“Jesus retreated in order to recenter on what was ultimately and unshakably true.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – June 9, 2022
Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. Mark 1:35, NKJV
I recently spent several days on retreat in the English countryside, walking ancient footpaths, visiting restaurants that are older than my country, and generally embracing a slower and simpler pace of life. As I did, I reflected on the stark contrast between these historic rhythms of life and the chaos, in the truest sense of the word, of our modern world.
For most of human history, the world that was known to you was remarkably limited. Countless people spent their entire lives in a single village, never venturing beyond the bounds of their immediate community. Even those who aspired to adventure and exploration often did so in comparatively limited ways. The fact that in less than a week I was able to fly across an ocean, travel the entire length of the United Kingdom, and return to where I first began and no one in our age sees this as remarkable or noteworthy only further underscores the remarkable times in which we live.
Though our modern world affords us with countless benefits and technological achievements, one has to pause and reflect on the ways this may also prove to be a great challenge to our health and wholeness. In particular, the speed at which we move and the steady stream of information that is relentlessly sent our way leaves us dazed and confused, to say the least.
To live in our modern age is to confront sin and sickness on a global scale. In addition to the joys and sorrows that are unique to your own story and known only to you, a simple glance at the news adds to this the incomprehensible suffering of a global society: pandemics, inflation, economic collapse, racial injustice, global war, food shortages, school shootings. On and on the list could go, and with each passing day I find it harder and harder to know how to respond, how to live faithfully as a follower of Christ in such confusing times.
I confess a great temptation to retreat. The ancient village and its perceived simplicity and domestic tranquility feels far simpler than the complexity of our contemporary world. And yet, when I think of Jesus’ own life on earth, and the times he retreated and removed himself from the chaos that surrounded him, it was never to simply escape or avoid reality. In fact, Jesus retreated in order to recenter on what was ultimately and unshakably true, rooting himself afresh in the love and communion of the Father.
Often you and I will encounter moments in our world that leave us stunned and speechless. The weight and scale of evil is simply more than we can bear or even begin to process. In these moments, “I don’t know what to do” is perhaps the most honest thing we can say. Yet in times of great confusion and pain, we must resist the two extremes of passionate action without direction on the one hand, or silent indifference and emotional distance on the other. Instead, we join Jesus in the quiet places of prayer, intentionally moving toward the Father with the world on our hearts, for it is here that our souls are expanded and clarity is gained.
Father, give us wisdom and courage to work for justice and peace in our world, trusting that you are good and long to bring order to our chaos, calming the raging seas in our hearts and society, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Identify several places of societal chaos and intentionally open your heart to receive them, and then sit with them prayerfully in the Lord’s presence, asking him for clarity and the courage needed to respond in faith and action.
First United Methodist, Houston: God of Grace and God of Glory
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