And when they arrived [in Antioch] and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples. (Act 14:27-28)
When I was growing up in Oklahoma my family used to visit my grandparents’ house several times a year. They kind of lived in the middle of nowhere so it was always a nice, peaceful place to be. And, they had a fishing pond. It was just a little thing, hidden in a cow pasture among a small herd of bored cows, ancient piles of boulders, and gnarled mesquite trees. It never was much to look at, but there was always lots of Lorance family traffic. After all, the fishing was great, the environment was peaceful, and everything was just so familiar.
And I remember the path to the pond. It wasn’t an intentional thing, but it was there. Years of regular traffic from Lorance family fishermen had created a well-worn path through the pasture. So, even though you couldn’t see the pond from a distance, you could always find your way there. The path was unmistakable.
I took my son to that pond a few years ago. Things looked pretty much the same except for one thing. The path was gone. As the years had passed, my family members visited the pond less and less. Where there once was a well-worn path, now there was only grass and overgrowth.
Okay, so I’m not just taking you on a trip down memory lane here. There’s something I want to say about this idea of a well-worn path. You see, in the passage above, Paul and Barnabas come to the end of a tremendous missions adventure and are said to have “remained no little time with the disciples.” The word translated “remained” is what hits me. The original Greek word means literally to “wear out a path.”
I’m really not a Greek scholar, but that image deeply challenges me. I’m so superficial in my relationships and so busy and so “multi-tasky” and so rushed. I don’t take much time to remain. I don’t sit with my friends, my family, or God and just wear out a path with them – so to speak. I let these key relationships get so overgrown that they lose their familiarity.
I really think it’s high time for me to wear out these paths again. Cut away at the overgrowth. Pull out the ear buds. Turn off the cellphone. Just remain. With Jesus. With my wife. With my kids. With my friends.
You know, sometimes I really do get to rambling, but I want to challenge you too. We live in an extraordinarily superficial society where often the most in-depth interaction we may have with a friend is a text message or a tweet. And let's not even talk about abiding with Jesus. You want depth? Peace? Authenticity? A genuine sharing with another or a profound connection with God! Hear the invitation of Jesus:
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.” Mt. 11:23
I challenge you to cut through some of the overgrowth this week in your relationships with others and with God. Get to work wearing out those paths again.
I hear you ...ReplyDelete
Yes! Good stuff!! The reality is we (the Church)have deviated from "thee path" and made our own paths. This has happened subtly, and it has happened as a result of lack of "Biblical" teaching. We have departed from "the way, the truth, and the life"! Paul in his letter to Timothy said "Preach the Word" . . . "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine"!(2Timothy 4:1ff)ReplyDelete
"Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein."(Jer.6:16)
I loved reading this...it brought me peaceful memories this afternoon as the others in the house are napping and for the first time since early morning the house is quiet. I am reminded of those years spent at Mountain Park with summers filled with fishing, swimming and sitting in the moonlight, on the tailgate of our pickups, legs swinging in rhythm with the laughter, while a collection of kids, holding tight to their mason jars caught fireflies in the glow of the porch light. No one was in any hurry to end the evenings and long after we returned to our every day work lives, the memories of those times would carry us back to that place, creating well worn paths, not just to the pond, but to each other. I think of the years that came later, filled with lost opportunities to abide in each other, as my days became burdened with obligations designed to make my life seem full, to give me self importance, to help me forget the family I use to know so I wouldn’t hurt. It was during those years that the weeds took over and covered the paths we had carefully laid to each other, until it seemed I would never would find my way back. There came a time, when it seemed impossible to clear out all the undergrowth and with hopelessness I often wondered, “Would those paths even still be there?” It was My Father who let me know that I did not have to do the work of clearing away the weeds alone; He would be there with me, giving me the strength I needed, that nothing is impossible. (Philippians 4:13) And although I thought seven years was a long time to open up some of those paths again, Abba let me know that He had everything under control, giving me just the right time, the right season of planting, growing, maturing and harvesting. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Today, it is up to me, to keep the paths clear, free from undergrowth and weeds, by “remaining”---spending time with my Father, my family and my friends. And it is up to me to continue uncovering other lost paths. Long ago I would complain, “There’s not enough hours in the day.” But that is not true, Abba, gives me just the right amount of time each day; and He provides me with wisdom in how to use each minute—it is up to me to listen and to make each moment a well worn memory stone so I do not get lost again.ReplyDelete
These days I know what it feels like to rock Addy to sleep, to feel her head nestle into my arms, so she can snuggle in and feel safe…I smell her and feel her even when she is not around. I know the excited sounds of Nicky and Devon as they tumble over each other, laughing and struggling to tell the story of their Dad sledding down the hill out back. I can hear them even when they are not present, they are so familiar now. I know the low humming words of Zach, as he wiggles into conversations, often huddled in a corner with his grandpa, talking softly with each other. Decorating the Christmas Tree last night with Casey, reopened paths of other Christmas’s spent with my children when they were little, baking cookies, writing Santa letters, wrapping presents long into the night, while Joe rang bells outside sleepy boys’ windows, leaving the impression that Santa had indeed arrived. Memory paths that I can recreate this year by spending time with family doing these familiar things. So much and so many things to make familiar so I never forget where I come from, the laughter of Paolo, the lovingness of Christopher, the sweet shyness of Hannah, the eyes of Jeremiah, the quietness of Harrison—if I am to know them then I need to spend time—not just moments with them. John 15:4 speaks of abiding or remaining in the Lord so that He will remain in me. Jesus is clear that if I spend time knowing Him then I will have Him all the time. He will be so familiar, that His presence will always be in me. By spending time with Cody, by remaining, I am making sure I carry Cody, with me, carry all those with me, who I spend time with. In contemplating all of this I am convicted that I need to know my sons better—I need to reopen those paths now that were laid down when Cody and his brothers were little boys, when I was familiar with their laughter. Several weeks ago, my husband said quietly to me, “I can no longer see your face.” He doesn’t have to, I am so familiar to him, that my husband fills in what is missing with his mind, with his memory—and it is as if he is not blind. This is the result of remaining with each other, clearly a blessed path made possible by our Father.ReplyDelete
Thanks Cody is indeed needful and timely in a world full of events and things that will keep one busy and busier every day... the need to 'remained' is relevant....ReplyDelete
Vincent, Calvin, Mom, and Bartholomew - thanks so much for reading and commenting.ReplyDelete