Then, in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a deserted place, and there he prayed. Simon and his companions went in search of him, and when they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Mark 1:35 (J.B. Phillips)
In his book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch shares with the world the challenges and blessings of being a husband, parent, and professor, all while battling pancreatic cancer. He offers the following insights that speak to me in simple, yet significant ways. If you are reading this, my prayer is that these words are life-giving to you.
“…the best caregiving advice we’ve ever heard comes from flight attendants: ‘Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others’….there’s nothing weak or selfish about taking some fraction of your day to be alone, recharging your batteries.” pp. 200-201
I think the professor offers us something significant here. I wonder how many times I’ve dashed off to help someone who was struggling to breathe in some way without making sure I had taken an adequate supply of oxygen into myself? Truth be known—the answer is: way too often. A colleague of mine frames it this way, “A church doesn’t need a pastor who can’t waste away an hour with God on a regular basis!” Ouch!
Jesus made it a regular practice to come away from the crowds and even the inner circle of disciples to make himself available to God. What makes us think that we can somehow come up with a better practice than Jesus? We all feel the weight of expectation imposed upon us. Often those expectations come from others. “Everyone is looking for you.” Sometimes, those expectations come from ourselves.
As the late, Henri Nouwen noted, “ The word listen in Latin is audire. If we listen with full attention in which we are totally geared to listen, it’s called ob-audire, and that’s where the word obedience comes from. Jesus is the obedient one. That means he is total “ear”; totally open to the love of God. And, if we are closed (to the degree that we are closed) we are surdus, which is the Latin word for deaf. The more “deaf” we get, the more “absurdus” we become; and, an absurd life is precisely a life in which we no longer listen and are constantly distracted by all sorts of voices and lose touch with the truth that we are the beloved. Thus, as soon as we start to become spiritually deaf to the voice that calls us “the beloved”, we are going to look someplace else to make us the beloved. And that’s when we get into trouble.”
It is my hope that during this Advent Season, you will not only find new and innovative ways to love and stand in the gap for each other … but also that you will find new and innovative ways to love and stand in the gap for yourselves … by stealing away some precious time in silence and solitude to decompress, catch your breath, and know that you are loved. Selah!
Merry Christmas & Much Love to Everyone!