Are you actively following Jesus, or just floating through life? This week, our Vicar Andy shares how a new experience whilst on sabbatical, reminded him of the Christian life.
One of the activities we did as a family during sabbatical was tubing! The suggestion came from some friends with whom we were staying with. We piled into the car and drove 2 hours up into the mountains of North Carolina. What is tubing you ask? The general gist is you sit in a big inflatable rubber ring and float down the river for 2 hours or so. I discovered that it is generally relaxing and typically an easy experience. However I thought I could just let the river take me downstream to my destination. I was wrong...in places the current was strong and didn’t always take me where I wanted to go. I had to paddle with my arms a lot to get where I wanted to go (this meant sore arms the next day) and I had to pay attention to my surroundings…especially avoiding large rocks steering clear of the turtles and snakes! Second…the pace at which we descended the river wasn’t the same for everybody...if you got into the right line you would move quickly, if you were on the wrong side you could end up in a calm section and seemingly stayed still whilst others went past. There were only 8 in our group but we soon spread out and disconnected. It was longer than I imagined, in that it took nearly 2 hours to traverse what I thought was a relatively short length. Just when you thought you were approaching the final bend, there was another stretch of river. And another and another… I have tried to reflect on my sabbatical as a whole and I will share some of that over the coming weeks yet this small trip on the river reminded me of the Christian life. Following Jesus is much more than just allowing yourself to float through life – we don’t just pray a prayer and wait for Heaven. Following Jesus is so much more. It takes a lot of work to stay in His current and avoid the obstacles of life that get us off track. Life is full of currents…some good and some bad. Nicky Gumbel says ‘When God calls you to follow him, he does not call you to a life of ease. Life on earth involves many battles, in all of which God promises you victory through Jesus Christ. There is never going to be a moment in your earthly life when everything is perfect. There are always going to be challenges, difficulties and problems to solve. However, there are times when these intensify and we seem to be coming under attack.’ Martin Luther King said that the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in 'moments of convenience,' but where they stand in 'moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.’ I wanted to share my trip down the river with our whole group but we kept getting separated. This meant some of the things I saw and the fun I had I wanted to share but they were too far in front or behind. Whilst on sabbatical I missed the congregation here, I missed being part of a community of believers. And I believe that if we truly want to be connected to other people who are going to help us follow Jesus, it takes more than just going to church with them. Six days between Sundays is a long time and it’s easy to live our lives disconnected. You may find that you need to get out of your comfort zone a little bit and work at getting to know the people following Jesus with you. Perhaps through small groups, serving in ministries together, praying together - look around and see who you’re floating through life with…are they helping you follow Jesus or not? It was a journey to get to the river, nearly 2 hours – we had to be determined to go and at some level it was inconvenient not easy. The same can be said of following Jesus – do we follow Him only when it’s convenient or comfortable…and when it fits into our schedule? We miss out on so much that God has for us when we choose to focus on our own convenience and comfort instead of trusting His timing and plans for us every day. As I return to being part of this Church I love, I ask these questions as much to myself as to you! How are you following Jesus right now? Are you just floating through life? Are you trying to follow Him alone? Are you trusting Him to lead and guide you?
Let these words from Proverbs 3:5-6 encourage you:
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.'
I pray you will be encouraged by His Holy Spirit and nurtured by His Word as you follow and grow in Jesus!
Have a great week
(Thanks to Jason Matthews for helping me reflect on this)
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