Distracted

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) – Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

IMG_1323The lights of Lebanon, Ohio shine on the horizon obscuring the stars on a clear March night at Caesar Creek Lake.  Furnas Shores, Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

If you have ever lived or traveled far from any towns or cities you know just how many more stars become visible in the night sky once you escape the lights of civilization.  In fact, if you find a place that is dark enough you will be amazed at the number of stars that fill the night sky, including the vast river of stars that make up our own little corner of the universe, called the Milky Way galaxy.  However, if you live anywhere in the United States east of the Mississippi River there are very few places where you can get away from effects of light pollution and truly see the vastness of the night sky. And if you live in or near a city, or even most large towns, your view of the stars will likely be obscured by the myriad of lights we use to illuminate the night.

In much the same way that the lights of civilization obscure the stars in the night sky, the busyness and distractions of everyday existence too often obscure the voice of God in our lives.  Even when that busyness is well intentioned and purposeful, like Martha’s, it is still distracting.

By no means do I think Christ is suggesting that we just sit around all day reading, contemplating, and discussing the Scriptures, though I suspect we are all in need of this far more than we are in need of one more task added to our daily routine.  There are plenty of passages that advocate hard work and service.  But I truly do not think most of us need prompting to stay busy, whether with useful, productive endeavors—which also include our time serving in various church functions—or time wasting trivial tasks like checking e-mail, browsing on Facebook and Twitter, or just mindlessly watching television.

What I do think Christ is telling us is that we do not spend enough time just sitting at his feet and listening to his voice.  We do not spend enough time in his Word, coming to him in prayer, and simply seeking to understand what he is telling us through these daily means of grace.  Even though I regularly avail myself of quiet devotional time early each morning, I still find that the distractions and busyness of life quickly crowd back in as soon as the rest of my day begins.

This is one of the many reasons I often find myself in need of refreshment and time away, going out into God’s amazing creation, far from civilization, to gaze up at the sky on a clear night and see what an uncluttered view of the universe looks like, both literally and figuratively.  It is during these uncluttered times away that I find myself realizing just how small I am in this universe, and just how great and amazing is our God, who created and sustains it all.  To know that this is the same God who is powerful enough to create all of this, yet he loves us so much that he chose to send his Son to live the perfect life that we cannot, and die the death we so deserve for our sins.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  John 3:16-17 (ESV)

Are you distracted?  Are you taking the time to hear the voice of God speaking to you through his Word and his creation?  Find the time.  Make it a priority.  You will be amazed at what you discover.

IMG_2681Even with the light of a half-moon the Milky Way galaxy is still visible once you are away from the distracting lights of civilization.  Red River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Slade, Kentucky.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

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Follow in His Steps

1 Peter 2:21-24 – For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

2013-12-19 - Follow in His Steps (IMG_9353)Taking a break and enjoying the view after hiking the snow covered trail up to Emerald LakeRocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

If you have ever hiked on snow, you know that it is easier to follow in the footsteps of someone who has gone ahead of you, rather than blazing the trail yourself.  But, just because someone has traveled the path before you, does not mean the hike will be easy, you still need to do the work in order to get to the end of the journey and enjoy the scenic view.

Our walk as Christians is a lot like this.  As we read in today’s passage from 1 Peter, we do have someone who has gone ahead of us, in whose footsteps we follow.  We have someone who lived the perfect life that we are unable to live and who died the terrible death we so much deserve for our sinful ways.  That someone is Christ, who took our sins to the cross and shed his blood so “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.”

Even though the trail has been blazed for us, we still have work we are called to do.  And, while our works can never earn the salvation already bought for us by Christ’s blood shed on the cross, being a Christian does not mean we can just sit idly by.  As we read in Christ’s own words from Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

The Christian walk is not always an easy one, especially when you consider in whose steps we follow.  But the rewards at the end of the journey will far exceed even the most scenic and spectacular views we find at the end of the trails we travel in this life.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.

The Very Stones Would Cry Out

Luke 19:37-40 – As he was drawing near–already on the way down the Mount of Olives–the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

2013-12-11 - The Very Stones Would Cry Out (IMG_0164)Fallen leaves on a moss covered stone.  Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve, Oregonia, Ohio.

As a hiker and aspiring photographer I am always looking for new and exciting locations with magnificent scenery.  Of course, time and distance limit the opportunities to travel to such places.  But, I often find that some of the most beautiful things in God’s creation are the little things right there in front of us, like a mossy, leaf-covered rock in a stream or the little patch of spring wildflowers beside the trail.

God is present in all of his creation.  And, as we read in today’s passage, even if someone were to try silencing the voices of those proclaiming the glory of God, be it a government, or religious leaders like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, “the very stones would cry out.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2013.