Ready or Not – Facing the Future

Mark 1:35-45  Healing of the Leper  (Not really the point) Image from: http://souljournaler.blogspot.com/ I mostly read the English Standard Version. Why? Because I like it. I am beginning to appreciate different translations more and more.  Many will debate the accuracy of this one, the readability of that one, and the intent of another … blah, blah, blah. It all makes me realize  the  sovereignty of God and how amazing His Word really is.  His amazing love and grace is not limited by our ability to read or hear, much less our ability to write or properly interpret dead languages. No offense to those who have dedicated their lives to reading, interpreting, translating and teaching classical biblical languages.  My son-in-law and many others in my family have made this their live’s work and have touched many lives through their pursuit.   God uses them to provide us with new insights and perspectives from an unchanging God to an ever-changing people.  My point?  If God wants to speak to me and my need out through a translation or paraphrase translated and written by an ass, well, it would not be the first time. (maybe it is written in my language)

All of this to say that a word in verse 35 jumped out at me … ­’desolate’. (New American Standard)

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 New American Standard Version)

This word is not used in any other translation that I could find. It is usually translated with ‘lonely’ or ‘deserted’ or a close synonym.  ‘Desolate’ may very well be a “bad” translation, but it said something to me.

des•o•late [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt] Show IPA adjective, verb, des•o•lat•ed,des•o•lat•ing. adjective

  1. barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape
  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
  3. solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
  5. dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects.     (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desolate)

droughtJesus had just made the decision to take the show on the road, so to speak. Knowing that a small town ministry was about to explode may have added to the reality of the task at hand. He needed to be ready and these fisherman he had gathered were not going to be much help, so He had to go to the only One that could give Him comfort and assurance.  When I see the word ‘desolate’ I see Jesus’s humanity.  He knew what was coming and, like in the garden later on, He was not relishing this next step.  If you were Him and could see into the future for the next 3 years, how would you picture the landscape?  #5 dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. or perhaps #1 barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.  How would you feel? #4 having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

The place that he went to pray may not have been any of these things, but seeing the path laid before Him, I can imagine that when He fell on the ground before His Father, the landscape of prayer that He found himself in may have been pretty desolate.  Did He really expect that leper He healed in verses 41 & 42 to keep quiet?  Maybe He hoped the He could buy a little more time before things kicked into high gear. Maybe not … but I know that I would be scrambling for a little more time if I were Him!

I am sort of a morning person. The peace and beauty of the morning, with the gentle sounds of birds or rain or wind, allow me to feel God’s presence in a special way.  Unless …

‘Then lead on!’ said Boromir. “But it is perilous.’ 
      ‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’ (JRR Tolkien: Fellowship of the Ring)

Although it may not be evil that I bring with me to the Lord, (obviously it was not evil that Jesus brought) but the landscape of prayer that I enter is often dark and dismal because of the fear, doubt, and burdens that I bring.  Sometimes those quiet mornings become pretty creepy and that place of peace seems pretty desolate.  When I feel unprepared or unqualified for a task before, I often catch myself doing a little prayer dance around the issue.

I think God understands that I bring these things with me to the prayer closet and He rejoices that I am there.  I don’t always get off my knees fired up to enter the fray, but I get up knowing that He is with me.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11,12)

Ready or Not

Mark 1:35-45  Healing of the Leper  (Not really the point) Image from: http://souljournaler.blogspot.com/ I mostly read the English Standard Version. Why? Because I like it. I am beginning to appreciate different translations more and more.  Many will debate the accuracy of this one, the readability of that one, and the intent of another … blah, blah, blah. It all makes me realize  the  sovereignty God and how amazing His Word really is.  His amazing love and grace is not limited by our ability to read or hear, much less our ability to write or properly interpret dead languages. No offense to those who have dedicated their life to reading, interpreting, translating and teaching classical biblical languages.  My son-in-law and many others in my family have made this their life’s work and have touched many lives through their pursuit.   God uses them to provide us with new insights and perspectives from an unchanging God to an ever changing people.  My point?  If God wants to speak to me and my need out of a translation or paraphrase translated and written by an ass, well, it would not be the first time.

All of this to say that a word in verse 35 jumped out at me … ­’desolate’.

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

This word is not used in any other translation that I could find. It is usually translated with ‘lonely’ or ‘deserted’ or a close synonym.  ‘Desolate’ may very well be a “bad” translation, but it said something to me.

des•o•late [adj. des-uh-lit; v. des-uh-leyt] Show IPA adjective, verb, des•o•lat•ed,des•o•lat•ing. adjective

  1. barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape
  2. deprived or destitute of inhabitants; deserted; uninhabited.
  3. solitary; lonely: a desolate place.
  4. having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.
  5. dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects.     (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desolate)

droughtJesus had just made the decision to take the show on the road, so to speak. Knowing that a small town ministry was about to explode may have added to the reality of the task at hand. He needed to be ready and these fisherman he had gathered were not going to be much help. so He had to go to the only One that could give Him comfort and assurance.  When I see the word ‘desolate’ I see Jesus’s humanity.  He knew what was coming and like in the garden later on, He was not relishing this next step.  If you were Him and could see into the future for the next 3 years, how would you picture the landscape?  #5 dreary; dismal; gloomy: desolate prospects. or perhaps #1 barren or laid waste; devastated: a treeless, desolate landscape.  How would you feel? #4 having the feeling of being abandoned by friends or by hope; forlorn.

The place that he went to pray may not have been any of these things, but seeing the path laid before Him, I can imagine that when He fell on the ground before His Father, the landscape of prayer that He found himself in may have pretty desolate.  Did He really expect that leper He healed in verses 41 & 42 to keep quiet?  Maybe, He was hoping that He could buy a little more time before things kicked into high gear.  Maybe not, but I know that I would be scrambling for a little more time!

I am sort of a morning person. The peace and beauty of the morning, with the gentle sounds of birds or rain or wind, allow me to feel God’s presence in a special way.  Unless …

‘Then lead on!’ said Boromir. “But it is perilous.’ 
      ‘Perilous indeed,’ said Aragorn, ‘fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them.’ (JRR Tolkien: Fellowship of the Ring)

Although it may not be evil that I bring with me to the Lord, (obviously it was not evil that Jesus brought) but the landscape of prayer that I enter is often dark and dismal because of the fear, doubt, and burdens that I bring.  Sometimes those quiet mornings become pretty creepy and that place of peace seems pretty desolate.  When I feel unprepared or unqualified for a task before, I often catch myself doing a little prayer dance around the issue.

I think God understands that I bring these things with me to the prayer closet and He rejoices that I am there.  I don’t always get off my knees fired up to enter the fray, but I get up knowing that He is with me.

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,

that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever! (Psalm 30:11,12)

Out of the Baggage Compartment

We can all picture that child  embarrassed by unwanted attention, “Don’t you have the most beautiful hair? … sweetest smile? … darling dimples … and worst of all the cutest chubby cheeks”  As we get older and “mature” we come to understand that hiding behind our hands or behind our parents is just silly and only makes matter worse because even that brings more unwanted attention.  That is not to say we do not seek a hiding place, we just try to find more innovative ways to hide.

“Then Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, and the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. He brought the tribe of Benjamin near by its clans, and the clan of the Matrites was taken by lot; finally he brought the family of the Matrites near, man by man and Saul the son of Kish was taken by lot. But when they sought him, he could not be found. So they inquired again of the Lord, “Is there a man still to come?” and the Lord said, “Behold, he has hidden himself among the baggage.” Then they ran and took him from there. And when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward. And Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? There is none like him among all the people.” And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!” (1 Sam 10:20-24)

As a sound tech at church, I sometimes have the unique opportunity, to wonder about, and pray during worship team rehearsals (provided I get out of God’s way during my preparation). This morning one of those rare days. I pass back and forth across the sanctuary so that I can pass every seat and pray for the individuals that will be sitting in those seats.  As I neared the back of the room, God showed me that there were many people that really wanted to touch, but they were hiding in the baggage so to speak. They want to be in the room, but they really do not want the attention that comes with the anointing that God has for them.

I can remember a specific prayer I had 16 or 17 years ago that I no longer wanted to be a “Back-row Christian”.  My family did not literally move up to the front row (we moved to the third row). It really is not about position, but availability. We just made a conscious decision to make ourselves available to Him.  You are actually not any more available to God in the front row than anywhere else, although it is just more difficult to run (It is much harder to get-up and leave early when you’re in the front).

I have always loved that the youth at our church take over the front center section of the church.  As awkward and self-conscious as teenagers are, they long to be used and be a part of what God is doing.  They don’t have a bunch of baggage to hide in and for those that do, they just want to get rid of it. (stretching that analogy a bit, but you get the point)

We may be comfortable in our safe little hiding place. We are not as slick as we think. God sees us behind our little hands and He longs to pour out an anointing of peace, joy, and power unlike anything we have ever experienced.  So let’s get out of the baggage compartment, God has a place in First Class just waiting for us.