing various stories and are filled infectious excitement. Do we sense the excitement? I want us to remember the Monday after the Chiefs won the super bowl. How many of us remember the score at the beginning of the 3rd quarter? How many of us remember as the opposing team posed for a picture after scoring a touchdown assured that they were going to win? How many of us remember the remarkable comeback? The conversations the Monday after were filled with commentary, smart phones were replaying highlights, and pretty much everyone was talking about the game. I remember that day, I remember how the supervisors at the store expected little to get accomplished that day, and their expectations were not far from correct.
That was just a football game. What the disciples experienced was far beyond even being present at the live event. They had watch people around them being released from spiritual bondage. They were seeing illnesses that crippled the afflicted leaving the body and lives being restored. We have trouble remembering how to tell the punchline of a joke at times, imagine trying to explain atrophied muscles becoming firm and toned.
They did not want to stop talking. They were excited to tell their stories and to hear the stories that the other groups had to share. Each group most likely brought people along with them to tell stories as well. We are not told this explicitly but if the story is too good to be true but it really is true, you would want to bring a witness or two to corroborate what you had to say. People are coming and going. Stories are shared, laughs are heard. There is so much traffic in and out that the disciples and Jesus could not even take a break, even to eat.
Have you had a day like that? I worked in retail for the past eleven years. I understand this kind of busy. There are days where the stores that I have worked at buy food for their employees for one reason, the stores are so busy that if they did not have food readily available their employees would not take the time to eat. It is not that they wanted them to work that hard there was just too much to do. When a store is preparing for inventory, the day when every item in the store is counted, employees are not thinking about food, they want to make sure their area is ready to go. When the Black Friday event begins and customers are herding into the aisles a retail working is not thinking about when their lunch break will come, because they are too busy helping their customers find the hot deal on an instapot. We have days like this. I am sure that during tax season accountants have their schedule booked so tightly they are lucky to have time to eat a granola bar within the course of their workday, and I know that during harvest farmers wives often must remind their husbands that sleep is necessary.
The camp of the disciples was busy. The excitement was at monumental levels. And I can just imagine that Jesus was probably having a great time watching and listening. But he also knew that the human body cannot endure that kind of stress for long.
Adrenaline is an amazing biochemical produced within our bodies. It can enable our bodies to perform in nearly superhuman ways, but it comes with side effects. The presence of this hormone causes the muscles in the body to become stimulated. The heart beats faster, our legs might begin to twitch, our senses become more alert. This happens because we are on edge, ready to respond quickly in instance of danger. The body then begins to produce more glucose so that the muscles can have the energy to continue to function at this heightened state. Our bodies are using more glucose so if we do not eat eventually our bodies will become hypoglycemic. To combat this the liver kicks into action converting the fats in our body into usable energy. This sounds great, but what happens if we are not actually using the energy?
Adrenaline is produced during high stress. This can be positive or negative stress. If positive we are usually working hard or exercising. The negative stress is the problem. Doctors will tell us to do things to relieve stress in our lives because its hard on our heart, or maybe because we are borderline diabetic. The reason they say this is because when we are stressed mentally our bodies still respond in the same way as if a dog were chasing us, but our muscles are not using energy so the adrenaline is pumping our body full of extra sugars with nowhere to go. Eventually when that is not used, the glucose is converted back into fat which usually is stored in places like the liver, or around the heart. Negative stress, the stress from work, and misplace anxiety contribute to our nation’s obesity problem. It is not only the amount of sugar we consume. It is the stress with no healthy outlet.
I am not saying that Jesus knew the potential health risk of unchecked stress, but he could have he is God. What I am saying is Jesus understood that once the body runs on adrenaline for a while a crash is imminent. While we are in the zone, we do not know how close we are to that crash. In our mind we have never been better. Our mind is clicking, our actions are honed with precision, but with each beat of the heart we are closer to that crash. That moment when we have no more to give, and our bodies fail us. If we are an athlete the crash might be an injury something like a pulled muscle, or a twisted ankle. For me, I will be writing away thinking everything is flowing perfectly and suddenly, my brain seems to stop. I cannot type, I cannot even think. It is as if the transmission of my brain popped out of gear and the clutch is out of sync and I cannot get things reengaged no matter how hard I try.
Jesus sees this in the eyes of his disciples, and he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Rest. Stop. Take a break. Go on vacation. Retreat.
Just when things were beginning to click, Jesus looks at them and says, “let’s take a break.” Imagine the shock of this. It would be like the coach of the football team calling a time out right when the momentum of the game was beginning to go their way. “Come away by yourselves,” Jesus says and he wants to show them and let them experience the holy rhythm that He lives.
I speak of this holy rhythm often. Enough that if you do not have it memorized after attending our meeting for a couple of months you have probably not been listening. Jesus’s holy rhythm is worship, prayer, and service. He made it his custom to worship. He withdrew to isolated places to pray, and the ministered to the need within the community. This rhythm is important for many reasons that stretch beyond the spiritual life. You can even apply this at work. Worship is celebration or remembering accomplishments. Prayer is taking a step back to examine what we are doing and looking at things from a different perspective. And service is reengaging a project. It is a holy and healthy rhythm to incorporate into your life.
But often we forget to “come away.” That coming away is in the center of the rhythm. It is in the center for a reason because it is the pivot of the cycle. If we put all our attention into service or ministry. If all our energy is on the work we need to accomplish, we might get a great deal done, but are we improving? In a football game, it is important for the offense to be on the field as long as possible. When your team’s offense is on the field that means you have control of the game. The defense is extremely important but if the defense is on the field too much you have lost control. Your defense must be strong, for the simple fact that it keeps your offense on the field.
If all we do is work, or ministry. If we are on the go all the time. It is like the defense is on the field all the time. When the defense is on the field mistakes are made and the other team gains the upper hand. When all we are focused on is the task right in front of us at any one moment, we are not able to see what is coming. When a department manager in a store is too busy stocking the shelves and not investigating the inventory levels eventually, they will sell out of items at the worst possible time. Ministry or work is immediate it right in front of us. We must do it now, those that live only in that place are highly stress. They might feel like they are keeping up, but eventually they will start to fall behind, because they have not had the time to anticipate what is coming up. If a factory pushes too hard to fulfill the orders and they do not come away to do routine maintenance, the machinery will break down causing greater harm. If a truck driver keeps driving and does not stop to rest an accident will eventually happen. We need to rest. We need to slow things down so we can regain control and perspective.
Jesus taught us that the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. God gave us the sabbath not because he required that day for us to worship him, but we need that day. We need a day to stop what we are doing so that we can reengage life with renewed energy. And sabbath is not just worship on a Sunday morning. Sabbath is an intentional and disciplined. It is routine maintenance of our physical and spiritual life. It is there to remind us of what is most important, and why we do what we do.
After the disciples joined Jesus in this sabbath retreat, we see Jesus coming ashore, he sees a great crowd, and he has compassion on them. He has compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. I want us to focus on this as we enter our time of Holy Expectancy. A sheep without a shepherd is chaos, fear, despair. Sheep without a shepherd are wondering around without direction. They are eating the grass, following only their mouth and their stomach, until they are lost and vulnerable to attack. A sheep without a shepherd is the state of mind we find ourselves in when we live our busy lives without time to come away and rest. One thing after another, the next task, the next project, the next, the next. Wondering eating one blade of grass after another until we are lost and vulnerable. Yes, we might be working on good things, things that have great importance, even righteous importance but what is the cost? Come away, take a break, go on vacation, get some rest. Develop a holy rhythm in life, because the things that you are doing have great importance, and the offense needs to be on the field.
If you would like to help support the continued Ministry of Willow Creek Friends Church please consider donating online: