I can hear the wind howling outside my window, the wind chimes clanging. The heat just kicked on whirring through vents. The clock ticking. I hear a lot of things as I'm sitting here at my desk processing this week's lesson. I'm alone in the house. John and Jonathan have college classes today and my dad went to Juárez to work at the church for a bit. This week's focus is to 'Rest Your Ears' for this Sabbath Rest theme I've been studying. There's a difference between hearing and listening. When Jonathan is not in classes, he's constantly talking at home. He's a friendly soul and loves conversation. I hear him, but sometimes, I'm not listening. How many conversations around me do I hear, but I don't listen to because I'm distracted or too tired to keep up? Jonathan can take the long way around a conversation and sometimes I ask him, "What is it you're trying to say to me? What do you want me to know?". The study this week focused on 2 instances where Christ asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" He questioned James and John and then blind Bartimaeus (Mark 20:35-52). James and John asked for glory. To be the ones to sit on Christ's left and right hand. Bartimaeus responded with a request for mercy. I was thinking about this last night as I was on the bedroom floor stretching the day out. In Mark 10:45, Christ told James and John that they really didn't know what they were asking for. That what it meant was the call of the suffering servant. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." On my back, legs resting on an exercise ball, listening to soft inspiration music, John and I talked about this last night. Christ came to minister. He asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?"
In verse 46, blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus as He was walking through Jericho. Those around him tried to 'shush' him, but it made him more determined to get Christ's attention. "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?", Jesus asked him. It's not that He didn't know Bartimaeus' answer, but that He wanted him to say it. To name the thing that plagued him. To call out the truth, risking vulnerability.
I was trying to articulate last night what my answer is to the question of what Christ could do for me. What do I want Him to know? How could He minister to me? What is it that I need? And what it is that is imperative to surrender in order to find the answer. (("Seek peace, and pursue it," Psalm 34:14b.)) Of course, He knows what I need and wish for, but He wants me to say it. The name the thing that..what..plagues me? escapes me? How much of it is my fault because I choose the busyness? The still small voice says, "This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21b-- Giving up a time to really listen, to trust that He will come and minister sounds life changing, doesn't it? "The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate", Psalm 34:22.
Christ came to minister and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?". And when I answer vaguely, I get vague results and then wonder why I struggle when peace escapes me. We have definitive goals for work, for ministry, for the home, but we're not quite sure what a day of rest looks like. A day set apart, marked holy and different from the norm. Or even just 'still' time. No planning. No adding to the to-do list. No self scolding over what didn't get done. A time frame set aside to listen for God's still small voice. If it's not paid vacation, then we can tend to feel like rest is not valued time. "Rest is accomplished when we no longer see the clock as a bully, but as a favor", author Shelly Miller wrote. Taking a Sabbath or window of time to rest, can bring life back into perspective. It reminds us that
God is in the details of life and that we can trust Him. "He gave us his life, the price for our freedom (Mark 10:45), yet often we choose to define value and worth by what we produce and shackle ourselves with a bulging agenda." Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest.
When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do, his answer was clear, "Lord, that I might receive my sight", Mark 10:51. Verse 52 recounts that Jesus told him to go his way, that his faith had made him whole. Immediately, he had received his sight and followed Jesus. Bartimaeus' answer was specific, his faith secure, his healing immediate, and his path direct.
To connect with Him, we may need to intentionally withdraw for a bit from the shackles of busyness. To say "no" to extra projects. To call out to Him and to have the freedom and time to rest in Him. To let Him minster to us. To separate ourselves from what others think, risking vulnerability. It's an exposed place to be in when thinking of a specific answer for how Christ can minister to me. Maybe I don't have a specific answer because I tend to be too busy to wait for it. Maybe it's a sense of pride keeping me from naming what I need. Or maybe I feel my request is too silly and simple. “When you don’t have a name for something, you’re haunted by it’s shadows…But when you can name something… It loses it’s mask and you can find a strategy to deal with it.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts) Christ has a strategy and it's simply, "Come to me". Noise, activity, self, and distraction are the devil's playground.
I tried not to hurry last night during my stretching and reflecting on this week's lesson. I wanted to let the clock/time be a favor instead of feeling the need to rush. Part of the stretching routine I'm trying to incorporate nightly is a Sabbath in a way. A winding down process, quiet time too, reflection, taking time to clear my head and breathe. I'd like to not set a time limit ..but to do this as long as I need to. To sense that I'm paying attention to the still small voice. To quiet my hands is hard work. Normally, I'm playing games on my phone as 'down time' until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. That's not stilling hands and heart. It's activity and distraction from rest.
When we quiet our hearts and hands, our sight can be restored too see God's place within our problems. When we honor moments of rest and dedicate that time for His purpose, our ears can tune out the unnecessary noises to tune into His, "What do you want me to do for you?". Christ knows the answer, but He wants us to be specific. He calls for us to recognize His desire to fulfill in every area of life. Through blind trust in His healing, our faith can be made whole.
Surrender to Rest (introduction)
Surrender to Focus (week 1)
Surrender to Listen (week 2)
Surrender to Walk Humbly (week 3)