I made a real effort to Sabbath well this past Sunday. (If you’re wondering why I say that, click back to last month’s part 1 and/or part 2 on Sabbathing.) It was better. I didn’t get the sit-down-and-meditate opportunity I had anticipated, but I chose not to do some things on my list and instead, spent time with my oldest child, doing something she wanted to do. Small victories, right?
I’ve backed into the topic of Sabbath, and I didn’t realize where the Holy Spirit would take me when I first typed “Sabbathing” on my computer last month. So this week, let’s go back to where we should have started—in the Word of God. Let’s dig into the first of two consecutive scenes where Jesus intentionally and publicly contradicted Jewish tradition.
The alarm on my phone is far more cheerful than I feel. No swiping for a snooze today. Since the kids are older, the pace is less frenetic, but we still have much to do before we lock the door behind us. We always leave late despite my best efforts. I carry my coffee to the car in my regular ceramic cup rather than taking time to transfer it to something with a lid.
I try to quiet my mind on the drive, and we’re careful not to argue or fuss at the children regardless of how the morning went. We split from the kids as soon as we walk through the church doors. Continue reading →
Since before I wrote Walls and Weapons in October, we’ve been singing “Do It Again” from Elevation Worship at church. (The first line is about walls. It’s an obvious connection.) The bridge goes like this:
I’ve seen you move, you move the mountains, and I believe I’ll see you do it again.
Well, the walls I described back in that October post are still standing. The mountain that needs to move isn’t gone. As we sang this song again on Sunday, I mentally reminded the Lord that, while I absolutely believe He’ll “do it again,” we’re still waiting. Immediately, this phrase came to my mind:
There’s more than one way to move a mountain.
I stopped singing. My mouth may have hung open. The wheels in my brain started turning, and images began to cycle…images of the many ways mountains can be moved.
The Grand Canyon is the product of erosion. So are most cave systems and the smooth tops of the Appalachian Mountains. Slowly and steadily, wind and/or water wear away at soil, rock, and everything else, turning jagged edges smooth, wearing towers down to nubs. You can’t watch it happen, but you can clearly see evidence of it.
Sometimes our problems very gradually dissipate as “springs of living water” (Revelation 7:17, also John 4:14) flow in and around us. The key is to keep the water flowing, that is, to stay close to Jesus. We’ve seen the smoothing of some rough edges on our mountain, making it a little easier to manage every day.
I love heavy equipment! (How could I not have any photos?!?) A bunch of bulldozers and dump trucks can roll in and remove a mountain in a matter of weeks. It’s not pretty and may not be good for the environment (e.g. strip mining), but it’s possible.
We can move our spiritual mountains through the application of human resources, too.
Doctors and medicines
friends lending their services
all help us tackle the mountains in our lives. After praying for God to move our particular mountain, He has guided us to some heavy equipment to tackle part of the job.
The mountain’s environment: Beavers chop down trees to make dams that back up streams. Birds carry away twigs for nests and deposit seeds that become trees. Moles tunnel through the ground, loosening soil that the wind blows away. Men clear space for roads and fields. Many factors alter or remove small parts of the mountain.
As our environment changes, our mountain changes. It wears down. It loosens up, making erosion easier. Some small things have changed, some small steps have been taken so that the mountain is looser. It’s a little easier to live here now, and it may come down more quickly in the future.
The believer’s environment: It’s also possible to simply move away. Maybe the mountain doesn’t need to move as much as we need to move out of its vicinity. A change in our environment produces the same results as moving the mountain. Mount Kilimanjaro doesn’t look quite as impressive from one hundred miles away.
We’ve changed a few things around here (and stood firm on a few other things) to get a better perspective on our mountain. While we can’t move, we’ve learned to simply look in a different direction occasionally by getting away for a vacation or holiday.
Very rarely, the earth shakes and the mountain crumbles—gone in a matter of minutes. That’s entirely the hand of God. Earthquakes are dangerous for miles, the land often racked with instability and aftershocks. (Kinda thankful I don’t have any first-hand photos of earthquakes.)
When Jesus talked of moving
mountains, He was thinking
about motives, not methods.
It seems I was looking for the earthquake or some miraculous disappearing act—a heavenly sleight of hand—that would solve our situation without much work or patience on my part. Clearly, that’s not God’s only way to work.
When Jesus talked of moving mountains, He wasn’t worried about methods, just motives.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. –Matthew 17:20
So I’m willing to wait and watch, knowing God has a purpose in the methods He’s using for us. Because God does move mountains, one way or another.
Someone led him to his usual spot on the side of the road in Jerusalem. He made himself comfortable on this Sabbath morning and prepared to do the same thing he’d done every day for years. The same thing he expected to do every day for the next thirty years, maybe longer. It was his penance. For what, he did not know. He groped at his side for his bowl and cleared his throat. “Some alms for the blind? Can anyone spare a half-cent or a quadran?”
Sometimes people were generous, especially on holy days, when more people passed and more of them gave alms. Sometimes a wealthy man would put his hand in the bowl and rattle it but the weight of the bowl didn’t change. Strange that the poorer people never did that sort of thing. Rarely, someone would stop to talk to him; those were the best days. Continue reading →
A ritually pure home where Pharisees gathered and the home of a wealthy but despised tax collector where prostitutes and other sinners found a seat. How could the same man be comfortable in both? Luke 5Continue reading →
I’m still ruminating on this verse from last week’s post: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14). And then there’s this: There is a time for everything…a time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 7b).
Consider this situation…
The temple guards seized Jesus on the Mount of Olives and took him to the high priest’s house. After the guards mocked and beat him through the night, the religious leadership in Jerusalem interrogated Him briefly then took Him to stand before Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. Continue reading →