Moving by Standing Still
The Blood of the Covenant
Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord. Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Tending the Flock of God
Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it—not for sordid gain but eagerly. Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away. In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.”
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
####Final Greetings and Benediction
Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. Your sister church in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Oftentimes we consider initiative to be the key component of “those who go somewhere in life”. Initiative is important. Sometimes though, initiative becomes its own worst enemy. Sometimes initiative stops itself.
What do I mean by that ridiculous claim? I mean there are at least two things about initiative that generally go unobserved.
1. Initiative is not always entirely self-motivated.
We often define the character of initiative as a person who is a “self-starter”. In reality, these people we see as such often have elaborate systems in place to promote productivity and push them forward in their goals. They have coaches, teammates, parents, spouses, or even just people who challenge them in healthy competition. They only appear to be pushing themselves because we do not see the network of motivators around them.
2. Too much variation in initiatives causes a breakdown of productivity.
A person who focuses on a single goal and takes initiative can outpace many in their field. On the other hand, a person who works a dozen different initiatives at once will appear random and will likely not finish most of those goals. Multiplying our goals either leads us to the experience of taking one step forward and two steps back, or simply giving us too many “squirrel moments”.
This means that, once you get heading in a promising direction, sometimes the best thing you can do is be patient, and stand still until you get there.
I’ve only been in a few airports with people movers – those flat conveyer belts that move you from one end of a hall to another. I’ve noticed though, even in those few occasions I’ve been on one, that there are two types of people that ride them. There are those who use them as an opportunity to reserve energy, and let the track take them to their destination, and there are those who march down them at top speed, trying to gain speed from it and add their own. Most people tend to model the latter philosophy of people movers.
Life sometimes becomes a people mover under our feet, taking us wherever life is going. If we are honest, quite a few of us kick back and relax when the mover is taking us up easy street. But when we go down a path a suffering we all become those who run up the conveyer belt. Some of us even start running backwards! Suffering is not something we do standing still.
There is always anxiety in transformation and God is in the business of transforming us and our world. That means, God is always going to make us a little anxious. I believe it is part of why we often rush through prayer with Him. It is not that we are just too busy – that’s a bit ridiculous. What could possibly be more important than being in the presence and communicating with the being that gives us our very breath and loves us unwaveringly? No, I think there is a subconscious worry, or even fear, that sometime in the midst of that prayer, God might actually speak to us.
The saints of scripture all spoke of a God they felt closest to when they were sharing in His suffering. It seemed that there was always suffering of some kind going on. Either people were poor and hungry, sick and exasperated, or being hunted and killed. Shared suffering draws communities together tighter. Running away divides us. You can find people being called into some kind of self-giving service, which often looks like hardship instead of comfort, on nearly every page of the Bible. That alone speaks volumes. Jesus said it plainly:
…but think of all the things we would miss if we took out the last week of suffering in Jesus’s life.
Perhaps we would keep the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but you would lose the casting out merchants in the Temple.
You would lose some of the most powerful parables he told – The Parable of the Vineyard and the Parable of the Wedding Guests.
You would miss Him weeping over Jerusalem and cursing a fig tree.
You would miss the upper room, the Lord’s Supper, the washing of the disciple’s feet.
You would lose the most powerful prayer that Jesus prayed for you and I in John 17.
You would miss the sweat drops of blood in the garden while the disciples slept.
You would miss Judas betraying Jesus and the healing of the servants ear (after Peter chopped it off).
You would miss the trial, the beatings.
You would miss the crucifixion and the seven last words of Christ from the cross.
Everlasting life means very little without the experience of suffering and death. Jesus understood this better than any of us. There is a time to move and there is a time to stand fast and let God move you.
What makes you wish life would move you faster?
What makes you want to put your life on pause?
How do you sense God’s leading in these fast and slow times?