One of our favorite things, for Cyndi and me, that is, are study dates, when we sit in some restaurant (usually Rosa’s) and work on lessons and journals and lesson plans and grade papers. We may camp out for two hours, and enjoy each other for every minute of it. However, there usually comes a time when one of us needs to move on to something else. Maybe, anything else. Enough is enough. We’ll say, “I’ve got to move; I’ve worn out this chair.”
I recently learned that we aren’t the only ones who need to go elsewhere, anywhere, somewhere, sometimes.
I was reading Mark 1:38, when Jesus, hoping to avoid the crowds and maybe expand his listener base, said to His men, “Let’s go somewhere else - to some nearby village - I can preach there also.”
My first impression upon reading this was how vague it sounded. Jesus said: Let’s go somewhere else. He didn’t seem concerned with exactly where He went, but that He wanted something new; He wanted something else. He almost sounds indifferent, as in “Right, left, makes no difference to Me.”
For us, this need to move often shows up in bigger scenarios than leaving Rosa’s; maybe in a career move, or a change in activities or friends, a new ministry, or even a desire to add more discipline to life. We sense that we need a change of pace and a change of location, but we don’t know what it should be. We just know we want something else. In fact, we may have to pull up stakes and start moving away from where we’ve been before we learn our next destination. Clarity may come only on-the-fly.
I’m always more comfortable if I know exactly where I’m headed before I start moving, but that hasn’t been the most frequent pattern in my life. More often I have to move first - or in the case of a few employers, get thrown out the door and into the street first - long before I know where I should go next. I’ve seldom had the opportunity to line it up, step after step after step, the way I’d prefer.
My second impression upon reading Mark 1:38 is that often we suppose if we walk with Jesus daily, if our relationship is close enough and deep enough, we’ll know exactly what He wants us to do and where He wants us to go. We’ll be close enough to hear those softest whispered directions and feel every nuance and indication. We’ll be dialed in, and it will be great.
But the disciples lived as close to Jesus as possible, heard Him speak, watched Him eat, could read His body language and facial expressions, were able to see when Jesus leaned to the right or to the left, analyze when He picked up the pace or slowed down His stride, and still they were confused most of the time. And even being so close as all that, what did Jesus say to them? Let’s go somewhere else. And He left it hanging out there as if expecting the guys to finish the sentence or make suggestions.
Don’t I usually hope for more specific directions when I pray for God’s will? When I pray day after day - Where do You want me to go? Where are You taking me? Speak to my heart so I’ll be ready - I expect, or at least anticipate, something more specific than “go someplace else.”
But I’m not sure why I expect specifics. Most of the time in the Bible Jesus said things like “Follow Me.” No details, no clues about how to pack my suitcase or how many books I should take and should I bring my running shoes because I always hope for time to run and should I pack an umbrella or a swimsuit. None of that, just, “Come.”
And another thing; when we read the Bible stories of Jesus telling people to “Follow Me,” it never comes across as demanding or abusive. It never sounds like a drill sergeant yelling “When I say jump, don’t ask why, just jump; your only question is ‘How High?’” None of that from Jesus. His vagueness was not some sort of initiation rite, but encouragement for listeners to care more about who they followed than where they went.
Granted, not everyone followed Jesus. Some turned and walked away because they were carrying too much baggage - whether possessions or responsibilities or expectations - and couldn’t follow such a vague command.
I suppose that implies if we want to follow Jesus, we should be prepared to travel light. Be nimble and responsive, ready to drop what we’re doing and follow Him, right now, to somewhere else.
So, our prayer should be: Lord, teach me how to keep a loose grip on all this stuff of my life, all these responsibilities, awards, attention - ready to follow You anywhere. Even, somewhere else.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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