For a Time Such as This

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This oft quoted phrase comes from the book of Esther. In chapter 4 of this story, we find Esther in the precarious position of being the only one in that historic moment, who might save her people from slaughter. She must take the risk of approaching the king uninvited, in order that he may become aware of and put a stop to, an evil plot to erase an entire nation of people from the planet. She was placed there, “for a time such as this”.

As we wake each day, looking to determine how to navigate this particular moment in our history, those of us who consider ourselves Christ followers are asking, “how does God want us to use this time?” We are not here by accident, but “for a time such as this”. But what is it we’re supposed to do with this time? To help us in that, it may be the perfect time to ask ourselves that great question that cropped up in the 90’s, “What Would Jesus Do?” Let’s take a quick look at some of the highlight reel of Jesus’ life, and see if we can’t derive the answer to this question.

I love the passages in Luke chapter 8, where Jesus seems to define multi-tasking, as he moves from casting demons out of a crazy guy into a herd of pigs, to traveling to heal a synagogue leader’s daughter, to healing the bleeding woman and back to healing the daughter…all while crowds were following and pressing in on Him! This was a busy day. And notice He didn’t shy away from a crazy guy, a bleeding woman or a dying girl.

Or what about the man with leprosy we hear of in Matthew 8:2-4? It says that “Jesus reached out and touched the man…” No social distancing here!

Now let me be clear. I’m not suggesting we all run out and jump into a pile of coughing, sneezing, feverish people. I am suggesting that we have a hurting world around us and that Jesus never shied away from the sick and hurting. In fact, He ran toward them. That’s what we should do…not so as to put ourselves at risk, but wisely surround them with love, prayer, provision…whatever it takes for them to feel the love of Jesus; and perhaps see it for the first time.

But let’s look at the other side of the “what would Jesus do” coin. In Luke 22:39-41 and Mark 1:35, we see examples of Jesus retreating to a quiet place to pray. In John 17:1-25 we see the heart of Jesus expressed so clearly, as He prays to the Father for Himself, His disciples and all believers who would follow. The clearest instruction from Jesus on prayer is found in Matthew 6:6 where he instructs us: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen…”

Lots of quiet time with God here. So what would Jesus do, in a time such as this? Go off to a quiet place to spend intimate, uninterrupted time with the Father, or forge out to meet the sick, broken and hurting where they are? There’s one answer of course, and that is “yes”. We can and should do both.

Jesus said it best in Matthew 23:23. While arguably referring to a slightly different matter, He said: “…You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former”. In other words, do both.

If we spend the time in prayer and solitude with the Father that we should and meditate on His Word, then the Holy Spirit should be convicting us to go into the broken places of our world to help and heal. We are here, “for a time such as this”.

 

Looking for Clouds on a Sunny Day

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Let’s be honest, even those of us with the sunniest of dispositions, still have occasional cloudy days. Paul tells us to be content in all circumstances but for most of us, that’s a journey rather than a destination.

Having said that, we’ve all encountered people who could find a cloud in a cloudless sky. In fact, on the sunniest of days, you’ll find these folks hunting for a storm cloud to crouch under and somehow or other, they’ll find one. I’m hoping that’s not you. I recently engaged a man that was new to our area. Many of you know that I live in Colorado Springs; a city that enjoys 325 days of sunshine per year. In fact, as I write this, we are 2 1/2 months into 2017 and have had less than 1/5 of an inch of rain! Makes for beautiful days but dry, crunchy lawns (see, there’s that cloud!).

Anyway, as I engaged this man, I quickly felt the clouds gathering over this otherwise sunny day. As I asked him how he liked the area, I heard nothing about the abundant sunshine, the warm days even in the middle of winter, the low humidity or the breathtaking beauty all around us. No, what I heard about was that it’s too windy! True enough…We do have our share of windy days here at the base of the Rockies and my only rub with that, is that I’ve had many a bad hair day because of it. But this guy was bald…How bad could a windy day be?

So for me, instead of focusing on the stiff breeze and whatever inconvenience it may pose, I choose to stay still and listen to the sounds of comfort and peace it creates as it flows through the towering pine trees. This then, draws my attention back to the sunshine and amazing beauty God has placed me in the middle of…No clouds here!

My point is this: If we want to look for a cloud, we can always find one. This world gives us plenty of opportunity to find a fly in our soup. But does that one fly; that one bad bowl of soup, erase all the wonderful bowls of soup we’ve had over our lives? Will we expect to find a fly in every future bowl of soup we might eat? Will we never eat soup again because of that one bowl? And let’s not forget, there are millions in this world who would give anything for your bowl of soup…fly and all.

So let’s take the advice of James when he says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”; and while we’re at it, let’s remember that a bad hair day or even a fly in our soup, is at it’s worst, a first world trial. And if your current trial is more significant, I know that bits and pieces of joy can be found even in the midst of it. Just choose to ignore the fly, look for the best in the wind and know that the ultimate plans He has for you are good ones.

 

Landing in a Different Place

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As young kids, many of us grew up spending many a summer day on school playgrounds or in neighborhood parks. All it took was a slide, set of swings, see-saw or old fashioned merry-go-round to keep us entertained for hours.

As younger children, it didn’t bother us (or even dawn on us) that while that simple playground equipment provided hours of fun, it didn’t really take us anywhere. You can cover miles on a slide, set of swings or merry-go-round but you’ll end up landing in the same place that you started. It was only as we got a little older and perhaps, more mature that we had a desire for things with more meat to them. Things where you would know whether or not you were making progress. There was a goal, or a score or an end game of some type that you were striving for.

Our spiritual journey is (or should be) much like that. We should be striving and growing to look more like Christ each day. ¬†Read Hebrews 5:12-14. Here the author tells us that if we consider ourselves mature believers, we should be teaching, not still needing to be re-taught basic truths…That we should by now, be weaned from infants milk to solid food.

We often say that God is always moving, and that we of course, should be moving with Him. But like with the pillar of fire and the cloud found in Exodus 13:21, God’s movement and our movement with Him, is never meant to lead us back to the same place in which we started.

In other words, we should no longer be content with the slide or the swings, which always leaves us in the same place. We should be “playing” with things that challenge, inspire and transform us…We should in effect, wake up each day having moved forward; having landed in a different place; and having taken a role in encouraging¬†others to land in a different place as well.