“If you are always focused on the trail, you will miss the purpose for which you hike.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – October 16, 2021
And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. Luke 6:17-18, ESV
When hiking in rough and rugged terrain, I often find myself unable to take in the beauty of the surroundings, due simply to my need to constantly keep my eyes on the trail in front of me. Without attention to the roots, rocks, and ridges before me, I would most certainly find myself injured and on the ground, rather than successfully ascending the trail before me. If I want to do something significant, such as marveling at the expansive vistas, reflecting upon the beauty of the foliage all around me, or converse with friends on the trail, I have to first stop and find a stable place from which I change my focus and attention.
In Luke’s gospel, we find Jesus standing “on a level place,” (Luke 6:17) and this is a significant detail worthy of our reflection today. A level place is free from distraction and difficulty. The focus is not on the trail or the challenges of the hike, but is stable ground that allows you to shift your time, energy, and attention elsewhere. Jesus steadies himself in order to focus fully on the needs of those around him. From this place of stability Jesus is free to give himself to others, enter into the messiness of their lives in order to heal them and make them whole.
If you are always focused on the trail, you will miss the purpose for which you hike. Navigating difficult terrain or ascending great heights is not the true aim or focus. These difficult journeys open the world to us in previously unseen ways. We encounter people and places that we would otherwise have never seen. It is therefore essential to not only hike, but stop and be present to the places these hikes reveal to us.
In the same way, we must remember that our journey of faith is meant to invite us into new and previously unknown experiences of the love and goodness of God. As we grow in our faith, we too must realize the times and seasons in which we are meant to pause, to stop and steady ourselves on level ground, fully present and attentive to the people we encounter on this great journey.
Father, root us in the life of your Son, Jesus, so that we might give ourselves away to those around us who are in need. Amen.
In what ways are you rushing along the trail, failing to stop and steady yourself in order to be present to the people and places right around you?
Sufjan Stevens: Holy, Holy, Holy
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