After church this morning I chatted away a few hours with a good friend. We discussed the highlights and lowlights of recent happenings and what God might have in store for us soon, among other things, of course. It all felt rather pleasant in the sunshine, though I didn’t feel quite as bright as the weather. I’d felt strange at church, my worship was lacklustre and I didn’t connect with the word.
Later in the evening I realised I had a whole 5 hours to myself. With both flatmates absent, I began to plan (my natural tendency in all situations) my very free evening. One might think to plan in these situations is absurd. A Sunday evening doesn’t need a plan, it is simply Sunday evening and is therefore void of a schedule. Anyway, I decided a long bath and a bit of bible would do the trick, “I always feel chilled after a Bath”, I thought. Ironic considering the warm water.
My plan of inaction suitably slowed my frequency and I enjoyed a little reading. Though I’d asked Jesus if we could chat, and he certainly did some talking. As they say of l’imparfait – I’ll set the scene:
John 1v 35-39
“The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.”
Now I’ve read this passage many a time, and it’s been a somewhat average read. Yes, two guys hear about Jesus and tag along with him for a bit. Nothing abnormal about that. Jesus had & still has followers, indeed of which I am one. But tonight I read it differently. Jesus’ question hit me: “What are you seeking?” and their answer even more: “where are you staying?”
I’m not sure about you but when Jesus asks me what I want, I don’t usually respond with: ‘What you up to?’. In reality it’s more attuned to the sound of a flash car, a pay rise or a new dress. How did I get so far off the pace? All I used to want was to know where Jesus was so I could hang with him, which is exactly what the first disciples wanted to do. Imagine if my response to God most days had ended up in scripture instead: “What are you seeking, Louisa?”
“Well, as you asked God, I really need help getting all my work done in the office today and I’d really love a few extra quid to get my hair cut. That doable?”
My eyes refocused and I saw why I’ve been so distracted of late, why my times with God have been difficult and why I’ve not been feeling satisfied. I’ve been seeking the things God gives rather than God himself, and I’ve been missing out on the joy that comes from pursuing his presence.
I’ve been a classic Martha (Luke 10v38-42). I’ve dived head first into distraction:
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
I think just last week I asked God that very question: “Do you not care?” as I went about my busyness. But the lesson here is that just one thing is necessary; we need to simply spend time with the Lord because He is God. From that place rivers of living water flow.
So as I recall my conversation with my friend in the sunshine, I realise my raincloud ranting most likely had links to what I have now written above. If I seek what I want God to do for me, and even His blessings for what I want to do for Him (my usual source of confusion & anxiety) I’ll be out of focus. Whilst I know we can ask of God anything and he will listen (and often graciously answer), I must “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and let Him work out the rest.
Oh how gracious and merciful is our God. How wonderful is our Holy Spirit who teaches us all things.