A friend and I were talking, this week, about "Sabbath." We remind each other we need to make SURE and take our "Sabbath" time. Clergy are working on the "Sabbath" where others are worshiping. We, or at least I, try to take Sabbath on a different day of the week. I also try to be in worship, especially where Communion is happening, when ever I can. I really enjoy being able to worship, instead of leading worship, and being able to receive Communion. It is a time of renewal and thanksgiving celebration for me. My friend, and I, actually check in with each other weekly to remind ourselves of the self care needed as "caregivers."
The Scripture, this week, is Exodus 20 where Moses is receiving the 10 Commandments. Putting God first is the first one. Making sure to have no other gods is next and remembering NOT to use God's name 'in vain' is there too. The next Commandment, number 4, is to "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy." God is pointing out the need to STOP and rest. Our bodies need time to eat, and sleep, but especially to stop and be with God. Time to worship, praise and thank, and then spend time with God. We need to do this with others, in a regular time of worship AND individually studying God's Word and spending time with God..
Is this easy, as Caregivers to do? NO!! Is it needed? YES!! When I ask people, especially those who recognize themselves as caregivers, if they are taking time to be with God the response I get is "that sounds like a really good idea." When asked if they are "doing it" the answer is "no, but it IS a good idea." They understand the need of the strong relationship with God but trying to find the "new" schedule is a "say what?!" laugh. It is time to move "forward" into the "new" and celebrate, with thanksgiving, time with God - in worship with others and by ourselves.
How has your week gone? Everything go the way you expected or planned? Were you in meetings, or classes, where "new" things were discussed? NEW ideas! Did you have anyone who would listen, let you work through the changes and then encourage you to move forward? It has been a busy, class filled, new ideas week (with Grandma hugs thrown in!!) for me. I have been blessed, however, to have family, and a special friend, (and more Grandma hugs!!) to help me work through the roller coaster of emotions.
The Scripture, this morning, is Proverbs 3:5-6. I woke up, yesterday morning, with verse 6 going through my mind - "he will make your paths straight." It doesn't mean the path won't seem like a roller coaster - which is how my week had gone! Being able to see friends and family (Grandma hugs!!) while being at a Conference with a lot of information in a very short period of time is a definite roller coaster of emotions. The "theme" of the Conference was Jeremiah 1:11 "What do you 'see,' Jeremiah?" The idea being to move FORWARD with the vision God is giving to each of us.
So...... Roller coaster is the result! Joy of friends and family (Grandma hugs!!) and the excitement of learning new things as the roller coaster is heading for the "laughter" of the "say WHAT?" of last week. The tiredness of travel and long days in class before the blessing of quiet to stop and think. Then God giving the blessing of "In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." (v. 6) Of course then God also shows verse 5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." And the cross reference is "Trust in the Lord, and do good." (Psalm 37:3)
Yes, it is a roller coaster! The ups, and downs, are scary!! Trying the new thing is not only different it is difficult. Yes, we need to make sure people around us are supportive and encouraging. Yes, we may need to learn NEW things (laughing saying 'say what?!!) like technology (say what!!?) But God is calling us FORWARD. Step, by step along a "straight path" He IS with us on.
When was the last time you laughed? At a movie, maybe, if it was a comedy? Maybe watching some of the things on TV? What about the "giggles"? Has it been a while since you 'giggled'? I mean the actual laugh, because it is funny, and the actual 'giggle' because you can't help it. I, at least right now, don't mean the laugh "because if I don't laugh I'll start crying/screaming." Sometimes it seems like the last time there was laughter is so far away a person isn't even sure they remember it OR why they were laughing.
Our Scripture readings, this morning, are Genesis 18:1-15 and Mark 10:27. Angels have come visiting Abraham and Sarah telling them the prophesy will be fulfilled - Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah "laughs." We aren't told if it is a "yeah, sure!" kind of laugh or a "if I don't laugh I'll scream" kind of laugh. All we are told is she is "caught" in the laugh. The angels, visiting at the time, question the laugh and continue to repeat they will be back and Sarah will have a son. The Gospel reading has Jesus giving us the answer - "With man this is impossible, but not with God, all things are possible with God." (emphasis mine) God KEEPS God's promises!
I must admit the thought of having a child at my age, let alone the age Abraham and Sarah are, is definitely something I would be laughing at also. I also "laugh" when someone adds something to a busy schedule, 'giants' appear, and/or the routine changes. The laughter spoken of, in our readings, however is the joyful, happy laughter - the giggles and laughter until your sides hurt. God DOES keep God's promises and we CAN enjoy a good laugh - even as we do face the 'giants' in our lives.
Something to think about, remember and encourage each other to remember. Something to enjoy - even as we have a "say what?!!" laugh!
There are a lot of "new beginnings" happening around us - near and far. The new school year is starting. Some, like me, are learning new appointments in ministry. Some, like in the Bahamas and on the east coast, are going to be leading 'new' lives because of the storm and flood damage. All of us, facing new "giants," find it a little scary and aren't sure what direction to take. Prayer, like we spoke of last week, is the first step in "new beginnings." We can even be in prayer if the "new beginning," like starting the new school year, happens every year.
New beginnings is what our Scripture readings are this morning. Genesis 2 is the second 'creation' story given and has God putting the man "in the garden to work it and take care of it." (v. 15) In our Gospel reading this morning, Mark 1, Jesus is calling the first Disciples. (vs. 16 & 20) The Disciples leave their fishing boats, their way of making a living, and follow Jesus. (vs. 18 & 20) They are starting a new ministry. They are following where God leads. Adam takes care of the garden, names the trees and animals, and is doing what God said.
Are we? Are we praying, listening for what God wants us to do? Are we taking care of God's creation as we are told in verse 2:15? Are we even starting to follow where God is leading us? First steps are hard to take -- watch a toddler learning to walk -- but need to be started. What is the first step God is asking you to take? Can you take it? We may not "run" towards the 'giant,' like David did, but we can - like a friend of mine reminds - take the first "baby steps."
Listening for what God is calling us to do can be a "giant" to be faced. God has given each of us tools, helps and guides with a plan, even helps with the training but sometimes the picture - what we see versus what God sees - is difficult to get past. We 'see' hurricanes headed "in." We hear of another mass shooting. We get the phone call we didn't 'want' to get. The diagnosis, after all the tests, is "bad." We are in shock, not sure what to do and either saying "what do I do" OR "Okay, God, you want me to do WHAT??!"
Our Scripture reading, today, is in Mark 6 and 2 Samuel 23:20 & 21. I must confess I hadn't paid much attention to Benaiah until recently as I read Mark Batterson's book "In a Pit With a Lion." Then I got to thinking of Benaiah, who ends up as a part of David's bodyguard, and David - facing "giants." Benaiah chases a lion "into a pit on a snowy day and killed the lion." (v. 20) Benaiah also "struck down" both a Moabite and a "huge Egyptian." (v. 21) This raises the question..... Did Benaiah go "say what??!" before, or after, these things happened? David has Benaiah as one of his personal bodyguards. Solomon has Benaiah as the "head" of the army. Benaiah was a soldier. I think he understood God was calling him to "greater" things. He followed where God was leading even "into a pit on a snowy day" to kill a lion.
How? I think, especially as one of David's bodyguards, Benaiah had a strong relationship with God. I think, like Jesus shows us in Mark 6, Benaiah took time with God. We aren't told about Benaiah but we are told Jesus "went up on a mountainside to pray." (v. 46) Jesus stopped, took time to pray, and then went "out to them, walking on the lake." (v. 48) Jesus prayed. Do we? Jesus was regularly in worship "as was his custom (Luke 4:16). Are we?
We may not "run" to face the "giant" - like David did. We may not chase a "lion into a pit" like Benaiah did. We do, however, have giants that need fighting. We can be in prayer like Jesus. We can follow, even one step at a time, where God is leading. Who knows, maybe, like Benaiah we CAN be the one to make a difference!