Philippians 4:4-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation… present your requests to God.
The Pause that refreshes
Some of you know that I occasionally go fishing. One of my favorite times is in May and early June when the sulfur mayfly hatch is on Spring Creek. On a day when I plan on going fishing, the excitement builds and often I head to the stream maybe a couple of hours before it get really good before the mayflies are floating on the surface.
Sometimes in my haste to begin fishing, I rig up my rod, hurry to the stream and wade it and begin casting. In the process I might scare trout that were already feeding practically at my feet, miss the doe drinking just across the creek, or fail to note a recently fallen tree and its affect on the current. On the other hand, I now try to sneak over to the edge of the stream where I might enter the water but pause on the bank to let my senses adjust to what is happening in front of me. For the sake of a few minutes of fishing time, I take time to “smell the roses” so to speak to become one with the stream. I might note the pattern of several trout already feeding so I can plan my approach, I might see the size and particular shade of hatching mayflies so I can change my fly while seated rather than mid-stream where I have been known to drop an entire box of flies. The point is by taking a bit of time to adjust my attitude I changed my behavior for what usually is a better experience even if I don’t catch a trout.
As Christians we should be well aware of the fact that the world is constantly trying to pull us away from God. A couple of months ago Darla and I were in Walt Disney World with Beth and Valerie enjoying a relaxing week. WDW is sometimes referred to as the “happiest place on earth and Disney does a great job of providing a setting and literally taking care of its guests so they can forget all their troubles and enjoy great settings, interesting attractions, thrills, and yes good food. It could be easy to fall into the pitfall that the world can satisfy all my needs. One afternoon while at Hollywood Studios I happened to notice a sky writing plane above in the clear blue sky. The pilot spelled out “Jesus loves you”. Air currents caused some letters to fade much quicker but “Jesus” persisted the longest. I thought awesome!! For a awhile it was difficult walking around as other guests were staring into the sky unaware of their path.
I welcomed that pause in enjoying the park as it reminded me that only Jesus can provide all I need to get thru life. As I walked just a short distance I came upon a huge old fashion Coca-Cola bottle that occasionally would spray out light mist surprising young and old. And that reminded me of the old Coca-Cola ad with “the pause that refreshes” theme. Got me to thinking that despite my morning prayers, giving thanks for my blessings and asking the Lord to be with me during the day I often forget and lapse into a “me” attitude particularly when crisis or other unpleasant happenings occur. So, I need “pause” and “get refreshed”.
Scripture is full of examples of individuals, men and women just like you and me who paused and came away refreshed. Jesus was constantly going off by himself, praying and coming back “refreshed” so he could continue His ministry. Yes, he is the Son of God but as a human I am sure he got drained emotionally and physically performing miracles, seeing how dense the disciples were, knowing how the Pharisees were burdening the people, etc. And, I think he was scared or at least having second thoughts as to going thru with God’s plan. Sometimes God initiates the pause. In Acts we learn of Saul who was persecuting the new group called Christians and how God gave him a three day pause afterwhich he accepted the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then we read about his mission trips where he experienced some major ups and downs. He prayed and often the Lord caused Paul to pause and be freshed so he could continue.
Imagine how Gideon felt when the Lord was telling him to lead the Israelites and have a great victory over this huge army of Midianites and fellow tribes. Pastor Andy spoke to us about Gideon a few weeks ago as part of the series on leadership. I thought “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh” he is taking my story but actually Andy introduced a hero from the Bible who fit my message. The Lord knew Gideon’s heart and also his doubt so there were several “pauses” for Gideon to not only know God was with him but that God was going to take care of things if Gideon obeyed. Imagine Gideon with his 32,000 person army taking on a 135,000 man army and then the Lord reduced his army down to 10,000 and then to 300! Bet there were some pauses there. In Judges 6 and 7 Gideon asked the Lord for clarification and reaffirmation of what he was to do. Knowing that Gideon was scared the Lord gave him further instruction such as take a friend with him and go down and scout out the enemy camp. There he heard the Midianites were already afraid of Gideon and his God. God didn’t need an army to accomplish his purpose but opted to use Gideon but with encouragement. And, then Gideon and 300 guys went down armed with only trumpets and jars with torches inside and the Lord then caused the Midianites to panic and killed each other.
God knows us, He created us, He gave us free will and He knows we will get into trouble and sin. Again, let us look at a few more places in Scripture as to God’s concern for us.
First part of Proverbs 12:25. “an anxious heart weighs a man down,
James 5:13 is any one of you in trouble (or suffering) he should pray.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Matt11:28 come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Weary= those who have become weary through heavy struggling or toil much like the heavy load the Pharisees put on men’[shoulders with all those laws
Luke 21: 34 be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkedness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly. (warning as to carousing).
And there are a lot, lot more.
Did you ever notice how much better you felt when you shared something that was bugging you with a close confidant? Same thing can happen when you have that dialog with the Lord, who is always there, who will certainly not share it with another, and who might even provide the means to better the situation. It might happen while sitting on the back porch enjoying a cup of morning coffee or stacking wood in the woodshed. And, sometimes the solution was a plain as could be and right there in the recesses of my mind, but the “pause” was needed to give me time to think. When I was still with the Fish Commission one of my “blessings” was to draft policy and proposed regulation for the commissioners to consider and to formalize. One day a Commissioner was complaining to me about a situation where a particular policy didn’t fit his needs and wanted me to do something about it. I went home with what seemed like a major burden in my backpack with all the other items from the day. As I wrestled with it and several other issues I asked the Lord to give me strength. Shortly afterwards, I reminded myself that the Commissioners formally adopted that policy and if it didn’t meets the needs of one of them that was an internal matter for them to consider not one for a mere staffer. I was so relieved and realized the solution was there all the time, I simply needed time to collect my thoughts. HOW refreshing that was simply ‘cause I took a “pause”. Much like searching and searching for an item around the house only to finally find it right in front of your eyes but ……
Let us look at another “pause” the Lords gives us—The Sabbath. In Mark 2:27 Jesus clarifies the concept of the Sabbath unlike what the Pharisees were inconsistently teaching. Jesus said, “ The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath…”
From what I understand the Sabbath is a gift of God to man not with the purpose of putting man in a kind of straight jacket. It was for his good, to provide rest from labor and intended opportunity for worship. Now we could talk and talk about the Sabbath all various dimensions of keeping it holy but I want to focus on the pause and refresh part. We need the refreshment part if we are going to face the World for another several days. We need it to not just get thru another week but the means to take on another week witnessing for the Lord, spreading the Word, serving others, and even tithing (remember the sermon back in June about (praying, serving, and tithing?). From a physical aspect, the idea of the Sabbath is to make a change in routine so our bodies can rest. My father-in-law was a hard working dairy farmer who also drove school bus and was the church sextant. On Sundays despite the idea of a big city person who thought dairy cows didn’t need to be milked on weekends, he would do the bare minimum of farm work so he could rest up for a demanding week as well as have fellowship with family and the Lord.
Speaking of the Sabbath, lets consider another “pause” for refreshment, sharing holy communion. Just like when God told the Hebrews to celebrate the Passover with a special meal and storytelling, communion is one way to always remind ourselves of the basis for our faith and in fact the basis for Christianity. Years ago I sometimes viewed communion as an inconvenience as service would run late, Sunday school would be shortened and it was so repetitive. Boy was I wrong. Particularly when communion is tied in with the sermon, what better way to remind ourselves as to the who, what, where and why about Jesus. Not only do we use the senses of sight and hearing but also taste and touch to rekindle memory as to the life, death and resurrection of our Savior. And, on occasion when I have been asked to distribute the bread and/or wine especially in intinction and be able to look into the eyes of the recipients, WOW!
So, why is it so difficult to turn to the Lord right of the bat when a crisis comes along? The Lord has given us considerable knowledge and life experiences so it should be easy. But, often we get so caught up in the issue we forget all that. Consider Robert Muldoon the game warden in the movie, Jurassic Park. He knew all about velociraptors and how they stalked their prey and hunted in packs. Remember when the velociraptors escaped and Muldoon had to hunt them so Ellie could get into the power generating building. He was so focused on watching one velociraptor at a distance he completely overlooked one standing next to him ‘till it jumped him.
Or, our sense of pride takes over. A few weeks ago I had several issued weighing me down and I shared such with the Foundations Class. Along with a sore elbow for a work project, having to redo our septic system, replacing the hot water tank, a family crisis, cataract surgery with a five pound weight limit, a truck load of firewood logs had been dumped in the front yard and I would not be able to process it for a while. A class member offered to come over and cut up the logs for me. My first reaction was “no” as I have always done it myself forgetting I was not the same thirty year old as back then. The same reaction heard during the serving our seniors day back in April. Pride sometimes keeps us from talking with the Lord.
I really have not introduced any new aspect of being a follower of Christ nor have I offered the solution to get thru another week. But with a few examples, I hope I have reviewed ways to take on another day with the Lord in mind.
In closing, Some of you may not remember when Coke sold for a nickel or dime nor the ad “the pause that refreshes” but if you are like me as you look back over your life, I am sure you can recall times when you “paused” and came away “refreshed” having spent time with the Lord. As in 1 Peter5:7 cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Live the Sabbath as the gift it was intended by God. Receive Holy Communion as the gift Jesus intended. And get refreshed.