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.

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

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For to the Snow He Says, ‘Fall on the Earth’

Job 37:5-7 – God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend.  For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.  He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom he made may know it.

IMG_0887Snow and ice cover Flat Fork CreekCaesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

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

The Rock That Is Higher Than I

Psalm 61:1-4 – Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 2 from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 3 for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 4 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

2014-01-20 - The Rock That Is Higher Than I (IMG_1523)Some of the towering cliffs along the trail in the Cantwell Cliffs area.  Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio.

If you have ever hiked in an area with towering cliffs you know just how small and insignificant you feel when you take the time to stop and look above you.  The use of rock imagery to describe God is found throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament.  For centuries rock was the only available building material strong enough to build fortresses and walls to protect a city from an invading army.  And, even though the weapons of modern warfare have made the stone fortress obsolete, many ancient examples still survive demonstrating their permanence, so that this imagery is easily understood even today.

Although we can appreciate this imagery, it is still just a literary tool used to describe some of the characteristics of God in terms that we can understand.  Fortunately our God is much stronger and more permanent than any rock formation found in nature or stone fortress built by the hands of man.  Far better, still, our God is a living God, one to whom we can cry out in our times of need, one to whom we can look for protection when we are under attack from the world, the flesh, or the devil.  He is also the God to whom we commit our time, talent, and treasure, the God to whom we offer our devotion, praise, and worship.  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

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

God Will Supply Every Need

Philippians 4:19-20 – And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

2013-12-28 - God Will Supply Every Need (IMG_1585)View looking north along Twin Creek.  Twin Creek MetroPark, Germantown, Ohio.

On a clear, 50 degree, late December Saturday here in southwest Ohio, the trail beckons!  The trees may be bare and the path was a bit muddy, but the sky was blue and the birds were singing.  Getting out for a hike on a sunny winter day like today certainly fills a need for me.

All I can say is, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

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

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