Tomorrow, my oldest son, Josh, leaves for Covenant College. With his approaching departure, it has become common for people to ask if I will miss him. As his father, I of course will miss not having him around. However, the reality is that as high school principal, it is not just my son heading off to college, but also 132 of "my BCS sons and daughters" from the class of 2016. As they join countless other college freshmen around the country, I felt an urge to write and then send the following letter to each of them. This may be of some encouragement and challenge to other sons and daughters that will be embarking on a new journey to the college or university that the Lord is calling them to attend.
Stress, demands, pressures, fatigue, long hours, sleep deprivation, confrontation, worn, overworked, burdened, strained, criticism, tested, noise, confusion, misunderstood, misconstrued, misrepresented, lonely, rejected, abandoned, ignored, suffering, sacrifice, hated, burdened…shall I continue? Do any or many of these words strike eerily close to home for wounds that have been inflicted upon your heart and life over the years? Or does the answer “all the above” apply to you? If so, you had better keep on reading, knowing that you stand in great company, as such words often marked the life of Jesus, his disciples and the cost of being a follower of His. After all, Jesus said, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33) So how does one respond to the intensity of life that often presses in? Let's look at how Jesus responded to these daily intense pressures.
• And having sent away the crowds, he went up on the mountain to pray privately. And when evening came, he was there alone. –Matthew 14:23
• And very early in the morning when it was still quite dark, Jesus rose up, left the house, and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. –Mark 1:3
• But he retired into the wilderness and prayed. –Luke 5:16
• In those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the whole night in prayer with God. – Luke 6:12
Notice that the getting away was not to simply “unplug” or to disengage but instead He stepped away for deliberate refueling before re-engaging. No iPhone, no music, no TV, no remote, no multi-tasking, no people, no distraction. Notice how Jesus was focused and single-minded as He intentionally sought out seclusion and silence for exclusivity with His Father.
Jesus’ rhythm of life was intense ministry and then He would withdraw to pray as He “refueled to re-engage” prior to resuming another period of intense ministry. Too often we are “red-lining” it, coming dangerously close to stalling out as we attempt to run on fumes. This is not sustainable nor is it healthy in any regard. If Jesus needed to step away to refocus and refuel by spending deep-abiding, intentional time with His Father, then our lives ought to mirror the One we are to be imaging.
Reflect on a few of these questions to help you refocus and reengage!
1. First ask yourself, what difference would a refueled, refreshed and reenergized YOU make to your important relationships?
2. Be honest...what do you do when you are exhausted, the demands are too high and you feel worn?
3. What is the “urgent” that presses in that can be dismissed to focus on the important?
4. How might following Jesus’ rhythm of ministry transform your life? After all, if you ever expect to image the King, then you need to spend time with Him!