Mean Jesus?

“Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “follow me and let the dead bury their own dead.”  Matthew 8:21,22

That verse always stands out for me as harsh.  I mean here is a disciple, a follower of Jesus, asking for a little time off to go and bury his father and our loving Messiah tells him no, that he should let the dead bury the dead and ignore his obligations to his family. I wanted to look into this because, on first reading, it makes Jesus seem so callous and uncaring of his follower’s grief.  This seems so out of character for the guy who is going to sacrifice himself for the sake of humanity a few years later.

I started looking into the verse and really trying to understand it in my heart.  What if this follower was afraid of what Jesus was asking him to do? What if his asking for time off was an excuse?  Maybe he wanted the people around him to believe that he was a follower of Jesus because that was the “cool” thing to be in that moment.  But, in his heart, he really wasn’t ready for the commitment following Christ would require.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve said and done things in the moment that we knew in our heart wasn’t a reflection of who we really were or what we really believed.  As humans, we have a deep seated need to be accepted.  It’s fundamental to our survival as a species to be a part of a social unit.

But I think that Jesus is speaking to all of us in this verse.  What are the dead things in our lives that are holding us back?  What do we need to leave behind us in order to really live as a follower of Christ?  Maybe we are like the man in this story, saying and doing all the right things, but not really surrendering ourselves. We always have a good excuse why we can’t go to church, read our bible, pray more.  Believe me, as a mother, my list of excuses is almost inexhaustible.  I have to get groceries, do laundry, clean the house, drive the kids, make the dinner, walk the dog.  But maybe we are being called to be more mindful.  To leave those things that are “dead” in their place. Does an immaculate house really add to my quality of life?…maybe not.  If I have a few free minutes often feel the call of Facebook, it’s easy.  But I find greater peace comes from the time I sit down with a cup of tea and my bible.  I can go an entire day without Facebook and not really miss out on anything.  But if I don’t make that connection with God, I feel it all day.

We need to remember that Jesus knows us even better than we know ourselves.  It does seem that there had to be a good reason for Jesus, the guy who raised Lazarus from the dead, to tell this man to leave his dead to the dead.  It’s even possible that guy didn’t have a relationship with his father or that he had family that was already taking care of things.  I think the point here is that he was making an excuse, and Jesus called him out on it.

We all have them, but let’s make an extra effort this week to be aware of the excuses we are making in our lives that are keeping us from really following Christ? Let’s leave our fears behind and commitment to being people who do what’s right, instead of people who say what’s right.

God bless,

Meredith

The Un-Facebook Version of Me.

It’s so easy to get misdirected and caught up in things that don’t matter.  It’s so easy to turn mole hills into mountains and as a result fail to see what’s on the other side. I’ve had a few things lately that have been causing me some degree of anxiety/stress/worry.  Sometimes it’s easy to turn to God with those problems, sometimes it isn’t.  When I was injured I could absolutely turn to God and pray for strength and patience throughout my recovery.  But what if what I’m worrying about is petty?

Do you sometimes feel restrained in the things you bring before God because maybe they aren’t big enough?  Maybe they aren’t Godly enough or you think that your worries don’t come from a place that would be acceptable to Him?  I have absolutely been feeling that way about one of my worries.  I mean really, it’s a problem of having too much…

So this morning I did my bible reading.  And while Isaac was working on his reading I picked up my phone.  I have to admit to not always noticing the daily message I get from my bible app.  But today, it came up as soon as I picked up my phone and it read… “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

Now I read that passage in Philippians a week or so ago as I’m working my way back through Paul’s letters.  And I’m on 1st Timothy at this point.  But there it was, looking at me, compelling me not only to read but to understand the message…to write it in my heart.

BE CAREFUL FOR NOTHING!!!  Think about that…God is telling me, he’s telling you to stop worrying about what you are bringing to him…to stop guarding your heart from him.  He doesn’t want a carefully curated, Facebook perfect version of you.  He already knows exactly who you are, the REAL you.  He knows your heart’s desire and wants, even if you feel ashamed to admit it.  And he tells us what to do with those desires… in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  If you want a better job, a bigger house, a nicer car, to get in better shape, to be better.  Whatever it is, give it to God.  Give him EVERYTHING!!!!

The next verse is where the really important part comes in…and the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and mind through Christ Jesus”.  This verse doesn’t say that you’ll get everything you ask God for, but it does say that if you give him everything, then he will give you something that surpasses anything you could possibly have desired…peace.  Just sit there for a moment, right now, put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, close your eyes and feel it…really feel it fill your heart and your mind…the peace of God.

There is no physical possession, no award or accolade that can give you the lasting feeling of peace that comes from knowing God and maybe even more importantly…from being known by Him.

Today God reminded me to let go, to give him everything in prayer and supplication and to be thankful.  Thank you Father for allowing me to be my uncurated, unadultered, mostly broken-down self.  And thank you for never tiring of reminding me just how much You love me, for giving your only son over to a death that he freely accepted…all so that my faith could be enough.

God bless you all, have faith, be brave.

Meredith