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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He Hurls Down His Crystals of Ice

Psalm 147:15-18 – He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. 17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? 18 He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.

2013-12-07 - He Hurls Down His Crystals of Ice (IMG_1403)Water, ice, and snow cover the spillway at Caesar Creek Lake after our first big storm of the winter. Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

When it is 16 °F outside and the ground is covered with snow and ice most of us prefer to stay indoors.  It is an easy decision to stay inside, warm and protected from the elements, if you have no reason to go outside and brave the cold.  Likewise, as Christians, we often find ourselves staying within the protective walls of our churches.  We are comfortable and safe among our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is easy for us to fall into a routine that isolates us from the world and the people outside the doors of our church.

Even if it is cold and harsh out there we need to remember the mission to which Jesus calls us in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Christ promises to always be with us; and, fortunately for us, the protection he offers is much more certain than that offered by the winter clothing we don to venture out on a cold winter’s eve.

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

We All Fade Like a Leaf

Isaiah 64:6-9 –We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7 There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. 8 But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. 9 Be not so terribly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people.

2013-11-22 - We All Fade Like a Leaf (IMG_0485)A lone maple leaf fades on a park bench in the Flat Fork Ridge Recreation Area. Caesar Creek State Park, Waynesville, Ohio.

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

For Everything There Is a Season

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven

IMG_2863Corwin M. Nixon covered bridge and fall foliage reflected in the Little Miami River, near Waynesville, Ohio.

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