Rest

This morning I was reflecting on the sermons I have had the privilege of preaching this year. For me, sermons often reflect significant lessons God has been teaching me personally.

The average pastor spends 7-15 hours of preparation for a 35-45 minute sermon. That is a lot of time in one passage of scripture and so, for many pastors, a sermon has done significant work on their hearts and lives before they ever speak a word on Sunday morning. I was reflecting on them because I was looking for ways that God may have been preparing my heart for this Coronavirus fiasco.

Here are the sermons I have preached since spring 2019 (most recent - to latest date):
Do you see it too? Almost every single sermon/passage applies to this time of quarantine and the Coronavirus.

How about you? If you look back on the year through your journals, notes or Bible Studies, how has God been preparing you for this season?

Once a week I hope to write on a topic God has been pounding into my heart throughout this year. The first thing I want to reflect on is REST.

On December 8, 2019, we looked at Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha. Martha is working her tail off while Mary sits and listens to Jesus’ teaching. If you remember, Martha comes up to Jesus and asks him to tell Mary to help out. Jesus replies by saying that Mary had chosen the “greater portion” and that He wouldn’t take that away from her. The interpretation of the passage on that Sunday, and the thing God pounded into my own heart, was this:

Knowing + Listening to Jesus > Serving Jesus

The Coronavirus is a tragedy. Everything about it. The lives lost. The lives upended. The massive hit to the economy. All of it is one massive and unique tragedy. But I can’t help but wonder if we’ll get to the end of this and witness one more added tragedy on top of the pile of current tragedies:

Did we get all this time of shortened schedules, simplified lives, family time, more margin to listen and talk to Jesus... only to somehow come back more tired, more anxious, and even more distant from God and our families? That would be yet another enormous tragedy.

I understand there are some fields of work that are having to do quite the opposite of cutting back. Healthcare workers for one example, are having to implement every tool for mental and physical health and rest during this time as they labor hard to fight this thing. But, for many of us, we are having to combat a weird sense of uselessness. A strange feeling of being “unproductive”.

So how are you doing with rest during this season? How are you doing with giving Jesus a portion of the extra time you’ve been given?

Before you think I’ve done it all right, I was confessing to God just this morning that although it’s been a week of time at home with family, we haven’t done a single family devo, or even spent time discussing what’s happening with the kids. In fact, with the added family time, I have only hastened my efforts to get them to bed!

How well did you remember the Sabbath and keep it holy? This is not a guilt trip! God just might be ordaining something drastic to draw all of us closer into Him. We can’t afford to miss it!  

Too much quiet? Listen, He is speaking! Too much home time? Learn to be present. Tired of not knowing what to do to pitch in to the solution? Fight to know Him more! Run as fast as you can into Him by reading the Word, praying, reading about Him, watching videos about Him, talking about Him in Christian community on Zoom, and teaching your kids about His ways, especially in the midst of tragedies.

Friend, be cautious about new to-do-lists. They aren’t all unhealthy, but for many of us, we often replace one obstacle to a deeper walk with God with another. Don’t fall for it!

And so my encouragement for you today is this: whenever possible, choose the greater portion. Draw into Christ and watch as He also draws into you. I am praying today that we, as a Church, will learn a lot during this time about how to better order our lives. I hope we will taste a sweetness in Christ that we refuse to let go of when all of this is over, and it’s time to put the pieces of our world back together again.

Eric Ryan
Pastor of Leadership Development

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16

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