Hi everyone. Rob here.
In Luke 5 we see Jesus heal a man with a skin disease. He then tells him to go to the priest and not to tell everyone what happened. Verses 15-16 then say this:
Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Jesus often seemed to have a love/hate relationship with the crowds and with healing the sick. Healing was one of the great works of the kingdom. It restored people’s humanity, took away their shame and testified to God’s goodness and glory. It was also an invitation to participate in the new life that God’s kingdom represents. However, for most of us when we’re sick, what we want is to be made well so we can have the old life back. We take paracetamol, antibiotics, apply creams and lotions, visit doctors, have operations so that we can do what we used to do and be how we used to be. I’m sure that the people of 1st century Israel were no different. They joined the crowd and came to Jesus so that they could get their old life back. But that is not the invitation of the kingdom. The invitation is to a new life.
Jesus took himself away to lonely places so that he could be with his Father and participate in their shared life together. That life is the very life he wanted to pass on. It is the life of the kingdom. We are invited, through Jesus, to participate in God’s life. It is what we are made for. To get in touch with that good news we need to step away from the world just as Jesus did. We need to silence the world’s noise, clamour and demands so that we can hear our heart crying out for God. We need to stop looking for the world’s approval so we can present ourselves to our Father and receive the unconditional embrace that he gives his sons and daughters.
In this time of enforced isolation the world’s demand for more of us has been quietened somewhat for many. Maybe you are starting to hear the longing in your heart for the first time in many years. That longing is for God and his kingdom. It is a yearning for home, a yearning for new life. It is the invitation of divine love. Say yes to it. Agree that your heart longs for God and his love. Agree that his kingdom is your hearts true home. Agree with the new.
So, are you desperately waiting for this lockdown to end so that you can get back to your old life? Let me say it plainly. Our old way of life was killing our planet and killing our hearts. It was too busy, too loud, too demanding, too greedy and too fast. John Ortberg in his book, Soul Keeping, recites a great quote from some African guides who had been pushed to travel a long way quickly and the next day weren’t moving at all:
…they were waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
Our world is filled with many souls trying to catch up with their bodies. My prayer for this lockdown is that they do. And when they find them they find the new life of God’s kingdom together. It starts by saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus. He knows the way to that life. Let him guide you.
Grace and peace everyone