Saturday, February 14, 2015

re-center, re-energize, reconnect

Weary, tired, exhausted, and pulled in a million different directions.  In demand.  Everyone is looking for you!  You’re the go to person, right hand man, the one with all the answers, on-call 24/7, Mom, Dad, wife, husband, sister, brother, friend, neighbor, confidant, student, teacher, boss and employee.  You are called upon to fix everything; broken shelves and broken hearts, you heal with a kiss and encourage a broken spirit. 
You are the driver, cook, designer, decorator, and cleaner.  You find what’s lost and blamed for losing what can‘t be found.  You’re the medic and the Chaplin.  Help me, I need you, where are you, come here, go there, bring this, take that….. it never seems to end.  Even coming to church can seem like just one more thing on the to-do list.
Whew!  I am exhausted just thinking about it!  How many of you have ever felt this way or feel this way now?  Some weeks I look at my to-do list and I just want to cry.  Life gets overwhelming. 
We often feel guilty in those times for taking time for ourselves, for stepping away from the hectic pace of our life obligations to take care of ourselves.  A long walk, sleeping in, an hour to read a book for fun, coffee with a friend, or watching a movie can feel like a luxury.  People depend on us.  We worry, stress and get run down.  It’s exhausting.
When we feel that way, it can be comforting to see Jesus feel the same way.  Often, we focus so much on the divinity of Jesus that we forget that he was human just like us in many, many ways. Our story today is one of those examples.  
That evening at Sunset, as soon as the Sabbath was over, as soon as it was possible people started looking for Jesus.  They had heard all about how he had taught with authority and cast out the demon in the synagogue earlier that day.  His reputation was spreading fast, everyone was talking about him and everyone wanted a piece of him. 
The whole town gathered near the door of Simon Peter’s house as they brought their loved ones to see Jesus.  They brought everyone they could find who was sick or thought to be possessed by a demon.  The mentally ill, epileptic, lepers, people who are paralyzed, mute, deaf, blind…..
Imagine the emergency room at a hospital after a natural disaster or crash on the interstate.  People are everywhere.  There is no place to sit, people are straining to catch a glimpse of Jesus the healer, pushing and pulling people out of their way, trying to be next in line.  There are so many people for Jesus to touch and with each one that passes he is getting more and more tired.  This didn’t start until sundown and unlike everyone else who has been resting all day, Jesus has been teaching and preaching.  As this scene continues late into the night Jesus seeks an escape. 
Just like us, Jesus felt hungry, tired, overworked and exhausted.  He couldn’t even walk down the street without people groping and grabbing at him.  Sometimes he needed to get away too.  He needed to find a corner of peace, solitude and quiet, a time to re-center his life, re-energize and reconnect with God. 
We as fully human people often forget this reminder from Jesus.  In our effort to be independent we don’t like to ask anyone for help- we don’t’ want to bother anyone else with our problems so we keep it to ourselves.  We think: Why should we place our problems and burdens on others?  They have their own problems to deal with anyway. 
In this attempt at being independent we even forget to take our problems to God.  God has loads of stuff going on.  There is war, famine, genocide and poverty.  People are dying and starving.  My problems are nothing compared to that- why would God take time out of that busy schedule to help me? 
That is where Jesus differs from us.  He knows what we have forgotten and what Isaiah reminded us today.  God surpasses our human capacity to handle problems.  God knows you and cares for you just as much as everyone else.  God is not limited in the capacity to care like we are. 
Isaiah asks “Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless.”
It is ok to not have it all together.  You don’t have to understand it all to be loved by God.  God is working in all things, even when we can’t see it or understand it ourselves. 
We all have those “Calgon Take me away!” moments when we are at our weakest and most vulnerable.  It is in these moments when we can acknowledge the limitations of our humanity and allow ourselves to fully experience the power, grace and awe of God. 
We forget that person who offered to help.  We forget that God wants us to relinquish our fear and our worries over to God.  We forget that it is God’s desire to be in a relationship with us and this isn’t possible if we don’t share our burdens with the one who offers healing. 
Jesus knows this.  Even though he is all powerful and offers healing and wholeness to all who seek him, he knows he can’t do it alone.  He can’t do it without being a part of that divine relationship with the Almighty that makes him God. 
This connection, this relationship is what gives him strength, nourishes him for the journey ahead, and what gives him the ability to see the bigger picture of what he is trying to accomplish.
This is the other thing Jesus teaches us in this passage.   He is resting when the disciples come looking for him.  It is the proverbial toddler who won’t let you go to the bathroom in peace.  They won’t let him have any peace and quiet.  Simon Peter doesn’t want Jesus to rest.  He wants Jesus to get back to work. 
There are more people waiting at his house who need healing, more people seeking to hear a wise word from him.  Simon Peter misunderstands that in order to do the work, Jesus needs this time away, nor does he understand the work of Jesus goes beyond this one small town.   
Jesus doesn’t just get re-energized so that he can go back to the fray.  There will always be people who need him.  He re-energized and re-centered his life so that he could remember the bigger picture and get a renewed perspective on his life and ministry.
Our job as parents, teachers, friends and all the hats you wear is more than just putting out fires and doing what other people demand of you.  The bigger picture for your life is the work of shaping lives, teaching and empowering others to learn and grow on their own so they can see the big picture too. 
It is easy for us, not just as people but also as Christians to spend our whole lives putting out fires.  The work of the family and community still needs to get done but if all we do is put out fires, if all we do is fill cracks, rearrange the furniture, and make things appear beautiful than we can get too busy to do the real work of Christians. 
We can spend all our energy on fixing and putting out fires making a to-do list that will never end that we fail to notice that the foundation is crumbling and forget to look for the big picture of what our job as Christians really is.  
Yes, Jesus still offered words of wisdom, yes he still healed those who came to him but as he did this, he went out into the world to share the story of the love, peace and healing power of God. 
That is still our call today. To share the story of Jesus and his love. 
I know you are overwhelmed.  I know you don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day.  I know your family, health, work and even the church can bog you down with laundry lists a mile long and it seems there is constantly a new fire to put out, a new thing to add to your list of things to fix and I know how easy it is to burn out. 
Maybe it is time to stop.  Maybe it is time to spend more time praying and less time doing for a while.  Take a break.  Reconnect with the God who loves you, even when you don’t have it all together and don’t have all the answers. 
Seek healing and wholeness in a solid foundation of a relationship with God who never grows tired of loving you or guiding your paths.  Remember what the big picture is, ask God to help you find it if you’ve never really known what that is.  What is the goal and purpose for your life- outside of what everyone else thinks you should be doing?  
Well-meaning people place demands on our lives all the time, just like they did to Jesus, but what is God calling you to do?  How are you being led by God to see, experience and participate in the bigger picture goals of life and ministry? 
Does your to-do list match up with what God is asking you to do?  Maybe it is time to reconnect and realign our goals with God’s purpose to introduce people to Jesus and to offer the healing love of Christ to the world.